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Reformation of the military judical system after the Gabo Reform : The Disciplinary Provisions for the Army and the Legal Code for the Army

Kim, Hye-young 1

1육군사관학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Military reforms during the Gabo Reform were continued even after the founding of the Korean Empire in 1897, with a goal of realizing the slogan “Rich Country, Strong Military (puguk kangbyŏng)” and strengthening the imperial power. The reorganized military consisted of the palace guards (ch’inwidae) and the imperial guards (siwidae) in the capital as well as the regional forces (chinwidae) and the local forces (chibangdae) in the provinces. The military was reorganized and expanded in this manner, and the Chosŏn government sought to manage and regulate it by modifying military laws and regulations. As a result, the government proclaimed the Disciplinary Provisions for the Army (Yukkun jingbŏllyŏng) on January 24th, 1896 (Edict No. 11) and the Legal Code for the Army (Yukkun pŏmnyul) on September 14th, 1900 (Ordinance No. 4). The Disciplinary Provisions was proclaimed in the following context of the dissolution of local military organizations following the reforms in local administration as well as the nationwide military reorganization. Through the Disciplinary Provisions, the Chosŏn government sought to prevent the dissolved local forces from joining the Resistance (ŭibyŏng) and to encourage them into joining the newly organized military organization. The Disciplinary Provisions was actively modeled after its counterpart in Japan (1881), but it aimed for a tighter control over the armed forces as one can see in a wider discretionary power of the disciplinary authority and the existence of physical punishments. After the founding of the Korean Empire, the military came to be directly controlled by the emperor, and it was reorganized and expanded further to reflect this new status. These changes were accompanied by an increasing number of soldiers committing crimes, and it became hard to control such crimes by the Disciplinary Provisions alone. Therefore, the imperial government proclaimed the Legal Code for the Army, which was basically a military criminal law. The Legal Code was legislated after two years of preparation under the slogan of “New Things Supplementing the Principle of Tradition (kubon sinch’am).” It consists of four parts and three hundred seventeen articles. When we compare it to existing legal codes such as Japan’s Army Criminal Code (1881), the Ming Code (Da Ming lü), and the Collection of Laws (Taejŏn hoet’ong), a few articles in the Legal Code stand out. For example, there is an article that deals with soldiers collaborating with political factions or foreign nations, and this reflected the reality of military involvement in past coups led by the Enlightenment Faction (kaehwap’a). There is also an article on how to punish an officer who acts as a legal authority in provinces. This reflected the reality of military officers still accepting and dealing with civil lawsuits and some local soldiers even forging military papers in order to embezzle some money. The Disciplinary Provisions was used as a “disciplinary regulation” that dealt with soldiers’ misdeeds not covered by criminal law, while the Legal Code was used as a “military criminal law” that dealt with soldiers’ crimes that went beyond the scope of the Disciplinary Provisions. In short, they complemented each other in actual operation. We need to analyze them within the bigger context of the Gabo Reform and the founding of the Korean Empire in order to appreciate fully the historical meaning and significance of them.

Citation status

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