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Lost and Found in «Translation»

Circulating Ideas of Policy and Legal Decisions Processes in Korea and Germany


Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler

This book analyzes policy translation and its ends, how the concept of translation explains the emergence and (ex-)changes of policy ideas in different places and/or across borders in general, as well as the effectiveness of this concept in analyzing cases of actual policy dissemination. This book discusses these questions on a general theoretical level and within the context of actual policies and laws mainly between South Korea and Germany. South Korea is widely considered a typical example of a reforming country that is on the receiving end of disseminations of policies and ideas from advanced countries. From this point of view, it constitutes a highly interesting case for testing the applicability of the translation approach. The basic idea of this book is to analyze how different actors in different contexts and settings adopt varying interpretations and understandings of an idea, and how well the analytical concept of translation can be utilized for this endeavor.
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(6) Legal Translations “Made In Korea”


[W]hat we can see more clearly […] is that in this process of translation there is always gain and always loss, always transformation; that the “original meaning” of the text cannot be our meaning, for restating it in our terms, in our world, no matter how faithfully or literally, we produce something new and different (White 1990: 241).

In building the new [legal] tradition, we cannot simply copy or borrow. Our experiment will be uniquely our own, whether we desire it to be so or not (Hahm 1971: 83).

Abstract The author applies the analytical concept of translation to the generation and alteration of legal ideas and norms in Korea, whereby the Korean constitution and its provision on political parties, together with other Korean laws related to political parties, serve him as representative cases.

1. Introduction

South Korea (hereafter: Korea) is typical of countries that are said to have borrowed or adopted substantial parts of their legal ideas, norms, and practices from “developed countries.” Earlier kingdoms and dynasties of Korea had close relations with those of China for many centuries. Korea later endured foreign occupation by the Japanese empire for about half a century, and for decades afterwards was a so-called developing country under strong U.S. influence. Not surprisingly, the influence of these countries has also made itself felt in the area of Korean law. One of the most central and lasting influences on Korea’s legal culture, however, can be...

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