• Vita

    Marie Seong-Hak Kim is a historian and jurist. A specialist of sixteenth-century France and early modern and contemporary Korea, she is also known for her works on Japanese colonialism and comparative law. She was a fellow at several institutes in Europe, including the Collegium de Lyon, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. As a native of South Korea, she graduated from Ewha Womans University and received her Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Minnesota Bar.

  • Research Project

    Custom and Comparative Legal History

    This project sets forth the evolution of custom as a source of law in European and East Asian history. The concept of customary law was key machinery, across time and space, in reconciling the pre-existing legal order with a new legal system from outside. Its function in receiving foreign law has plenty of precedents in European history, for example in late medieval France in the wake of the revival of Roman law. Similar developments took place in East Asia in the late nineteenth century, as Meiji Japan adopted the notion of custom as law from Europe in the process of transforming its traditional laws and popular practices into modern law and also of integrating the laws of its colonies into the state legal structure. On the global imperial scene, custom referred to virtually anything that was not part of the colonizer’s legal universe, but the actual course of policy varied widely, affected by each power‘s conception of its enterprise in the overseas venture. Custom offers a rare analytical instrument through which one can compare different legal pasts side by side, with attention to the premises and postulates of the individual countries’ legal developments as well as the historical forces that brought them into contact with one another. A synthetic comparative study of custom can enrich our analytical framing of legal pluralism in history.

  • Selected Publications

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, Custom, Law, and Monarchy: A Legal History of Early Modern France, Oxford 2021.

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, Constitutional Transition and the Travail of Judges: The Courts of South Korea, Cambridge 2019.

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, The Spirit of Korean Law: Korean Legal History in Context, Leiden/Boston 2016.

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, Law and Custom in Korea: Comparative Legal History, Cambridge 2012.

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, History Is Not Destiny: Colonial Compensation Litigation and South Korea-Japan Relations, in: Journal of Asian Studies 81 (2022), 475–491.

    Kim, Marie Seong-Hak, Rites and Rights: Lineage Property and Law in Korea, in: L’Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques, Revue électronique du CRH 22 (2020).