I work at a government tribunal in Australia. I explained to my Korean-born wife that it's like a lower court, but there's a distinction in Australian law, even though I can't quite explain it even in English. Google Translate gives 법원 for court and 법정 for tribunal, but neither my wife or our niece could explain the difference. Our niece suggested that 법원 is court house and 법정 is court room. Papago gives both 법원 and 법정 for court and 법정 for tribunal, with the comment (특별한 문제를 다루는). Is there is a distinction in Korean law?
법 is "law", and 재판 "court trial". 원(official/public house), 소(place), 정(room, courtyard) can come after these words.
법원 = official word for court (지방 법원 (local), 고등 법원 (district or circuit?), 대법원 (supreme)). It means both the functional and physical court. E.g. 법원의 판결, 법원에 가야 한다.
법정 = official word for courtroom, where the proceedings take place. E.g. 법정 진술 (courtroom testimony).
재판소 = loose and more general word for 법원, e.g. courts in the old days or in foreign counties (e.g. 국제사법재판소 = ICJ, International Court of Justice). One case it is in the name of an official domestic court is 헌법재판소, the Constitutional Court.
재판정 = loose word for 법정.
법원 is a court as an institution or the building where the institution resides in. 법정 is a specific physical place that a trial takes place.
In Korean law, the term 법원 is used in most cases:
- 각급 법원의 설치와 관할구역에 관한 법률 (ACT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT AND JURISDICTION OF COURTS OF VARIOUS LEVELS)
The term 법정 is used in a few cases for a specific Enforcement Rules such as:
- 법정 좌석에 관한 규칙 (Enforcement Rule for the Court Seating)
- 법정 등의 질서유지를 위한 재판에 관한 규칙 (Enforcement Rules on trials for the order in courts)
** The English translation of the name of the enforcement rules is not official.
You may notice that the term 법원 is about the institution and 법정 is about physical place.