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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.

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Categories: Children, Disability, Labour

Is there a future for people with disabilities to work?

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Sun 11 July 2010

By Mirae Kang

The Act on Employment Promotion and Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Persons was passed on June 4, to promote employment for the disabled. Through this new law, the government sponsors employment agencies with job placement programs and education. The law also establishes that companies with over 50 employees are required to hire a certain number of disabled people.

But a recent report provided by the Ministry of Employment and Labor shows that the job market for the disabled still remains bleak. The Ministry stated that, “despite increasing social awareness last year during an economically difficult time, a low figure of 1.87 percent of people with disabilities were hired compared to the total population of people with disabilities being 4.86 percent within the country.”

Under the new law, 3 percent of the government workforce and 2.3 percent of any other institution must hire people with disabilities. Failing to meet these requirements may subject companies to a penalty fine. Despite these laws and regulations, statistics show that only public institutions have complied with the legal requirement to staff 2.1 percent of employees with disabilities. Also, about 30 conglomerates in Korea still choose to pay fines instead of hiring people with disabilities.

Prior to this act, several domestic laws to improve life and prohibit acts of discrimination on people with disabilities have been implemented, these include: The Welfare of Disabled Persons Act, Act on Convenience Promotion for Persons with Disabilities, Act on Mobility Promotion for Persons with Disabilities, Anti-Discrimination against and Remedies for Persons with Disabilities, and several more.

The plethora of acts has increased social awareness but despite being a country which has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2008, the issue of equal treatment and opportunities since remains a topic often dealt with by the media.

——

Korea Human Rights Foundation HRM writer Myung Jin Lee contributed to this report.

Categories: Disability, Labour, Rule of Law

14% of the Elderly Abused at Home

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Tues Jun 22

Hyun Kyu Kim

Recent research has shown that in Korea one out of seven elders is abused at home while the benefits for them are shrinking rapidly. According to research from the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs, 14% of the elderly were domestically abuse either verbally or physically.

The most common form of abuse documented was verbal, taking up two thirds of documented abuse while abandonment was second with 22%. The children were the most commonly responsible for the abuse, with 50% while spouses and the spouse of the children took around a quarter each. Although more than 40% of the abusers had only elementary education, college graduates also contributed to 14% of the abuse. Women were the victims 75% of the time, while people in the rural zones were more likely to abuse than their urban counterparts.

The first steps for a solution came at 2005, when the first call center for elderly abuse was established. Over a thousand calls poured in every month in which 60% of the calls sought refuge from physical and verbal abuse, while another 20% were from abandoned senior citizens.

An alarming 600 calls sought help from domestic sexual abuse while further studies showed that not only children, but also grandchildren and spouses of children were the main instigators of abuse.

According to Cookie News, the number of calls increased to 1,567 per month in 2006, 2,291 per month in 2007, and a staggering 2,760 in 2008. ■

Categories: Disability

No Voting Rights for People with Disabilities?

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Tues Jun 22

Hyun Kyu Kim

From the basic right to information on candidates to actually attempting to vote in the recent Regional Elections (2 June 2010), people with disabilities have been denied the exercise of their rights. The Korean government, which adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, is legally obligated to protect the voting rights of the disabled as mandated in article 29 of the convention. However, the requirements to ensure the equal voting rights of the disabled have faced a few issues in the recent regional elections.

The first issue is the right to learn about the candidates. According to Mr. Oh Gwang-Ho from the Korea Association for the Deaf, “On the websites of candidates, there was no information whatsoever on any place for the deaf who only know sign language.” He continued, “A little recognition for people with disabilities would bring out the voters in droves, but I feel sad about the current situation which stops the voters.”

At least three TV political ads were broadcast without adequate sign language translation. The TV broadcast for the Gyeonggi Province Debate was also shown with no sign language because it was considered to “take up too much space.”

Another problem is in regard to election materials created by candidates and distributed by the National Election Commission. These election materials serve as the backbone of information on the basis of which people vote since at least one packet is distributed to every household.

Yonhap News reported that 16% of the candidates for regional elections made no materials for the visually impaired. Less than 50% of the Candidate’s texts were put into Braille and of that amount only the material regarding the candidate’s policies for people with disabilities was in Braille. Among the many candidates, only three were shown to have made brochures that translated all of their pledges into Braille.

The problem was exacerbated further when the National Election Commission changed laws to restrict Braille editions to the same amount of pages as written print editions. Generally, Braille needs about three times more space than text. Due to these space limits, information had to be cut out. Furthermore, under the current laws, candidates have to go to each district to find a list of the visually impaired with each district having different laws over releasing such information.

Another issue is in getting to the voting polls. Instructions to get to the voting booths were in plain text without support in Braille. To counter this problem, the South Korean Government initiated “Disabilities Call-Taxi Service.” However, Medical Today reported that the average waiting time for the taxis in Seoul was between 2 to 5 hours.

To address these problems, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea has started a monitoring project to maintain the compliance of article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A reported 113 personnel will monitor polling places across the nation on election days to check whether the voting rights of the disabled are adequately taken into consideration. ■

Categories: Disability