South Korea to Send Legal Notices Via Cell Phones

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South Korea will begin sending legal notices — including indictments — to people through mobile phones instead of ordinary mail next year.

Jun Dae-jin, an official at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, said trials of legal notices via text and voice messages will begin in January, and full service by midyear.

Jun said prosecutors decided to shift to the electronic service because regular mail takes time and can get overlooked or lost when people change addresses.

He also cited privacy concerns with ordinary mail, saying family members and relatives of recipients could potentially see embarrassing legal notices.

Prosecutors will send legal notices only to people who want to receive them electronically, and those without mobile phones can continue to receive notices through postal mail, Jun said.

The profusion of mobile phones in high-tech South Korea has resulted in about 80 percent of the country's 48 million people owning the devices, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Initially, people can request to receive notices on fines and the progress of investigations. When full service begins, all legal notices, including indictments, will be available electronically.

Prosecutors expect to save about $158,000 a year during the trial and $1.18 million when full service is operational, Jun said.