[JURIST] The government of South Korea is seriously considering abandoning capital punishment, according to officials at the country's Justice Ministry [official website] on Wednesday. Earlier this week the ministry ordered a study to determine how abolishing the death penalty - which has not been used since 1997 - would effect the crime rate. South Korea has been considered a soft target for anti-death penalty human rights groups, such as Amnesty International [official website; press release], because its leader until 2003, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung [Nobelprize.org profile] was once sentenced to death for fighting against South Korea's former dictators.
Recent polls, however, show that two-thirds of the South Korean public supports capital punishment, which is performed by hanging. The country has executed 902 people since the nation was formed in 1948. Currently 60 people sit on death row. If South Korea ended capital punishment it would be only the third nation in East and South-East Asia to do so. Reuters has more.