How can I possibly be detained in Korea

Arrest procedures in Korea (How can I possibly be detained in Korea)- Korean Criminal procedure 1

Arrest Procedures in Korea: How can I possibly be detained in Korea?

Our law office is a firm specializing, among other areas of law, in criminal matters regarding foreigners. Our managing partner, Mr. Simon D. Lee, has been certified as an expert criminal defense attorney by the Korean Bar Association.


We will start a new series consisting of four articles that will be published throughout the next 4 weeks, where we will let in on the legal protocol that you should know when you find yourself involved in a criminal case in Seoul or South Korea.

This time, we will explain what situations can get you involved in a criminal case and what factors may lead to your detention.


1. The ways you can get involved in criminal cases.

There are two ways how a foreigner can get involved in a criminal case. Either 1) somebody files a written accusation to an investigative authority against the offender (investigation based on accusation), or 2) there was no written accusation, but an investigative authority by itself recognized the need to initiate an investigation (investigation based on detection). A typical example of a case where the investigative authority decided to initiate an investigation is when the offender committed wrongdoing and the victim filed a report to the police and a dispatched to the crime scene policeman detected the wrongdoing by himself (most of the cases).


2. Factors that may lead to arrest/detention

After you get involved in a criminal case in one of the ways described above, the investigative authority can carry out an investigation either with or without detaining you. If:

  • the crime is serious (any drug case, except for cannabis-related charges, the victim is dead or heavily injured, the monetary damage is big, etc.);
  • the level of suspicion is high;
  • there is no fixed abode;
  • there is a high risk that the suspect will flee or evidence will be destroyed

the chance of detention is high.

On the other hand, if:

  • the crime is not serious (smoking or import of small amounts of cannabis, minor indecent act by compulsion, the monetary damage is small);
  • there is a lot of room to argue the case;
  • the place of residence of the foreigner is fixed;
  • the risk of suspect’s fleeing is low because he or she has a job or a family in South Korea, the risk of evidence being destroyed is low because the suspect made a confession regarding the facts of crime

the chance of the investigation proceeding further without detention is high.


Thanks for reading this post on “How can I possibly be detained in Korea?”. Next time, we will talk about ways to get released if you were detained and what you should keep in mind if you were lucky enough to stay out of a detention center for the period of investigation. Stay tuned!

arrest procedures in korea

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