English I 2019
In 2018, the courts handled a total of 17.65 million cases, including 6.59 million contentious cases (37.3%) and 11.07 million non-contentious cases (62.7%). Among the cases handled, under contentious cases, civil cases were the most common, followed by criminal (detention and fine, trafficking, and prostitution added to criminal), family, juvenile (domestic care, victim protection orders, child protection, child victim protection orders added to juvenile), administrative, patent, and election. The most common non-contentious cases were registration, followed by family registration and deposit. The Supreme Court, high courts, and district courts (trial courts and appeal courts) handled the contentious cases. On the other hand, the district courts at the first-trial level handled the non-contentious cases.
By type of case, the 6.59 million contentious cases handled include civil (72.1%), criminal (22.1%), family (2.6%), and other (3.2%), with civil and criminal cases accounting for the majority. Of all contentious cases handled, by the merits of the case, there were more cases on the merits (77.8%), which have judicial nature, than cases on the non-merits (22.2%), which have administrative characteristics. The proportion of cases on the merits of appeal courts was higher than that of the district court at the first-trial level.
The proportions of contentious cases handled by the Supreme Court, high court, district court of appeals, and district court were 1.0%, 1.0%, 2.1%, and 95.9%, respectively. More than 50% of all contentious cases handled by the appeal courts, including the Supreme Court, high court, and the collegiate court of the district court, were criminal cases.
The Supreme Court, located in Seoul, handled 65,944 contentious cases. Of these cases, 47,979 cases (72.7%) were cases on the merits. High courts are located in Seoul, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan, and Gwangju; the patent court, located in Daejeon, is at the same level as the high court. The high courts handled 69,111 contentious cases. Of these cases, 31,572 cases (45.7%) were cases on the merits. The collegiate court of the district court is an appellate court. It handled 136,662 contentious cases. Of these cases, 114,041 cases (83.4%) were cases on the merits. The district courts at the first-trial level handled 6.31 million contentious cases. Of these cases, 1.27 million cases (20.1%) were cases on the merits. The proportion of cases on the merits among the contentious cases handled by the district court at the first-trial level is lower than that of appeal courts.
The regional distribution of contentious cases by the level of instance shows that the cases on the merits heard in the district court, the collegiate court of the district court, and the high court are concentrated in the Seoul Metropolitan area. The number of cases on the merits per 10,000 people for the trial court is significantly higher in the Seoul metropolitan area than that of other parts of the nation. It is because civil cases, which account for the largest proportion of the cases on the merits, are concentrated in the Seoul metropolitan area in which economic activity is high.