The Republic of Korea in December of 2012 acceded to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Abduction. The Convention enters into force, in Korea, on March 1, 2013. The Convention was first concluded in 1980. Korea became the 89th signatory to the Convention.
Under this Child Abduction Convention a non-Korean spouse of one of the contracting states may file with the Ministry of Justice of Korea for assistance in the return of a child that was taken into Korea illegally ("abduction").
The case, after filing with the Ministry of Justice, will be under the sole jurisdiction of the Seoul Family Court. The Seoul Family Court may order a preliminary injunction or if after one year from the abduction - the court may grant custody of the child to the abducting parent or guardian.
Non-compliance with the order of the court may result in a fine of up to KRW 10,000,000 and up to a 30-day jail sentence.
Korea was very slow in acceding to the Convention, because of the necessity to revise law in order to comply with certain mandates of the Convention. We will update the reader when we hear or handle cases dealing with the abduction of children into South Korea. To date, few cases have be disposed of by the Korean courts.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.