Regulatory reform in Korea has been one of the major policy agendas of all the successive governments since 1990s. Represented by the Presidential Regulatory Reform Committee(RRC) which was established in 1998, the innovative feature of the current Korean system is to have introduced a permanent system of reform by creating a permanent office in the Prime Minister’s Office to control and monitor the quality of regulations. This implies the regulatory reform in Korea has become a permanent part of the government function, in contrast to the unsuccessful policy of regulatory reform of the 1980s which was transient and advisory.
Despite the 30 years of reform, the current state of Korean regulation is not improving and actually getting worse, although the Korean regulatory reform system itself has been recommended as best practice by various international organizations, such as OECD and the World Bank. Therefore, it can be argued that the problem of the currently regretable state of Korean regulation is caused by the poor implementation of the good system.
In this paper, I argue that the fundamental problem of Korean regulations is the poor quality of the regulations not the quantity, and that it is important to focus on the quality aspects of the regulations to minimize the compliance cost of the regulatees. The key factors that determine regulatory quality are discussed, and the causes of the deterioration of Korean regulatory quality are analyzed. Finally, it is recommended that there should be a quality control mechanism in the legislative branch, the National Assembly, where currently there is no such mechanism, and that the Regulatory Reform Committee should be revitalized to function as effective quality control center within the administrative branch of the government.