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P.I. Law in Korean 

Update: 7/10/2018

News Source:

The Korea Herald News by Claire Lee

South Korea's constitutional court rules in favor of banning private detective agencies


South Korea's Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of banning private detective agencies, claiming the existing laws are the only way to protect the privacy of the general public.

The unanimous ruling was the court’s response to a complaint filed by an ex-police officer who claimed Article 40 of the Credit Information Use and Protection Act violates the freedom to pursue careers of one‘s choosing.

South Korea is currently the only country among the 34 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development where private detective service is illegal.

The law states that no person, other than a credit information company, shall perform “finding out a certain person’s whereabouts and contacts” and “investigating his or her private life.” It also bans using titles such as private intelligence service agents and detectives.

Those who violate the law can face up to three years in prison or a fine up to 30 million won ($26,902). 

“There were recent instances where people illegally collected personal information on others by using spy cams or location trackers,” the court said. “Considering this, there is no way to protect people’s privacy and peace of mind other than by banning businesses that investigate personal lives of others.”

On the ban on the use of the title “private detective” and “intelligence service agents,” the court said the ban is necessary as people can be misled to think that private intelligence or detective service is legal in the country.

In many other countries, including Japan and Canada, private detectives, who can be hired by individuals, often work for attorneys in criminal or civil cases. 

Currently, two legislative bills that propose the introduction of government-licensed private investigators or detectives have been introduced at the National Assembly. 

By Claire Lee

Current Law related P.I. 

* Investigative Business is still not legalized yet in Korea until the Private Detective Law is passed. Currently, legislative division of  Congress already prepared the Private Detective Law, but has not yet discussed it in the review committee in Congress. 
Without the Private Detective Law, some of the PI activities are prohibited such as using a title "TAMJUNG"(Korean language of Private Investigator) and investigate or locate individual person without authorized by entity.
* P.I. activity is very limited in Korea. 

For more information about P.I. related Law are below. 

Fact about Private Investigation

According to Korean law, Private Investigations is very much limited. Even using the title, Private Investigator, is prohibited. 
Based on our research,  three P.I. activities are prohibited, specified by "Financial Information Business Law" as follow . 


  • Using a title Private Detective

  • Investigate personal life.

  • Locate Individual Person.



By the way, there are 100 s of self claimed P.I. that are practicing illegally in Korea. 
They don't just violate a P.I. related law, some of them even commit serious crimes such as wiretapping, coercion etc.
That is the one of the main reason that Dept. of Justice protest to legalize the Private Detective business.
They are commonly called "Sim Bu Rum Center", originally permitted [Messenger Service].
As we explained, there are no license system and/or legalized yet in Korea.
We had opened a branch office in Korea but pulled out, also most of other foreign investigation agency include Pinkerton Agency due to Korean Law. 

Law related Private Investigation


The Supreme Court decision of appeal case that registered to Tax Agency as 
P.I. to do business was explained  illegal in 1994. 

"Supreme court explained that it could not be excused if the specific activities are prohibited by "Financial Information Business Law". 
Even if the defendant believed that P.I. business was legal, because it was researched that P.I. business was listed on the business bureau of government agency, and confirmed with government officers that P.I. business is not listed to be required a registeration or to get permission under the general business law and the Tax Agency allowed him to register as a Private Detective Business." 
100s of P.I were prosecuted in the last several years because they violated several other laws such as Privacy Law etc.
One of P.I. was sentenced because he used the title, Private Investigator. 
This Court judgement was reported by The newspaper "Korea Times" on 3/22/2000. 
Seoul District Criminal Court, Eastern branch, issued an order to be sentenced 1-year in jail and 2 years probation. 
Applied law was Korean Public Law. # 5378, sec. 26 of 5 & 6 
Here are the Laws mentioned about P.I. work. 
Korean Public Law. # 5378, sec. 26 of Article 5 & 6 
So called "Financial Information Protection Law" already existed in 1978 
and was updated 1/21/2000. 
Sec 26. 

Article 5 : nobody is allowed to investigate a private life or locate individuals 
                 unless permitted by other law. 
Article.6 : nobody is allowed to use a title "Private Investigator", "Intelligent Agent" or 
                 Similar meaning title.

Even if they do not violate the above law, they cannot accept any fees or any values for services. 
It is a violation of the Attorney Practice Law. 
Services for fees are illegal brokering unless permitted by other law. 
Brokering is an act of lawyer in Korea. It is a felony crime. 
The Lawyer is the most protected profession in Korea. 
But Korean Government does not enforce that law unless it becomes a 
serious social problem or a formal complaint was filed.
Most of P.I operate a business underground without offices. 

There are few foreign detective agencies that operate under name of consulting firm in Korea.
We believe they do not accept a domestic or personal investigation.

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