More than 400 lawyers dispatched to villagesSamdong-myeon is a small seaside village in Namhae County, South Gyeongsang, located near the beautiful Hallyeo Haesang National Park.
Most of the 4,500 residents are in their 60s or 70s, making their living as fishermen or farmers.
As there have been few crimes or conflicts, they haven’t had a law office here.
However, the town will now finally get a lawyer. Jang Jun-dong, a 52-year-old lawyer who runs his own office in nearby Busan, has been appointed to be a counselor in charge of the village by the government.
The Korean Bar Association, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Security and Public Administration signed a joint agreement yesterday naming 414 lawyers to be official counselors for 246 villages nationwide that have no lawyers.
Although the counselors will not stay in the designated regions, they will receive any inquiries seeking legal advice by phone, e-mail or fax. If needed, they will connect applicants to the Korean Bar Association or other legal agencies for further help like as filing a lawsuit.
Residents can check the contact information of their own attorneys by visiting their local government offices.
According to statistics from the Korean Bar Association, the Gangwon region received 33 lawyers and Jeolla region 67. The Gyeongsang areas received 49.
The ages of the appointed lawyers vary, from newly minted attorneys who passed the bar exam last year, to veterans with 40 years of experience.
Jang, who grew up in a neighboring village of Samdong-myeon, said he volunteered for this job.
“I wanted to share my gifts with the people in the neighborhood of my hometown,” Jang said. “I want to be intimate with the local people, like the son of an elderly parent suffering minor legal problems.”
Choe Byeong-hyeon, the 51-year-old head of the Samdong-myeon community center, said, “As we are living in such a small village, everyone knows each other. So we tend to hide our own problems [for fear of rumors]. We expect the lawyers to be a great help.”
The idea was proposed by the nation’s bar association to expand legal services to every corner of the country. Among some 15,000 lawyers registered by the association, 82.7 percent of them work in the Seoul and Gyeonggi region.
By Kim Ki-hwan, Kim Hee-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]