On 11 February the South Korean government abruptly shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a joint inter-Korean industrial zone located just north of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). The closure left more than 52,000 North Korean workers unemployed and more than 120 South Korean companies with nowhere to do business.
Last week’s US-South Korean “war games” in the Yellow Sea offshore China and Korea dramatically brought to a boil the long-simmering US-China dispute over what kinds of military activities can be conducted in another nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
What role, if any, should ordinary citizens play in determining guilt and punishment in criminal cases? Some Chinese courts, dissatisfied with the mixed tribunals of one judge and two lay assessors that hear many of their cases, have been experimenting with so-called “people’s juries” whom they “consult” before making decisions.
Are criminal trials too important to be decided by professional judges alone? That question is increasingly being asked – and answered – in various Northeast Asian jurisdictions. South Korea has used non-binding “consultative” juries since 2008. The following year, Japan instituted “mixed tribunals” composed of three judges and six laymen to decide both guilt and punishment. Even some courts in Mainland China, which has long authorized one or two Soviet-style “people’s assessors” to join judges in decision-making, have recently been experimenting with consultative “people’s juries.” Now Taiwan is considering an official proposal for five laymen to sit with and advise three judges in serious criminal trials.