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First Korean students present at the UN Committee on the Right of Child Conference

April 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Bichi Lee

Two 15-year-old Korean students, Bae Byeong-u and Kim Yoon-hee , stood as presenters at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Conference, being held to evaluate the status of Korea’s child and adolescent rights, in Geneva on February  10, 2011.

It was the first time Korean students, both sixth graders at Gahoe Middle School located in Hapcheon County South Gyeongsang province,  participated in such a conference.

In their presentation the two students presented, “the reason that children’s rights in Korea aren’t respected is adults don’t try to pay attention to what children say.”

In 1991, Korea ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Every five years thereafter, the Korean government has submitted reports on children’s issues and the state of adolescents’ rights.  Private organizations such as Save the Children have also submitted reports, but none of the reports was ever submitted by children themselves.  When Save the Children was preparing this year’s report, it decided to include cases in which abused children’s right was told by children themselves.

Save the Children is a relief organization for international children.

Kim No-Bo, the president of Save the Children stated that, “the conference is held to evaluate Korea’s child and adolescent rights. With the direct presentation by the children this presentation carries a significant meaning as it gives an opportunity to voice their opinions.

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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

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.”

News Brief January 21-24, 2011

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

News Briefs                                                                                                                                                   January 21, 2011

Pastor Gets 9 Years for Multiple Child Rape 

65 year old pastor Kang was sentenced to 9 years for raping an 11 year old girl and sexually molesting three other under-aged members of his congregation. Kang was also accused of taking sexual pictures of the victims and beating and threatening them. The court ruling stated that, “the defendant assaulted five teenagers by coercing them with his religious authority… He left serious, untreatable scars on the young victims.”

Labor Activists Continue Sit-ins through Subzero Temperatures 

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) is protesting against Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) in an attempt to force HHIC to end layoffs. Kim Jin-suk, a member of the direction committee of KCTU’s Busan office, is sitting-in a 35-meter high vessel crane at HHIC’s Yeongdo shipyard in subzero temperatures. HHIC received a court ruling to remove Kim from the site; however, Kim refused to end the protest. Friday marked Kim’s 15th sit-in day.

Government to Provide IT Training for Multicultural Families 

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the National Information Society Agency plans to provide IT training for 2,300 marriage migrants and 330 multicultural families. This new program is designed to aid migrants and multicultural families in adjusting to life in Korea by giving them the tools and opportunities needed.

NHRCK Calls for Human Rights in North Korea 

Korea’s National Human Rights Commission wishes to introduce legislation on North Korean human rights and enact an independent archive to investigate, collect, and record human rights violations in North Korea. A bill on situating and contextualizing human rights in North Korea remains pending in the National Assembly; however, human rights activists insist the bill is far too moderate to insight any actual changes in North Korea.

January 22, 2011

Government Rejects NHRCK’s Labor Recommendations 

The Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) recently rejected the National Human Rights Commission of Korea’s (NHRCK) recommendation to reduce excessive governmental interference in labor union establishment procedures and the criteria on valid union members. In rejecting NHRCK’s recommendations, the government plans to continue to only permitting labor union activities within a stringent and restrictive framework. President Lee’s administration has also been accused of abusing current labor unions in using the system to suppress unions the administration does not agree with. The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in line with NHRCK’s recommendations; however, the MoEL remains adherent to its intolerant approach.

Former ‘Comfort Woman’s’ Last Wish 

Lee Ok-sun, 84, was 15 when she was kidnapped by the Japanese military and drafted to become a sex slave during Japan’s invasion of the Korean peninsula. IN 1996, Lee decided to publicize her experiences and began traveling the world, giving lectures on the sufferings of the ‘comfort women.’ Now, like most other former ‘comfort women,’ Lee is ailing; her heart and kidneys are failing, and her vision and hearing are impaired from the beatings she endured during her time as a ‘comfort woman.’ Lee’s last wish before she dies is to receive an apology from Japan to her and all other surviving former ‘comfort women.’

January 23, 2011

Lonely ‘Mart Kids’ Deprived of Proper Care 

Children playing in supermarkets during winter vacation were found to be lacking in proper parental care. Children staying at supermarkets from morning to late evening tended to avoid social contact and experts report that such children are shown little affection or care at home. Supermarket employees worry over the children’s safety as there are no adults with the children; employees also fear that the children may be more vulnerable to crime as they remain unprotected throughout the day and evenings.

North Korean Defector Turned Freedom Fighter through Art 

Song Byeok, 42, defected in 2002 and now uses his artwork to depict difficulties of life in North Korea. Song stated that he was now free of the ‘brainwashing’ he experienced in North Korea. “For a long time, I honestly believed Kim was a great leader and that my country was better off than others,” Song said. Song’s art often caricaturizes North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and his regime; Song stated that he now wants “to devote [his] art to letting the world know that everyone, including North Koreans, deserves to be free.”

January 24, 2011

Budget Cuts for Seoul’s Cultural Programs 

The Seoul Metropolitan Government stated that foreigners wishing to participate in Seoul’s cultural programs will have to wait as Seoul’s cultural programs receive budget cuts. The programs will be available for 1,740 foreigners through 30 events this year, down from 2,591 available slots for 37 events last year. This year, the government will combine several programs together in order to accommodate budget cuts.

Ministry of Employment and Labor Rejects Recommendation from NHRCK 

The Ministry of Employment and Labor has recently released a statement rejecting the recommendation submitted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) to include the unemployed and recently laid off employees in the National Labor Union and Relations Law. The Ministry replied stating that including this group the law would lose its exclusiveness in protecting those working.

Gwangju to Build Democratic and Peace Human Rights Center on Former Prison Site 

On the 21st of January, over 100 members of various civic organizations met in Gwangju, city in Southwest of Seoul, to present the “Human Rights City Gwangju Proposal”. The proposal states the various programs it plans to carry out to make Gwangju the main hub representing Human Rights in South Korea. As the first steps it was proposed to build a Democratic and Peace Human Rights Center on a former prison site in Gwangju.

NHRCK Propose Letter Exchange Program Between Separated Families  

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) released a statement on the 21st that they plan to promote a letter exchange program between separated families in South and North Korea. It was indicated that the letter exchange program goes along the lines of their “Roadmap for the Improvement of North Korean Human Rights” released earlier this year.

Teen Single Mothers Being Turned Down By Schools

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Sun Jul 18, 2010

by Ji-Su Park

In April 2009, Kim, an 18-year-old single mother, was forced to drop out of her high school when some teachers found out about her pregnancy. Following this, Kim’s mother filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) claiming that her daughter’s right to education was violated by the school. NHRCK declared that Kim’s school was violating the NHRCK policy article 2 clause 4 “The use of educational facilities for the purpose of pregnancy and birth”  Although at first the school maintained that Kim’s expulsion was necessary to protect other students from a “bad influence,” they later followed the NHRCK’s recommendation and let Kim recommence her studies.

Today, 5,000 to 6,000 Korean teenage girls become single mothers like Kim, but not all of them can go back to school. On March 16 of this year, the NHRCK held an open discussion at the National Assembly regarding the right to education for unwed teenage mothers. According to NHRCK’s surveys from 2007 and 2008, 74% of teachers believe that a pregnant student would have a bad influence on other students at school, while 81% of teen single mothers want to continue studying.

During the discussion, Han Sang-soon, director of Aeranwon, a Christian organization for unwed mothers, said that teen single mothers need decent jobs to support themselves and their children. In order to get good jobs, teenage single mothers must continue studying at their schools. They maintain the importance of education for a more comfortable future.

Some schools however, are reluctant to let pregnant teenage girls continue studying. They argue that pregnant teen students corrupt the morality of the students around them and as a result many pregnant girls must consider abortion in order to stay in school. The male fathers however, are allowed to continue studying, issuing a question of gender equality.

HOW KOREAN GOVERNMENT IS HANDLING THE SITUATION TODAY

–         Because of low fertility rate, the government is currently very anti-abortion (pro-choice) today. The problem is that the government does not really have social infrastructures to help single mothers at all. (Abortion is illegal, but there are exceptions according to 모자보건법 – in case of rape, hereditary diseases, etc.).

–         For the first time ever, the government decided to financially help the unmarried single mothers as a part of 위기가정 지원책 last year.

OTHER ADVANCED NATIONS’ EXAMPLES (U.S., United Kingdom, France, etc.?)

WHAT KOREAN SOCIETY (GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOLS) NEED TO DO

–         More health care service and medical help for unmarried single mothers

–         More financial support for unmarried single mothers

–         Establish more social infrastructures before promoting anti-abortion policies

–         Need more policies to control the “unmarried fathers” rather than “unmarried mothers”

–         More counseling service for teen single mothers

–         Sex education