Republic of Korea

At the end of the Korean War, the Peninsula was divided into two separate states, but the countries remain formally at war. Occasional confrontations occur, ICC opened a preliminary examination into war crimes allegedly committed in South Korea in 2010.
Since the partition of North and South Korea after the Korean War, a tense relationship has existed between the two neighbouring countries on the Korean Peninsula.

The Republic of Korea (RoK) ratified the Rome Statute in 2002, and acceded to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities in 2006. Domestic legislation on cooperation and complementarity has been enacted. A preliminary examination into the situation into the ROK related to two incidents in the Yellow Sea was closed in 2014 because the ICC prosecutor found did not find evidence of Rome Statute crimes.  

Since the Korean Peninsula was divided into two separate states at the end of the Korean War a tense bilteral relationship has existed between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). The 1953 armistice agreement ended the three-year war between the two Koreas, but since no peace treaty was signed the countries remain formally at war. Occasional confrontations between the two Koreas occur. A major source of tension is the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea known as the Northern Limit Line. In 2010 the risk of war in the Yellow Sea increased as a result of two incidents causing harm to both South Korean civilians and marines.
ICC situation

Preliminary examination of alleged war crimes in the Yellow Sea

The ICC prosecutor opened a preliminary examination into war crimes allegedly committed in the South Korea in 2010. The examination focused on two separate incidents in the Yellow Sea, the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, which resulted in the death of four and injuring of dozens of South Korean civilians and marines.

After thorough analysis of the information available, the OTP decided in June 2014 to close the examination because the statutory requirements for opening a formal investigation were not met. The OTP found that the attack on the Cheonan was directed at a lawful military target, and therefore does not meet the definition of a war crime under the Rome Statute. Also the examination provided no evidence of an intentional attack against violence or the use of excessive violence on Yeonpyeong island. The prosecutor stated at the time that this conclusion can be reconsidered in the light of new facts or evidence.


The ROK adopted an ICC act, the Act on the Punishment of Crimes within the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in November 2007. Among its provisions are procedures for how Korea is to cooperate with the Court, giving jurisdiction to domestic courts to prosecute Rome Statue crimes, and providing penalties for offences in a breach of cooperation with the ICC in terms of administering justice.

The Government of the ROK extended full cooperation to the OTP in its preliminary examination.

National prosecutions

Civil society in the Republic of Korea remains active on working towards accountability for victims of grave crimes and for the protection of vulnerable populations, both within its borders and those of its neighbours. South Korean groups provided various forms of support to the 2014 findings of the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, which outlines the ongoing gross human rights violations suffered by its population. 

The English version of the ICC Act has been completed and made available on the government website. Civil society throughout Asia is making this version available to countries as a means to help move their own implementing process forward.