Shabbat and Shattered Dreams: Use of Proportionality in Religious Accommodation Law in Korea

Today, certain aspiring professionals in Korea are unable to take state-administered qualifying examinations due to their religious convictions. The Constitutional Court of Korea has repeatedly refused the request for religious accommodation for holy day observers who are unable to take exams on their original dates. This paper analyzes the series of decisions rejecting the need for such accommodation by focusing on the Court’s use of its main analytical tool – the proportionality principle. These decisions reveal important shortcomings in the Court’s application of the proportionality principle, thus shedding light on how the proportionality principle is applied in the context of Korean constitutional jurisprudence and the resultant deprivation of protection for certain fundamental rights in Korea. The paper then proposes a number of ways to improve the Court’s proportionality analysis and its constitutional reasoning.