Archive for March, 2011

HRM News Brief March 26-28, 2011

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment


HRM News Briefs                                                                                March 26, 2011


Police Seek Arrest Warrant of University Group’s President

The Korean National Police Agency is currently investigating a university student academic group called Capitalism Research Society and has requested an arrest warrant for the group’s first president. The president is a 37-year-old individual and is being pursued by the National Police on charges of violating Korea’s National Security Act proscriptions against praising North Korea. Authorities claim that the university group is encouraging North Korea by forming a group working in the interest of ‘the enemy.’ Civic groups protested what they called the “forming of an atmosphere of a police state.”



Father and Son Walk to Raise Disabilities Awareness

Lee Jin-seob, 47, and his 19-year old-son, Gyun-do, set out on a 40-day, 600-kilometer (372-mile) walk from Busan to Seoul. Lee heads a social welfare counseling center in Gijang County, Busan. His son, Gyun-do is autistic. He and his son are walking 15 kilometers per day to complete their goal. During the journey, Lee said a rope keeps him and his teenage son together because “Gyun-do is 180 centimeters tall and weighs 100 kilograms (220 pounds. There’s no way I can control him if he becomes overly excited. He could jump into the middle of the road or run away.” Lee quit his job 10 years ago to look after his son. His wife runs a small coffee shop in Busan.  Lee earned a diploma in social welfare from the Catholic University of Busan last year and opened the counseling center for parents with disabled children.


March 27, 2011

Reports Indicate Korean Youths Lack Social Skills

A state research institute conducting an international youth survey showed that Koreans came last in terms of social skills. According to the National Youth Policy Institute, Korean teens on average ranked the lowest among 36 countries in terms of relationship orientation and social cooperation. The results were based on the analysis of a survey taken by 14,600 second grade middle school students all over the world. Results indicated that Koreans scored last in both relationship orientation and social cooperation in regards to issues regarding school and community group participation, immigrants, and institutions, among others.


Labor Union Battles with Kumho Tires

Kumho Tires, Korea’s second largest tire maker, is continuing their battle with their labor union, causing Kumho Tires to close down plants for longer than expected. Union workers initially staged a one-day strike as a warning, calling for the management to initiate talks on key issues such as pay raises and the improvement of working conditions. The management responded by shutting down its two plants in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, saying the collective move is illegal. The following day, the company planned to resume operations by allowing the workers who submitted a written confirmation not to join in further strikes to return to the factories. However, the union denounced the move, claiming the firm is forcing unionists not to take part in the strikes and asked all the union members not to return to work.

March 28, 2011


UN Report Indicates One Forth of North Korea is Starving

The United Nations World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization delivered a sobering verdict on the food situation in North Korea, saying 6 million people in the impoverished country—a fourth of the population—are in dire need of food. The two agencies’ report which came a month after UN officials conducted on-site observations in several provinces, emphasized that children, women, and the elderly are at risk after severe summer flooding in the northern areas of North Korea and a harsh winter wiped out many of the North’s crops. The two organizations called for 470,000 tons of food aid for North Korean.


Activists to Quietly Float Leaflets to North Korea

Activists have decided to quietly float propaganda leaflets to North Korea without announcing their plans after a series of recent run-ins with residents near the border who worried about reprisals from the North. The head a coalition of activist groups stated that the time and location would remain under wrap and that better equipment would allow the leaflets attached to helium balloons to can now be launched by one or two people, reducing the risk of protests from locals or shots being fired from North Korea. However, members of Fighters for Free North Korea said his group will launch at least some balloons openly in a show of defiance against North Korea’s threat last week to fire shots at launch sites. Last week, the group was forced to withdraw their loudspeakers which were to blast propaganda across the demilitarized zone after North Korea threatened to shoot at them.

Categories: Children, Disability, Labour

News Brief March 15, 2011

March 16, 2011 Leave a comment

HRM News Briefs

March 15, 2011


NHRCK Establish Center to record North Korean Human Rights Violations

National Human Rights Commission of Korea has released a statement stating that they will be establishing a center to investigate and record North Korean Human Rights infringements. Through investigations with North Korean defectors the center plans to archive infringement for future policy making and human rights reform in North Korea.

Documentation of North Korean human rights infringements were mostly done by local NGO’s. This is the first time that a national governmental agency has taken the initiative to archive the infringements.


Jungmi Lee, Second Female to be Appointed Constitutional Courtship Judge

Since the establishment of the constitutional courts in South Korea in 1988 only one female has thus far been appointed to the constitutional courtship. This has changed on March 14, 2011. It was announced that Jungmi Lee was appointed to the courtship making her the second female on the panel. 

The chief justice of the supreme court, Yonghoon Lee, stated on January 31, 2011 that Lee was nominated as an appropriate candidate to the public’s request for a non Seoul National University graduate, female judge that will protect the social minorities.



News Brief March 8-10, 2011

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

News Brief

March 8, 2011

You’re fat…so here’s the pink slip”

An employee of an electric parts manufacturing company named “S” was threatened with the pink slip if she was not to lose weight.

According to a petition submitted to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, it was reported that employees were ordered to go on a diet and if the goal was not met they would be fired.
On March 7, 2011 after review and investigation, NHRCK has recommended the company to compensate employees, told to go on a diet, each 5,000,000 KRW (approx. 4,500 USD).


March 10, 2011

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Discrimination increase 25% in 8 years

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea reported on March 8th that within 8 years sexual abuse and sexual discrimination for women increased 25%.

Based on past records in 2006 NHRCK received 107 cases reporting sexual abuse. By 2010, that rose to over 212 cases. In the aspect of sexual discrimination there was a reported 37 cases; by 2010 it was found that there were 124 reported cases.

In an opinion released commemorating International Women’s Day by NHRCK stated that because sexual discrimination and abuse appears indirectly and amongst other discrimination, it is difficult to identify and go unreported. It was also added that although laws against sexual abuse and discrimination has firmed and stabilized, reduction in cases still has a long way to go.



First Korean Students Raise Voice for Child Rights at UN

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Bichi Lee

Two Korean students, were one of the first in the country to present the status of Rights of Child in South Korea at the United Nations(UN). Bae Byeong-u and Kim Yoon-hee, 15 year old students from South Korea, stood as presenters at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva on February 10, 2011.

It was the first time Korean students participated in such a UN conference. The two students are both seniors at Gahoe Middle School in Hapcheon County, South Gyeongsang Province (Southwest of South Korea).

In their presentation it was noted that “The reason that Children’s rights in Korea are not respected is because adults do not try to pay attention to the voices of children.”

In 1991, Korea ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a result, every five years the Korean government has submits a report on children’s issues and the state of adolescents’ rights. To provide balance, private organizations such as Save the Children submit reports as well. Thus far, no reports have been submitted and presented by the children themselves. So when Save the Children was preparing this year’s report, it decided to include cases which abused children’s right as told by children.

Save the Children is a relief organization for international children. Kim No-Bo, the president of Save the Children stated “The conference is held to evaluate Korea’s child and adolescent rights. This report is significant because it is one of the first where children are given the opportunity to present their opinion in their own voice at the conference. It is an essential part to realize the right to participate of child.”

North Korea condemns NHRCK Again

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Moonhee Kim

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) online propaganda toward South Korea, uriminzokkiri (Only between Korean Peoples), condemned the vote for the installation of the Special Committee on North Korean Human Rights by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK).

The NHRCK held their annual first plenary meeting on Jan. 10th and decided to install the Special Committee on North Korean Human Rights. It is necessary for South Korea to get ready for the rapidly changing circumstances of North Korea, such as the succession program for Kim Jung-Un, the Cheonan incident, and the Yeonpteong Island shelling. The SCNKHR will be organized with three to five people and the duration of the work will be a year, starting from this January. Thus, the duration can be extended via vote of the NHRCK. It is the third attempt by the NHRCK to organize a special committee for strengthening the capability to cope with issues related to North Korean human rights, following the year of 2005 and 2008.

Uriminzokkiri, however stated that South Korea’s move towards installing the special committee is pouring cold water to the improvement of the relationship between South and North Korea, making any confrontations between the two more intensified. Thus, the DPRK insists that bringing up North Korea’s human rights issue again only shows that South Korea is engrossed in slandering and scheming the DPRK, while they are trying to take steps to make better relationship between South and North Korea.

Research Stress Urgent Need for Resettlement Program

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Moonhee Kim

Being exhausted both physically and mentally, because of the escape from North Korea, hanging between life and death.

“The hardest part of the escape from the North is the fact that human rights as a woman are not guaranteed at all. Although we don’t want to sleep with strangers, there is no choice for us. We have to do what the others ask to achieve the goal, which is entering South Korea. When cops are patrolling, we habitually used to look for the emergency exit first. I’m still tormented by feelings of insecurity,” One of the female North Korean defectors, Ms. Jin, 27, said.

It was found in the ‘Research on The Female North Korean Defectors’ Trauma and proper ways for the Resettlement Program’, conducted by the Ministry of Unification, that most female North Korean defectors suffer from severe trauma (a very severe shock or very upsetting experience, which may cause psychological damage), caused by sexploitation and human trafficking during the process of escape from the North. Thus, it shows that an emotional treatment for these women is urgent.

Choi, Hyun-Sil, a researcher at the Center for Research on Women, Busan National University, pointed out those most female North Korean defectors are too exhausted to recuperate since the escape process takes a great toll on their physical and mental energy. Consequently, the trauma that they had to go through during the defect affects them in a very negative way when they need to control themselves rationally.

This research was held by in-depth interviews with seven female North Korean defectors. Ms. Lee, 32, who came to South Korea through Jilin, China and Cambodia, explains the fear that she went through during the process of the escape. When she escaped to Cambodia, she had to rush into a river which was filled with alligators. She said, “I thought it would be better for me to be eaten by alligators than getting caught by the cops and dying in vain.” She also added that only six people among ten who jumped into the river could come to South Korea alive.

There was testimony of distrust amongst others caused by human trafficking and sexploitation by ethnic Koreans living in China. Ms. Jin said, “I was sold at a giveaway price to get married to the Han who lived in the country side. My husband even followed me to the washroom. If I got caught trying to run away, he beat me till I was half dead.” The other female North Korean defector, Lee mentioned that she is still terrified when she meets a guy in South Korea, doubting him if he is going to use her or if he has another sexual prejudice on female North Korean defectors.

Researcher Choi analyzed that those women sincerely want to forget the bad memories of sexploitation and of having a guilty conscience of the reason why they were so vulnerable to trafficking. They also avoid talking about themselves and stories related to gender.

Therefore, according to researcher Choi, preparing for a professional program to alleviate the female North Korean defectors’ trauma is vital and urgent in South Korea. Although North Korean defectors currently receive psychological counseling at Hanawon, the government resettlement center for North Korean defectors in South Korea, the counseling is limited to a simple psychology test. And it doesn’t help alleviate the pain and trauma resulted from the process of the escape from the North.

Researcher Choi suggests that increasing the number of female police officers would be helpful for the female North Korean defectors because they get the necessary information from the local police officers when they adapt themselves in South Korea. Thus, the education to change South Korean’s perception on North Korean defectors is also raised by Choi.

Choi insists that proper education for the awareness about North Korean defectors is necessary for those starting from the young generation to those in their sixties and seventies, who are classified as the anticommunism generation. Choi explains one testimony from the female North Korean defector who had an experience with one senior in the anticommunism generation. When the senior met a female North Korean defector, the senior tried to check if she had horn on her head or not. Which became popular belief as during that generation there were many anti-communist propaganda taught in schools.


Uniformity on the bench: Supreme Court continues to be dominated by elite males

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Sangmin Lee

Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon has recommended to President Lee Myung-bak candidates for the new Supreme Court; however there is criticism that the recommendations lack diversity because all four are men whom graduated from Seoul National University (SNU) School of Law which is the nation’s top university.

“Diversity on the bench” is the golden rule in the United States of America. It is necessary to reflect various voices from all levels of society for achieving democratic justification.

After Barack Obama became president of the U.S., he appointed Sonia Sotomayor, a former judge in the Court of Appeals one of the first Hispanic and third female to take the seat. Along with Elena Kagan the former president of Harvard Law School who was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court to the United States and the fourth female. Both nominations were followed by the principle of bringing more diversity and perspective.

In comparison to the United States Supreme Court, the South Korean Supreme Court lacks diversity in terms of the composition of its members. Currently, the fourteen sitting Supreme Court justices, including the eight Constitutional Court, only Kim Ji-hyung justice comes from a University that is not SNU; he’s from the Wonkwang University of Law. Taking a closer look at the origin, twelve of the fourteen justices are career judges, and one is a former prosecutor and the other a former law professor. Justice Chon Soo-an is now the only female judge on the court after the other woman on the court, Justice Kim Young-ran, retired last August. Kim was appointed as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court in 2004, reflecting the demands of diversity on the bench. These patterns are most prevalent in states’ highest courts.

A lawyer stated “Most of the Supreme Court justices are men aged between the late 50’s and early 60’s that spent most of their lives reading lawsuits and judged in the courtroom. Accordingly, under the influence of similar backgrounds and experiences, the decision of the court also has been almost identical.

The Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU) announced a statement about the recommendation of Supreme Court’s candidates. “It is a matter of sincere regret that none of women candidates were nominated. In order to solve an imbalance between men and women, nominating commissioners should recommend at least 50% of women candidates and the president also gives the priority to the women in appointing justice at both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.”

The Human Rights Solidarity for New Society announced a statement of censuring the recommendation of four candidates and requiring entire reformation of the process of nomination.

The causes for this lack of diversity vary. First, nominating commissioners may underestimate, consciously or unconsciously, the ability of women candidates. Korea was traditionally patriarchal society. It has been dramatically changed in many respects, with the increase of the entry of women in public affairs compared with the past. But the formidable barriers in a famously conservative sector of public services still exist.

Second, it is closely related to typical Korean culture, “elitism”. Korea society is a slave to the ‘first place’ in most areas. It leads to pursuing an elite education system. The Korean proverb “The end justifies the means” shows one of the aspects of Korean society. The rules of seniority are also largely respected underlying the society in selecting and promoting adequate candidates.

There was a voice that this year can be the “most opportune for varying the composition of the members of the court with different backgrounds in the highest judicial authority” in situations which five Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice and 3 justices in the Constitutional Court’s term is nearing expiration. However, Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon’s decision to recommend four new judges is going against the current of the times.

When those courts don’t consider the demands of the diversity on the bench, they can hardly obtain the credibility from the people.

Courtesy of Joongang Ilbo