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Forests Survey Inspection Request Case [Petitioner v. Supervisor of County of Ichon]

Case number:
1 KCCR 176, 88Hun-Ma22
South Korea
Date of decision:
4 September 1989
Court / Arbiter:
Constitutional Court ( Constitutional )

Relevant law :
Constitution, Article 21 ( Constitution )


Restriction of access to information is unreasonable—in violation of a person’s right to know—where the information has not been classified as confidential, disclosure does not implicate the invasion of another’s privacy, and such person has a direct interest in the information.

Freedom of expression (including RTI as element of or integral to)
Public interest (including public interest override, information of public interest)
RTI law
Status of requester (including interest in information, citizenship, legal person, standing)

Case details:


The petitioner inherited land that became the State's property without his knowledge. The petitioner made several requests to the Supervisor of the County for title records, surveys, and land tax ledgers held by the County. After the Supervisor withheld certain land surveys and private forests use surveys, petitioner filed a constitutional action against the Supervisor.


The Court ruled that right to information (a “right to know”) is a precondition of freedom of speech and press guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, and essential to that right is sufficient access to information held, collected, and processed by the government. Further, the public has a claim-right to request disclosure of information held by the government, and the government must comply with such requests. However, access to information can be reasonably restricted by balancing the direct interests of the person requesting information against the potential harm to the public interest. In this case, restriction of access to information was unreasonable because the records had not been classified as confidential and disclosure did not implicate the invasion of another’s privacy, while the petitioner had a direct interest in the information.


While this was the first case recognizing a constitutional right to know, it was followed by others. In the Records Duplication Request case, CC90Hun-Ma133, the Court decided that the Prosecutor’s Office acted unconstitutionally when it denied a former criminal defendant the opportunity to obtain his trial records. Following these constitutional cases, the National Assembly adopted the Official Information Disclosure Act in late 1996.


Summary of the case.