A South Korean Latter-day Saint has been confirmed as a justice on the country’s Supreme Court. Youngjoon Kwon was nominated on June 9 and confirmed on July 19, 2023.
The Seoul native will serve for six years on the 14-member court. Kwon, an Area Seventy since 2020, said his faith has been a major influence in his law work.
“The missionary service I did after entering law school — postponing my studies for a year — changed my life,” he said. “I met so many people in need and had so many deep conversations. I cried a lot of tears because I was very sensitive. Even though my studies were delayed by a year, my reverence for life deepened tenfold. I realized more quickly that law is also a study of life.”
Kwon also touched on his experience serving his neighbors as a Latter-day Saint. “I wanted to connect my personal life to the welfare of the community,” he said. “I thought about how I could give back to the community with my time, talent and money, and I did that through my religion.”
In written testimony prior to his confirmation hearing, Kwon submitted various materials to Congress that emphasize the good the Church of Jesus Christ does in society.
Kwon, 52, spent much of his childhood and adolescence in the Church after his parents were baptized in 1975. He married his wife, Yeonshin Lee, in the Seoul Temple in 1995, and they have two sons and two daughters.
Kwon attended Seoul National University School of Law and passed the bar exam in 1993 and entered the Judicial Research and Training Institute. He was a judge advocate general in the Navy before being appointed as a judge of the Seoul District Court in 1999. He holds a doctorate from Seoul National University and a master’s degree from Harvard Law School. He has been a professor at Seoul National University School of Law since 2006 and served twice as vice dean of the Graduate School of Law.
As a legal scholar, Kwon has studied civil, intellectual property, privacy, and international trade aspects of the law. He has also published more than 30 books and 80 academic papers. He has also served as a working member of the Civil Law Revision Committee of the Ministry of Justice, chairman of the Legal Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Justice and a member of the National Intellectual Property Committee.
“The courtroom is not just a place of legal logic, but a place where life’s desperate appeals are heard,” Kwon said. “I will listen to the voices of life with a humble heart. The discourse on law should harmoniously incorporate the diverse voices of life, and I will make sure the voices of the few are not drowned out by the shouts of the many.”