NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steven Kim left for Seoul over the weekend.
He was invited by the South Korean government to spend six months in Seoul teaching Korean prosecutors trial practice skills and lecturing on the American Criminal Justice System in anticipation of the country’s adoption of a grand jury system. The South Korean government has agreed to provide Kim and his family housing and a stipend for his services.
South Korea adopted an advisory jury system in 2008 in an effort to make its legal system more democratic.
Since then, the country’s jury practice has been constantly evolving. South Korea’s system is similar to the United States’ trial-by-jury system, except the Korean jury’s ruling is not legally binding on the judge. It is simply an advisory opinion for the judge to consider.
Ultimately, judges have the right to determine the verdict and the sentence, regardless of the opinion from the jury.
Kim was invited to lend his expertise to Korean prosecutors because of his extensive criminal trial practice and experience. He also speaks Korean fluently. Kim is a second-generation Korean American who has worked for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) since 2001.
Kim and his wife, Lina, are both products of Seattle, having attended the University of Washington for undergraduate work and graduate school. His family of four resides in Seattle.
“Steven is a natural choice for this very special assignment,” stated Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg in a release. “He is bright, charismatic, and has excellent trial skills. He embodies an important export for our country — our system of justice. Jury trials are a new concept in South Korea, but a fundamental part of our system, acting as a check between the power of government to accuse and the power to punish. I have no doubt that he will be a tremendous resource for Korean prosecutors and the Korean government. We are happy to allow Steven to be of service, and will be saving his spot at the PAO, so he can return home.” (end)
Information from: King County PAO