Korean Legal Research at the University of Washington

Updated June 16, 2016 | Please send comments to Rob Britt: rrbritt@uw.edu
Prepared by William B. McCloy. Updated by Kelly Yun Ju Kang and Rob Britt


Objectives of This Guide

The objective of this guide is to introduce some of the most useful resources for finding Korean legal information, along with some hints about the best ways to use them, and to introduce the East Asian Law Department (EALD) and the kinds of services we provide.

Information about the Korean Law Collection

  • History: The University of Washington's Korean law collection consists of books and journals in various languages covering all periods of Korean legal history. The collection received a great boost in the late 1980's with a gift of hundreds of volumes of books and journals in the Korean language, donated by Korean alumni of the Asian Law Program.
  • Library Holdings: The Library has approximately 2,330 titles on Korean law and Korean studies. This includes roughly 2,093 monographic titles and 237 serials titles. Approximately 75% of the collection is in Korean.
  • Collection Development Policy
    • Collection Goals
      The overall goal of the Gallagher Law Library's Collection Development Policy is to "support the curricular and research needs of the University of Washington School of Law."
    • Current Collecting
      Korean law is not a permanent part of the Law School's curriculum and there are currently no permanent faculty doing research on Korean law. Nevertheless, Korean law is considered an important component of the Law School's Asian and Comparative Law curriculum. As a result, materials on South Korean law are collected at the "Instructional Support Level". This includes primary materials in Korean and English and secondary materials in English. Secondary materials on Korean law in Korean are added when received by the Library as gifts. Materials on North Korean law are collected at the "Minimal Level". In general, when important materials come to our attention, we make every effort to acquire them.

Notes about Romanization (Transliteration) of Korean

Records for Korean material in the library's online catalog include original Korean scripts, and it is possible to search the catalog using han'gul or Chinese characters (hancha). However, often good results are obtained by searching in romanized Korean: Korean words transliterated into the Roman alphabet. For successful searching using romanized Korean, searchers need to know how title, author, and other data about Korean books is transliterated in the library catalog. The Gallagher Law Library and University of Washington catalogs use a standard established by the North American library community which is based on the McCune-Reischauer System, as modified by the U.S. Library of Congress: Korean Romanization and Word Division (PDF, 2009 edition). Note that this is different from the revised romanization scheme adopted by the Korean government in 2000 (see:  "Romanization of Korean" by the National Institute of the Korean Language in Korea). The McCune-Reischauer system is based on the pronunciation of Korean, not strictly on the han'gŭl spelling.

Notice particularly the two different romanizations below of the han'gŭl syllable 법 | 法, meaning "law"  which, depending on context, could be romanized as pŏp, bŏp, bŏb, or pŏb:

Hancha Han'gul McCune-Reischauer
韓國海運學會誌 한국해운학회지 Han'guk Haeun Hakhoe chi
總則 민법총칙 Minpŏp ch'ongch'ik
大法院 Taebŏbwŏn

Comparative romanization tables are found in many Korean dictionaries, and some information may be found on websites such as those below. Help is also available in the East Asian Law Department.

Online Korean romanization guides and information

Searching Tips

  • Diacritics such as the "breve" (as in: ŏ) and apostrophes (as in: ch'ongch'ik) should not be input for online catalog searches, as search software in the library catalog is set up to ignore them.
  • Romanization used in other indexes and catalogs (and sometimes the Library catalog) is not always consistent. In some cases, romanization schemes are inconsistently applied within one index or catalog. So when searching for romanized Korean text, it is a good practice to use the browse function if it is available, and/or try different romanization and word division possibilities.


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