Desistance from and persistence in male offending: The case of South Korea

Trent Bax, Youngsun Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the first of its kind published in English, this study of desistance among male offenders in South Korea addresses the knowledge deficit regarding criminal career-based research from non-Western societies. Using arrest records from 1998 to 2009, 3102 criminal careers are traced from adolescence into adulthood. Each offender is classified either a ‘desister’ (74.1%), a ‘potential-desister’ (19.2%) or a ‘persister’ (6.7%). The delinquent histories of eighty-three detainees were surveyed to identify the effect home, employment, and/or friendship stability had upon desistance. Logistic regression analysis found friendship stability had the greatest effect. The study also compares the 6.7% persisters to the ‘chronic 6%’ and ‘severe 5%’ identified by Western-based studies. In response to Moffitt's ‘temporary vs. persistent dual taxonomy’ an alternative ‘desistant vs. persistent tripartite taxonomy’ is proposed. Based upon the findings, and practical experience, several policy suggestions rooted in Laub and Sampson's ‘situated choice’ view of desistance are proffered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Crime and Justice
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Criminal career
  • Desistance
  • Life-course
  • Offending
  • Persistence
  • South Korea


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