Preparation for Korean Police & Prosecutor Interrogations & Witness/Defendant Questioning at Korean Courts

Korean Witness Preparation

All good Korean attorneys prepare all clients for witness questioning & suspect interrogations in Korea.  Clients may be subpoenaed to appear in a Korean police office, Korean prosecutors office or to appear as a witness or a criminal defendant in a Korean Court and should be thoroughly prepared by their attorneys.

We at IPG, hear of too many issues of lawyers, only, telling clients to “tell the truth and don’t worry.”  This is, obviously, not adequate witness or suspect preparation.  We see this from Korean law firms large and small.  Thus, the following list was prepared as a basic guide to necessaries prior to coming before a Korean Court, prosecutor or police investigator.  Please retain an attorney that has experience preparing clients for witness questionings and suspect interrogations – it is sad to note that few Korean attorneys have experience preparing even criminal defendants for court.  

The reality is, however, that all of the best criminal defense attorneys and Korean trial lawyers advise clients to tell the truth.  However, the best Korean lawyers, at a minimum, also advise the below basics. The following is a non-exclusive list of necessaries prior to being questioned by a Korean prosecutor, Korean police office or testifying as a suspect or a witness in court.  Not all items are relevant to the particular situation.

This is a basic list.  You must consult with an experienced attorney with significant experience handling your type of issue and handling matters for foreigners.

 Suspect/Witness Preparation Basics: Lawyer Preparation Basics

Your attorney should prepare the following:

  1. list of Anticipated Questions from the police, prosecutor, judge and counter party;
  2. comprehensive Timeline of Key Events;
  3. list of Key Exhibits/Evidence with a Summary;
  4. list of Key Witnesses with a Summary;
  5. list of known False Statements iterated by the counter party;
  6. list of known True Statements by the counter party;
  7. list of case Strengths & Weaknesses; and
  8. Summary of Relevant Law.

Suspect/Witness Preparation Basics (Client Preparation Basics)

  1. Be Truthful
    Criminal Case:
    Usually, lying leads to more issues than telling the truth.  The reality, in Korea, is that in most cases it is advisable for a suspect to provide statements to the police, prosecutor and court and not assert the right to remain silent, because of Korean legal system realities.In all but the most exceptional of cases, a legally guilty party shall plead guilty to, at least, some of the charges.  The issue, in these cases, typically, comes down to sentencing.

    Civil Case: Interested party witnesses are rarely called to a court, since it is perceived that the interested party witness shall lie.  Telling the truth concerning issues that are negative to your matter, often, surprises the court and allows a judge to believe ta non-neutral witnesses testimony.

  2. KISS (Keep it Short & Simple)
    Typically, it is not necessary to provide answers over a couple of sentences.  Try to utilize less complex sentence structures and less complex vocabulary when the process is conducted via an interpreter.
  3. Simulate Questions with your Attorney.  
    This is particularly important if the matter is via an interpreter.  Know that the interpreter is, often, not as capable as you may expect.  Please keep your language: KISS.  Additionally, you are not explaining anything to the interpreter to explain to the questioner.  You are providing a sentence for translation.It is essential to have, at least, one dry run.  The dry run shall allow you to feel more confidence, understand the expectations for you and, also, the role of the attorney and other parties.
  4. Pause Before each Question
    Pausing allows you to think and reflect on the question.
  5. Dress in a Business Suit, Military Uniform or Customary Professional Attire of your Nation
    You look like a bum – you shall be treated like a bum.
  6. Don’t get Angry
    Everyone in the room is, typically, just doing their job.  Often the expression of anger leads to negative feelings to individuals that may, now, fight harder to make you or your companies interest harmed by the pending matter.  It is harder emotionally to fight a saint than a soldier.  Emotions go along way in Korea.
  7. If you Don’t Remember – You Don’t Remember 
    If you don’t remember something, note that you don’t remember.  It is impossible for anyone to remember every little detail.  Everyone shall understand this.  Don’t feel like you need to be the Superman or Superwoman of Memory.
  8. Only Answer the Question Asked
    There is no need to speculate or volunteer additional information.   Just answer the question asked. Thus, for example, if you are asked if you are married, the best answer is either Yes or No.  Not Yes – Two Times.
  9. If you don’t understand a question – say you don’t understand
    If you don’t understand a question, do not answer the question and kindly request that the question is rephrased.

The following was a basic list of necessaries prior to placing your liberty, your future, your visa or your companies interests in jeopardy.  Take this matter very seriously.  Prepare and hire the best attorney you can afford and make sure he is proactive and, thus, prepares you for testifying over appearing before a prosecutor.

Sean Hayes

Known for his street-smart advice & proactive advocacy. Sean works with senior retired Korean judges and leading attorneys in contentious and transactional matters. First non-Korean lawyer (NY) to work at Korean Courts and one of the first non-Korean law professors. Rated a top lawyer in Korea by major rating agencies.

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