By a 5-4 vote, South Korea's Constitutional Court has upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, per this report in the Hankyoreh. Notably, two of the justices in the majority called for legislative modification or abolition of the death penalty. The Korean Bar Association's statement in response to the ruling describes "the prestige of the state" as being at stake, which suggests that South Korea might be feeling the pull of constitutional convergence on this issue. Having not carried out an execution in 13 years, South Korea is classified by Amnesty International as "abolitionist in practice," which suggests that formal abolition of the death penalty might be of mostly symbolic value. Then again, constitutional law arguably serves more of a symbolic function than ordinary law.
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