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Korea’s Refugee Act: A Critical Evaluation under International Law

Wolman, A. (2013). Korea’s Refugee Act: A Critical Evaluation under International Law. Journal of East Asia and International Law, 6(2), pp. 479-496.


On December 29, 2011, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea passed the Law on the Status and Treatment of Refugees, which will go into effect on July 1, 2013. The law was the culmination of years of effort by the government, NGOs, UNHCR and the lawmakers. It has been widely praised by civil society groups in Korea. However, there has been little critical analysis of its provisions whether it will truly be a successful legislation. This research critically evaluates whether the new law is likely to promote Korean compliance with international legal standards, namely, the 1951 Refugee Convention and major human rights treaties. It finds that while the law represents a significant improvement over current practices, it possesses problematic provisions related to detention, refugee determination, economic and social rights of asylum-seekers, and the treatment of recognized refugees. This essay will conclude by highlighting four outstanding implementation questions that could impact compliance with international standards.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Refugee Law, 1951 Refugee Convention, UNHCR, Refugee Rights, Asylum-Seekers
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
The City Law School > International Law and Affairs Group
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