Korean Courts of (in)Justice

Some of the rulings coming out of Korean courts lately have been dumb-founding. Maybe its always been this way and I haven’t noticed before. One of the big cases to make headlines in recent years was the arrest of two Indian men in the Hebei Spirit case. Some good news is that the Supreme Court has acquitted them and they are due  to shortly return to India. They have been held since 2007, a long time to wait to be acquitted.  That’s the good news.

Another big case story right now is the late Choi Jin-sil. She failed to ‘maintain her dignity’ after she came forward to show that her husband had beaten her up.  Shinhan Engineering and Construction company sued her, which is pretty unbelievable. But then the whole thing degenerates into absurdity as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Construction company. The Korean Womenlink and Korea Women’s Association United have issued a joint statement against the ruling. There are many things wrong with this story but what bugs me most is the apparent premise that a woman who bears signs of physical abuse, such as bruises is somehow a woman without dignity. 

The definition of dignity seems to be the question here – after all how can it be maintained if we don’t know what it is. One definition of dignity states it is: bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.  Along this definition I would think stepping forward publicly as a victim of domestic violence would be epitomise conduct indicative of self-respect and appreciation of the gravity of a situation. On the other hand, ruling against a women who is a victim of domestic violence as ‘failing to maintain dignity’ in favour of a company which failed to support their client in a time of trouble would suggest to me conduct indicative of idiots without a single notion in their head of the gravity of the situation and totally lacking any class, dignity or ability to claim self-respect.


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June 2009
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