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North Korea Protect Private Property by Law

Posted January. 16, 2005 21:57,   


It is reported on January 16 that North Korea published “Code of Laws of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (for general public) last August.

According to Yonhap News Agency which obtained the code, it contains 112 sets of laws including 13 new legislations such as the inheritance law, the software industry law, the narcotic control law, and the disabled protection law. The criminal procedure law, which was revised last May, is also added.

In the preface, the law publisher in North Korea said, “In order to let the general public understand the laws and help them in protecting themselves, we compile the socialist constitution and other current legislations in alphabetical order into this code of laws.”

One government official said, “Some newly enacted or revamped laws are included, but it basically compiles existing laws,” and “It is noteworthy that it was created for the general public.”

The Criminal Procedure Law -

The human rights conditions of the suspected or the accused have improved: For example, it became mandatory that the investigative agencies receive arrest warrants so that they will not arbitrarily restrain criminal suspects. The number of provisions has also increased from 305 to 439.

In the law, it is stipulated that after weighing the relative gravity of offenses, the pre-trial court cannot arrest or restrain those who are found to be minor offenders who will be sentenced to labor penalty, except in case of “special need.” The pre-trial court in North Korea usually books and inquires into the suspected.

The former law allowed suspects to be detained up to two months in the pre-trial procedure regardless of the kind of offenses, but the revamped law sharply reduced the custody period for misdemeanors to ten days or less. It also affirmed the open-trial principle, and added a provision to guarantee the independence of trials.

Law Professor Han In-sob of Seoul National University said, “As the criminal law of North Korea was revised in last April, it was indispensable to revamp the criminal procedure law,” and added, “In the contents of the law, more objective and accurate legal control is aimed. In addition, seeing that it distinguishes misdemeanors from general crimes, the practice of criminal law has become more elaborate.”

Inheritance law -

Enacted in March 2002 with four chapters and 58 clauses, the inheritance law guarantees the right of inheritance for personal properties. High-priced articles such as houses and automobiles can be inherited, and consumption goods such as money, savings, books, household appliances, cultural goods, and daily commodities can also be passed to the heirs.

As houses are included in inheritance, not only houses built with personal funds, but also lease for the state-owned residence, which people rent from the government on a long-term bases, can be succeeded.

North Korean Study Professor Nam Seong-wuk of Korea University said, “It is significant in that the range of inheritance has expanded and the personal property protection has been guaranteed by law,” and “The government acknowledges the right of inheritance to earned properties, but still the range is limited to houses and household goods.”

Also, North Korea prohibited those who deliberately avoided the responsibility to take care of their parents to inherit their parents’ properties, and set the order among the heirs to spare family disputes over heritage. In addition, children who lived with their parents or earn relatively less due to inferior labor capacity will inherit more, while share for those who were insincere in fulfilling their duty of supporting their parents can be cut off.

Other Laws -

In order to protect the interests of individuals and organizations, damage compensation law stipulates a wide range of liability for reparation and methods to estimate the amount of compensation in case of life and property loss.

Newly enacted in last June, the software industry law stipulates introducing state-planned production system, setting up distribution channels, securing technology infrastructure and training an IT workforce in order to nurture IT industry. Government agencies, companies, and organizations can use computer network service, which is equivalent to the Internet network, as well as software installing and repairing services, consulting service, and database system construction service.

Computer software protection law (enacted in June, 2003) stipulates software registration system in order to protect intellectual property rights including copyrights for 30 years up to 50 years.

Socialist commercial law, which was revised in last June, stipulates creating and managing markets, and license system for shops, restaurants, and other service providers.

Professor Jang Meong-bong of Kookmin University said, “Recently enacted or revamped economic-related laws are expected to remove uncertainties in North-South economic cooperation,” and added, “However, North Korean laws relating open-door policies and foreign investments are still unclear in certain regulations, and insufficient in settling possible disputes.”