Phenomenal Woman: Lee Tai-young

Lee Tai-young, Lawyer & Judge:

Born on 10 August 1914 in Pukhin, Unsan County, Korea (currently North Korea), she attended Ewha Women’s University with the intentions to become a lawyer. But was unable to because her husband was imprisoned for sedition in 1940s, by the Japanese Colonial Government, forcing her to abandon law to find work.

After his return, her husband encouraged her to continue her studies. So in 1946, she became the first woman to join Seoul National University and graduated three years later with a law degree.

In 1952, she was the first woman to pass the National Judicial Examination, and in 1957, after the Korean War, she started the Women’s Legal Counseling Center, which provided legal services to poor women.

She remained active in politics throughout the remainder of her life. Was labeled an enemy of President Park Chung-hee, when she participated in the 1976 Myongdong Declaration. Which called for the return of civil liberties to Korean citizens.

This escalated to receiving a three-year suspended sentence in 77’, losing her civil liberties and even being disbarred for ten years.

But none of that stopped her from continuing to being of service to others. Her law practice Women’s Legal Counseling Center, became the Korea Legal Aid Center for Family Relations. Which now serves more than 10,000 clients each year.

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