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Department Seal


DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994

                        REPUBLIC OF KOREA

The Republic of Korea is governed by a directly elected 
President and a unicameral National Assembly that is selected 
by both direct and proportional election.  In February, Kim 
Young Sam of the Democratic Liberal Party was inaugurated as 
the country's first chief executive who is not an ex-general in 
nearly three decades.  In his first year in office, President 
Kim, a former opposition leader, implemented sweeping political 
and economic reforms, including an anticorruption drive, which 
signified a fundamental policy break from the previous 
administration, and resulted in an end to the political careers 
of a number of key officials from that administration.

Responsibility for maintaining internal security lies with the 
National Security Planning Agency (NSP), the police, and the 
Defense Security Command (DSC).  The Government made personnel 
and organizational changes in the powerful NSP and other 
security services for the announced purpose of curtailing the 
security services' involvement in domestic politics, stopping 
surveillance of civilians, preventing human rights abuses, and 
increasing efforts to collect foreign intelligence.  The 
National Assembly reformed the law regulating the NSP and 
passed an antiwiretapping law to curb Government monitoring of 
communications.  The Government also took a number of steps to 
institutionalize further, and guarantee, civilian control of 
the military, including replacing the Defense Security Chief 
and choosing a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 
outside of the small circle of military elite which had 
dominated the services under previous regimes.  North Korea's 
temporary withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, 
suspicions about its nuclear program, and the lack of progress 
in talks between North and South Korea heightened concerns 
about the threat posed by North Korea.  Also, the long-standing 
conventional military threat posed by North Korea's arms 
buildup and the offensive deployment of its troops and weaponry 
remained a cause of concern.
The ROK has become a major industrial power and world class 
exporter.  An industrious and literate populace drives economic 
growth despite a lack of natural resources, especially oil.  
After several years of strong growth, the economy has slowed 
down.  The gross national product as well as the Consumer Price 
Index increased by approximately 4.8 percent in 1993.  
Continued high levels of rural migration to the cities, 
shortages of skilled labor, unbalanced regional development, an 
inefficient agricultural sector, and inadequate infrastructure 
remain problems. 

In 1993 the overall human rights situation improved 
significantly, a result of the fundamental shift in attitude 
and policy of the Kim Young Sam administration.  President Kim 
achieved two democratic, institutional reforms of an historic 
nature:  the abolition of false-name bank accounts and the 
enactment of a government ethics law.  The requirement that 
bank accounts be registered in the real names of depositors has 
forced a large, hidden source of funds for political corruption 
into the open and thereby improved the transparency of 
government and politics.  The ethics law requires officials for 
the first time to disclose their financial assets.  
Resignations and a reshuffle of judges, prosecutors, and police 
strengthened judicial independence and heightened sensitivity 
to individual rights within both the executive and judicial 
branches.  Nonetheless, the Government, insisting that the 
National Security Law (NSL) is designed to thwart subversion by 
pro-North Korean forces, continued to use it to violate the 
freedoms of expression, association, and travel.  The 
Government invoked the NSL less, however, and NSL arrests 
declined by over half.  Although basic labor laws, which fall 
short of international standards, were not reformed, the 
Government, in a fundamental shift, assumed a much more neutral 
stance between labor and management during labor disputes.

The Government also decreed several amnesties that released, 
reduced the prison sentences of, or erased the criminal records 
of, hundreds of persons arrested for politically motivated 
acts.  Police treatment of, and access to legal counsel for, 
suspects improved, although sleep deprivation continues to be 
used during questioning.  Despite marginal progress, women 
continued to suffer from discrimination and violence.  
Nonetheless, the administration's reforms overall had a 
liberalizing effect on the society.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reported cases of political or extrajudicial 
killings.  In June, however, a riot policeman died shortly 
after being beaten by students during a street demonstration 
(see Section 2.b.).

     b.  Disappearance

There were no accusations of disappearances during 1993.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

President Kim directed authorities to protect the human rights 
of suspects.  For the first time in several years, allegations 
of abuse by authorities of those in custody for questioning 
declined.  Nonetheless, authorities continued to place much 
emphasis on extracting confessions from suspects.  Although it 
is government policy not to torture or mistreat suspects, 
police use of sleep deprivation during questioning is 
widespread.  In both political and nonpolitical cases, police 
routinely question suspects through the night and early 
morning.  There were also unsubstantiated reports of verbal 
abuse during questioning.

In a nonpolitical case, a judge ruled for the first time that 
prosecutors abused and beat a person during questioning in 
1989.  The judge ordered that the Government pay the plaintiff, 
a taxi driver, nearly $100,000 in compensation.  

In two political cases from the mid-1980s, the courts found 
policemen guilty of committing and covering up acts of 
torture.  In March the Seoul high court reaffirmed a lower 
court's ruling that gave three former national police officials
--a vice director and two officials of the anti-Communist 
division--suspended prison sentences for attempting to cover up 
the 1987 death of university student Park Chong Chol, who died 
in police custody after being tortured during questioning about 
alleged antigovernment activities.  A police lieutenant's 
testimony about the coverup was the main evidence which helped 
convict the three officers.  In August a Seoul District 
Criminal Court judge ordered the rearrest of four former 
policemen for the 1985 torture of prominent dissident Kim Keun 
Tae and sentenced them to from 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison.  
Despite progress, however, it remained relatively rare for 
officials accused of abuse or harassment of suspects to be 

Conditions in Korean prisons remained Spartan, although a 
dissident released from prison in 1993 stated that conditions, 
including nutrition and access to reading materials, have 
improved significantly in recent years.

Prisoners regularly exercised outdoors, and prison authorities 
provided vocational training.  The most frequent complaint was 
that cells were not heated during the winter or cooled during 
the summer.

Although the authorities generally put prisoners convicted of 
politically motivated acts in cells by themselves, they had 
frequent contact with other inmates, and conditions were 
otherwise similar to those for other prisoners.  After arrest 
and questioning, prisoners of all types had access to family 
members, relatives and others, unless prison authorities deemed 
it "inappropriate" for rehabilitation, which was rare.  A few 
months after the new administration took office, the Justice 
Ministry liberalized regulations to permit greater access to 

There is little independent monitoring of prison conditions, 
although human rights monitors can see certain prisoners if 
approved by the prison warden.  Most accusations of 
mistreatment involved persons being questioned by the 
authorities after their arrest and before indictment, rather 
than those who were already convicted and serving their 
sentences in jail.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

In general, Korean law is vague with respect to detentions and 
prosecutors have wide latitude to interpret the law.  The NSL 
defines espionage in broad terms and permits the authorities to 
detain and arrest persons who commit acts viewed as supportive 
of North Korea and therefore dangerous to the Republic of 
Korea.  Authorities arrested not only persons spying on behalf 
of North Korea but also those who exercised their freedom of 
speech to call for the downfall of the Government or to praise 
North Korea, its leader Kim Il Sung, or Kim Il Sung's 
"self-reliance" ("juche") political philosophy.

Article 7 of the NSL permits the imprisonment for up to 7 years 
of persons who "with the knowledge that he might endanger the 
existence or security of the State or the basic order of free 
democracy, praised or encouraged or propagandized for, or sided 
with the activities of an antistate organization."  North Korea 
has been defined as an "antistate organization."  Other 
restrictive laws still in effect are the Law on Assembly and 
Demonstration, the Social Surveillance Law (SSL), labor laws, 
and election laws.

The Government rationale for the NSL continued to be that the 
Korean peninsula is a special case because the 1950-53 Korean 
war ended with the signing of an armistice, not a peace treaty, 
and because Cold War tensions remain on the peninsula.  North 
Korea remains a formidable military threat.

In light of heightened concern about the North Korean threat, 
the opposition Democratic Party dropped its demand for 
immediate reform of the NSL in 1993, but it still called for 
reform of the law regulating the NSP and passage of an 
antiwiretapping bill.  In December the ruling and opposition 
parties approved the two bills in a National Assembly vote.  
The new NSP law restricts the agency from interfering in 
domestic politics; limits the Agency's authority to cases 
involving terrorism, espionage, and international crime 
organizations.  The law also provides for prison sentences for 
NSP employees who violate the law, guarantees that detainees 
have access to legal counsel during an NSP investigation, and 
mandates the creation of a National Assembly Committee to 
oversee the agency.  The antiwiretapping bill lays out broad 
conditions under which the monitoring of telephone calls, mail, 
and other forms of communication are legal; requires government 
officials to secure a judge's permission before placing 
wiretaps or, in the event of an emergency, after the fact; and 
provides for jail terms for those who violate this law.

The South Korean Justice Ministry stated that arrests for 
politically motivated acts declined because the number of 
antigovernment protests, including acts of violence, dropped 

The Kim Administration issued several general amnesties, which 
included prisoners convicted of politically motivated acts; the 
amnesties cut by more than half the number of people in jail 
for politically motivated acts, including espionage and 
violence, from approximately 675 to under 300.  In March, 
shortly after his inauguration, President Kim declared a 
wide-scale presidential amnesty which pardoned, paroled, 
restored the civil rights of, or commuted or reduced the 
sentences of about 5,800 persons charged under security-related 
laws.  The presidential decree gave amnesty to 144 
security-related prisoners, including prominent dissident Rev. 
Moon Ik Hwan, who in 1989 had traveled to North Korea without 
permission from the South Korean Government, and seven other 
political prisoners.  Six long-term, elderly prisoners 
convicted of espionage were also released.  In May, in 
celebration of Buddha's birthday, the Government released about 
80 convicts in jail for politically related acts, including 
student activist Im Chong Suk, who in 1989 helped fellow 
student Im Su Kyong go to Pyongyang.  In a Christmas amnesty, 
the ROK released on parole 44 prisoners convicted of 
politically motivated acts, including 20 unionists as well as 
Choi Il Bung, who was arrested in 1992 for publishing antistate 

The Government also did not interfere in peaceful events 
sponsored by a South Korean dissident coalition led by Rev. 
Moon Ik Hwan to commemorate Korean Liberation Day.  It is 
noteworthy that these events were carried out on behalf of an 
organization the Government considered antistate, the 
"Pan-National Committee for Reunification" ("Pomminnyon").

In an appeals case concerning the sale of pro-North Korean 
materials, the Supreme Court reaffirmed past rulings that it is 
legal under the NSL to possess antistate publications for 
purely academic use, profit, or curiosity, but not with the 
intent of aiding North Korea.

Arrests and prosecutions under the NSL continued, but their 
numbers declined significantly.  NSL arrests numbered around 
80, compared with 305 arrests in 1992.  Korean human rights 
groups estimated that warrants remained for the arrest of about 
300 people for violating the NSL or committing other 
politically motivated acts.  The authorities publicly promised 
to be lenient to the maximum extent possible under the law if 
such persons turned themselves in.  

Lower courts rejected the prosecution's death penalty requests 
for several suspects charged as leaders in what the Government 
announced in 1992 was a major North Korean spy ring.  The 
courts instead sentenced them to life in prison or less.  The 
most prominent spy suspect, unification and labor activist Kim 
Nack Joong, was sentenced to life in prison and fined nearly $1 
million.  Another suspect, long-time activist Kwon Tu Yong, 
committed suicide after learning that prosecutors would ask for 
the death penalty.  The courts sentenced deputy spokesman for 
the opposition Democratic Party Kim Bu Kyom to 1 year in prison 
and a 1-year suspension of civil liberties, with a 2-year stay 
of execution, for his involvement in the spy case.  National 
Assembly Defense Committee staffer Lee Kun Hee of the 
opposition Democratic Party received a 3-year prison sentence 
and a 3-year suspension of civil liberties.

In February, before President Kim's inauguration, a lower court 
sentenced Tae Jae Jun, chairman of Korea's General Student 
Association, to a 4-year prison term under the NSL and the Law 
on Assembly and Demonstrations.  Charges included waving the 
North Korean flag, which the authorities considered an 
antistate act.  The NSP arrested Hwang Sok Young, a South 
Korean novelist and ex-spokesman for "Pomminnyon" overseas, 
when he returned to Korea after 4 years in self-exile.  Among 
the charges against Hwang are his activities for "Pomminnyon" 
and visits to North Korea.  The authorities also indicted Noh 
Tae Hun, an ex-official of the Korean human rights group 
"Mingahyop," for possession of an antistate newsletter 
published by former long-term prisoners convicted of espionage.

The authorities continued to arrest and indict under the NSL 
members of the Socialist Workers Alliance ("Sanomaeng"), which 
the Government considered a pro-North Korea organization and 
therefore antistate.  Nonetheless, Sanomaeng arrests declined 
to about 10, compared with over 65 arrests in 1992.  Courts 
also gave lighter sentences to NSL violators.  When prosecutors 
appealed a lower court's sentence of life in prison for 
Sanomaeng leader Paek Tae Woong and requested the death 
penalty, the Supreme Court instead reduced the sentence to 15 
years in prison.  The NSP arrested university instructor Cho 
Guk in June partly for publishing antistate materials, but the 
court gave him a suspended sentence in December.

Warrants issued by judges are required by law in cases of 
arrest, detention, seizure, or search.  The law does not 
require the authorities to seek warrants if the person is 
apprehended while committing a criminal act or if a judge is 
not available and the authorities think that the suspect may 
destroy evidence or escape capture if not quickly arrested.  In 
such emergency cases, judges must issue arrest warrants within 
48 hours after apprehension, or, if a court is not located in 
the same county, 72 hours.  Police can detain suspects who 
voluntarily come in for questioning for up to 6 hours but must 
notify the suspects' families.

Upon issuance of an arrest warrant, the security services can 
hold suspects during the investigation phase for up to 30 days 
before an indictment is made.  Article 19 of the NSL gives 
judges the power to approve requests to extend the detention 
period an additional 20 days, making detention legal for up to 
50 days.  The Constitutional Court, however, ruled that while 
the authorities can extend detention beyond the legal limit of 
30 days for those suspected of "serious" violations such as 
spying or organizing an antistate group, they cannot do so in 
cases where the suspects are charged only with praising North 
Korea or failing to report NSL violations.

The Constitution specifically provides the right to 
representation by an attorney.  However, prosecutors prohibit 
attorneys from accompanying their clients during any stage of 
interrogation.  There are often no facilities for private 
meetings between suspects and their attorneys.  In late April, 
the Presidential spokesman quoted President Kim as directing 
his aides to protect the human rights of suspects and guarantee 
access to legal counsel.  Suspects' access to legal counsel 
during the investigation phase improved noticeably during the 
year.  In October the Government began to permit suspects 
during the investigation phase to consult with "duty lawyers," 
a new system set up by a nongovernmental association of 

There is a functioning system of bail.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides defendants a number of rights in 
criminal trials, including presumption of innocence, protection 
against self-incrimination, freedom from retroactive laws and 
double jeopardy, the right to a speedy trial, and the right of 
appeal.  When a person is physically detained, his initial 
trial must be completed within 6 months of arrest.  These 
rights are generally observed.  Trials are open to the public, 
but the judge may restrict attendance if he believes the 
spectators may seek to disrupt the proceedings.

The President, with the consent of the National Assembly, 
appoints the Chief Justice and the other justices of the 
Supreme Court for a term of 6 years.  Lower court justices are 
appointed by the Chief Justice with the consent of the other 
justices.  The President also appoints the justices of the 
Constitutional Court.

Judges generally allowed considerable scope for examination of 
witnesses by both the prosecution and defense.  Political and 
criminal cases are tried by the same courts; military courts do 
not try civilians.  Although convictions are rarely overturned, 
appeals often result in reduced sentences.  Death sentences are 
automatically appealed.  In recent years the judiciary has 
shown increasing independence, and that trend accelerated in 
1993.  In a statement released to the public in late June, 
junior judges from the Seoul civil court criticized past 
political intervention in judicial decisions and called for 
reform of the judicial personnel system.

The Government mandated disclosure of financial and real estate 
assets by government officials, first in March, and then in 
June, the latter of which led to the resignation of many 
judicial officials, including the Supreme Court Chief Justice, 
Prosecutor General, and national police chief in September.  In 
a personnel reshuffle, judicial officials generally considered 
committed to the independence and integrity of the judiciary 
were appointed, including Chief Justice Yoon Kwan, who promised 
further reforms.  In a series of cases, the courts continued to 
rule against the Government by awarding compensation to 
suspects abused by the authorities, punishing those responsible 
for such mistreatment, and issuing lighter sentences for 
politically motivated crimes.  

The Constitutional Court, which began operation in 1988, 
continued to grow in its role of interpreting the 
Constitution.  For example, it has upheld the confidentiality 
of attorney-client discussions, ruling unconstitutional 
government tape recording of such talks.

It is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners, 
i.e., those jailed for exercising their political rights 
unaccompanied by violence, because it is not clear whether 
particular persons were arrested for merely exercising the 
right of free association or were detained for committing or 
planning acts of violence or espionage.  At year's end, Korean 
human rights groups claimed that political prisoners, i.e., any 
person arrested for politically motivated acts in opposition to 
the Government, including espionage and violence, numbered less 
than 300.  It appeared that the number of political prisoners 
and detainees as defined by international human rights 
standards numbered well under 100.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

In general the Government honors the integrity of the home and 
family.  In the past, the security services conducted varying 
degrees of surveillance, including wiretaps, of political 
dissidents.  In January released student activist Im Su Kyong 
charged that her home was under surveillance by the NSP.  The 
Government stated, however, that one of its aims in reforming 
the security services such as the NSP was to protect human 
rights.  The new antiwiretapping law and reformed NSP law, 
passed by the National Assembly in December, were designed to 
curb government surveillance of civilians.

The Government and the courts have taken a few tentative steps 
to limit encroachments on the individual's right to privacy and 
to make public government documents.  For the first time, 
President Kim ordered government agencies to assist the 
opposition Democratic Party in releasing information about the 
1973 kidnaping of prominent opposition leader Kim Dae Jung.  To 
make government functioning more open to the public, the 
Foreign Ministry began to implement new regulations to 
declassify and publicly release government documents.

Government informants are known to be posted on and around 
university campuses.  In May a student told reporters that 
police paid him to supply information about student activists.  
Persons thought to have backgrounds as political or labor 
activists are still denied some forms of employment and 
advancement, particularly in the fields of government, 
broadcast media, and education.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Almost all political discourse is unrestricted.  Limits 
remained under the NSL on the expression of ideas that the 
Government considered Communist or pro-North Korean.  

Direct control over the print media virtually has disappeared.  
Nonetheless, the Government's indirect influence on the media 
remained considerable.  Many journalists and editors practiced 
some degree of self-censorship to advance their careers.  Many 
former journalists become public officials.  Due to President 
Kim's anticorruption campaign, government payments of money to 
reporters, known as "chongji," have been curtailed but not 
halted completely.

In June Defense Minister Kwon Young Hae lodged a libel suit 
against the Joong-Ang Ilbo newspaper for a story that the 
Government had banned him and 21 other current and former 
defense officials from leaving the country due to their 
suspected involvement in corruption in the purchase of certain 
military weapons systems.  The Government stated that the story 
was false, and the newspaper dropped the story from later 
editions and published a retraction the next day.  In response 
to the libel suit, prosecutors arrested the reporter who wrote 
the article and also questioned the daily's president-
publisher, editor in chief, and managing and city editors.  
After Joong-Ang Ilbo officials met with the Defense and 
Information Ministers to apologize personally, Defense Minister 
Kwon dropped the suit and authorities released the reporter.

Prosecutors continued to indict, albeit less frequently than in 
the past, some dissidents for producing, selling, or 
distributing pro-North Korean or pro-Communist materials.  A 
former human rights activist, Noh Tae Hun, was indicted under 
the NSL for having copies of a newsletter published by former, 
elderly prisoners who had served sentences for spying on behalf 
of North Korea.  In November the authorities investigated a 
private group for using an electronic bulletin board service to 
post antistate messages advocating a Socialist revolution and 
supporting the "Socialist Workers Alliance" group.

Among the charges against student activist Chun Tae Jae was his 
involvement in protests in which students waved the North 
Korean flag.  The authorities did not block student activists 
from holding a 2-hour telephone conference in May with North 
Korean students, but they did issue warrants for their arrest 
under the NSL.  Listening to North Korean radio is illegal if 
the authorities judge it is for the purpose of helping North 
Korea or an antistate organization.  In March the Supreme Court 
reaffirmed that it was legal under the NSL to possess 
publications "benefiting the enemy" for purely academic use, 
profit, or curiosity, but not with the intent of aiding "the 
enemy."  The ruling came in the case of Kim Hyong Kun, who was 
indicted under the NSL for selling pro-North Korean books.

The Government continued to allow, within its guidelines, an 
increase in media coverage of North Korea.  Television networks 
presented edited versions of North Korean television programs 
on a weekly basis.  The media extensively reported on U.S. and 
South Korean talks with North Korean officials, sending 
reporters to cover U.S.-North Korean talks in New York and 
Geneva.  In February, however, the state broadcasting company 
KBS decided not to broadcast an interview with former student 
activist Im Su Kyong, who was jailed for visiting Pyongyang in 
1989 without the approval of the South Korean Government and 
was amnestied in 1992.  KBS reportedly decided that, if 
broadcast, the interview would encourage others to travel to 
North Korea without government permission.

The Government also allowed somewhat wider public access to 
selected North Korean publications.  The December 1991 landmark 
agreements between South and North Korea included 
provisions--long advocated by South Korea--for exchanges and 
cooperation in publishing, journalism, radio, and television.  
Nonetheless, North Korea's lack of progress in clearing up the 
nuclear issue has stymied implementation of the North-South 
Korean agreements.

There is a continued threat to academic freedom from leftist 
students who intimidate professors whose lectures or writings 
contradict the students' ideology.  In September, 10 students 
were seriously injured when student activists attempted to 
storm the office of the Kyonggi University president to demand 
his resignation, but instead they clashed with members of the 
school's judo club and threw firebombs and rocks.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Law on Assembly and Demonstrations prohibits assemblies 
considered likely to undermine public order it forbids outside 
interference in peaceful assemblies approved by the 
authorities.  The law requires that the police be notified in 
advance of demonstrations of all types, including political 
rallies.  Police must notify organizers if they consider the 
event not permissible under this law.  Although the Government 
did not amend the law, in practice it applied it with 
restraint, permitting practically all assemblies and 
demonstrations to be held.  Dissidents reported that in 
contrast to previous practice the Government this year approved 
most applications to hold public assemblies and protests.  
Police adopted a low-key approach to peaceful protests held 
without police approval.  Police either allowed the 
demonstration to continue or transported protesters to the 
outskirts of the city and left them there to find their way 
back to the city.  In general, police showed restraint and 
discipline in the face of severe provocation during violent 
demonstrations.  In June students beat severely a riot 
policeman, who was pronounced dead an hour later.

For the first time, the authorities permitted dissident and 
independent unionists to hold a May Day march through the 
city.  In another first, the Government cooperated with the 
citizens of the southwestern city of Kwangju in peacefully 
commemorating the May 1980 uprising there.  Up to 35,000 people 
attended the ceremony, much of which was antigovernment in 
content.  The Government supported the "South-North Human Chain 
for Peace and Reunification" organized by the dissident 
National Council of Churches in Korea (KNCC) to commemorate 
Korea's Liberation Day.  The Government also did not block 
peaceful Liberation Day rallies held by a dissident coalition 
representing "Pomminnyon."

Demonstrations by university students declined again in 1993, 
and student use of firebombs practically ceased.  The most 
violent occurred in Kwangju, particularly at the American 
Center, ruling party headquarters, police stations and the 
provincial capitol.  Contrary to the nationwide trend, violent 
student demonstrations in Kwangju increased relative to 
protests in 1992.  In March several hundred students, armed 
with steel pipes and rocks, blocked President Kim from visiting 
Kwangju cemetery, where he planned to pay his respects to 
victims of the 1980 uprising there in order to alleviate 
regional tensions.  Police did not attempt to remove the 
students by force.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no state religion.  Full freedom prevails for 
proselytizing, doctrinal teaching, and conversion.  Korea both 
sends and receives missionaries of various faiths, and many 
religious groups in Korea maintain active links with members of 
similar faiths in other countries.  The Government and the 
public do not discriminate against minority sects.  Adherence 
to a particular faith confers neither advantages nor 
disadvantages in civil, military, or official life.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There is universal freedom of movement within the country.  
Foreign travel is generally unrestricted, but travel to North 
Korea is allowed only with government approval.  One of the 
conditions is that the trip must not have a political purpose, 
i.e., to praise North Korea or criticize the South Korean 
Government.  Between August 1989 and August 1992, 539 South 
Koreans in 18 different groups visited North Korea, and another 
2,247 contacted North Koreans with government approval.  In 
1993, however, the two sides had few exchanges and no meetings 
at the prime minister level because of renewed tensions caused 
by North Korea's refusal to allow complete International Atomic 
Energy Agency inspections of nuclear facilities and to set up a 
North-South Korean nuclear inspection regime.  The NSP arrested 
two labor activists on charges of violating the NSL for trying 
to visit North Korea.

Following a spate of incidents in 1991 in which prosecutors 
used exit bans to apply pressure on foreign citizens in 
commercial disputes, the Government issued in January 1992 new 
guidelines on the imposition of exit bans on foreigners under 
the Exit and Entry Control Act.  The act gives immigration 
authorities discretionary powers to block the departure of both 
foreigners and Koreans from Korea.  The new guidelines provide 
procedures where previously there had been none but still leave 
a considerable amount of discretion to the authorities.  There 
were no further reports of exit bans involving foreign 
citizens, although the threat of imposition of an exit ban 
remained credible.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Korean people have the right to elect their own 
government.  The Constitution, as amended in 1987, provides for 
the direct election of the President and for a mixed system of 
direct and proportional election of legislators to the 
unicameral National Assembly.  The President serves a single 
5-year term and may not be reelected.  The National Assembly's 
term is 4 years.  There is universal suffrage for all citizens 
aged 20 or above, and elections are held by secret ballot.

In a February 25 inaugural ceremony, the reins of government 
were peacefully transferred from Roh Tae Woo to Kim Young Sam, 
who became Korea's first democratically elected, genuinely 
civilian chief executive in nearly 30 years.  This was Korea's 
second, peaceful transfer of power in less than a decade.

President Kim instituted sweeping political reforms to reduce 
corruption, further institutionalize democracy, and improve 
human rights.  In June President Kim won National Assembly 
approval of a public servants ethics law which required 
financial disclosures for members of the three top civil 
service ranks and the Assembly.  In August President Kim 
instituted a real-name financial system to reduce corruption.  
President Kim reformed the security services and reinvigorated 
the Board of Audit and Inspection, which launched wideranging 
inquiries into government corruption.

For reasons of culture and discrimination, women occupy few 
positions in government and the professions.  There are 
currently 3 women in the 299-seat National Assembly, all of 
whom were appointed to proportional representation seats based 
on their parties' showing in the 1992 elections.  The only 
woman in the Cabinet has traditionally been the Second Minister 
for Political Affairs, whose portfolio is women's affairs.  
President Kim appointed three women to cabinet positions.  For 
the first time, women became the Ministers of Health and Social 
Affairs and of Environmental Affairs.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Several nongovernmental private organizations are active in 
promoting human rights and operate freely.  Chief among these 
groups are the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, the Human 
Rights Committee of the National Council of Churches in Korea, 
the Korean Bar Association, and "Mingahyop," an association of 
the families of political prisoners.  These groups publish 
reports on the human rights situation in Korea and make their 
views known both inside and outside the country.  There were no 
credible reports of government harassment.  The National 
Assembly and the major political parties all have committees 
concerned with various aspects of human rights.

Government and ruling party officials have generally been 
willing to meet with international human rights groups.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Korea's conservative Confucian tradition has left women 
subordinate to men socially, economically, and legally.  Most 
married women do not work outside the home.  In large companies 
women are often expected to resign upon marriage or no later 
than the birth of their first child.  Judicial decisions in 
cases involving women petitioners or defendants are often 
heavily influenced by the Korean Confucian ethos, which does 
not accord women equal status with men.  There has been a 
gradual improvement, however, in social mores and values 
affecting women.  Women have full access to education, become 
government officials, and hold elected office.  

The National Assembly enacted an Equal Employment Opportunity 
(EEO) law in 1988 and, in early 1991, the Government issued 
"Guidelines to Eliminate Sexual Discrimination in Employment."  
So far, however, the law and guidelines have had only limited 
effect.  There are very few women who work as company 
executives, officials in government ministries, or lawyers.

While women account for just over 40 percent of the 
economically active population, the average female worker's 
wage remained a little over half that of the average male 
worker, and starting wages for female university graduates were 
40 percent lower than those of their male counterparts.

The traditional preference for male children continues in Korea 
today.  It is estimated that when today's children reach 
marrying age there will be 400,000 "surplus bachelors."  Korean 
law bans sex testing and abortions except when the woman's life 
is in danger, a hereditary disease would be passed along, or in 
case of rape or incest.  Fetal sex testing and abortion of 
female fetuses, however, are still performed.

Korea's amended Family Law, which went into effect in January 
1991, permits women to head a household, recognizes a wife's 
right to a portion of the couple's property, and allows a woman 
to maintain greater contact with her offspring after a 
divorce.  Although the revisions helped abused women, divorce 
still remains a social taboo.  Most Koreans remained unaware of 
the revised law, and there is little government or private 
assistance for divorced women.  These factors, plus the fact 
that employment opportunities for women are limited and that 
divorced women have difficulty remarrying, leads some women to 
stay in abusive situations.

According to a survey conducted by the Health and Social 
Affairs Ministry, about 60 percent of 7,500 married women 
nationwide responded that their spouses had mistreated them.  
Close to half the women who reported mistreatment said that it 
had occurred once or twice, and about 5 percent stated they 
were subject to habitual mistreatment.  Among respondents who 
claimed they were physically mistreated, about half said that 
their husbands had thrown objects at them, about a quarter were 
pushed or thrown about, and about 20 percent were kicked or 
punched.  A quarter of mistreated respondents attributed the 
mistreatment to their spouse's drinking.  About 60 percent of 
7,500 women said that they had heard about government-run 
shelters for abused women.  The Ministry reported that 245 
women and 122 children used two government-run shelters.  
Private groups have also set up a hotline and a few shelters 
for abused women.

A 1992 report by the National Police Agency estimated that 9.8 
women per 1,000 are raped in South Korea.  Credible sources 
indicated a significant rise in the number of cases reported in 
1993.  Whether this rise is attributable to increased violence 
or increased reporting of violence or both is uncertain.  In 
any case, the National Assembly did not pass stronger bills 
against rape, as proposed by the ruling and opposition parties 
in 1992.


Children's human rights and welfare have not been prominent 
social policy issues.  The Government continued to devote an 
increasing share of the overall budget to social expenditures, 
which includes those related to the welfare of children.  A 
United Nations Children's Fund report rated Korea excellent in 
child welfare, particularly in child nutrition, health, 
education, and family planning.  Although government 
expenditures on education are low compared with other 
industrialized countries, Korea is notable for its very strong, 
Confucian commitment to education, which government, society, 
and parents support at all levels.

Child abuse has not been studied extensively, and statistics on 
child abuse are limited.  Reports to the authorities, however, 
of child abuse nationwide numbered less than 50 in recent 
years.  According to official statistics, the number of runaway 
children each year has dropped from about 7,000 in the past to 
approximately 1,000.  Seoul Metropolitan Government runs a 
children's counseling center, which investigates reports of 
abuse, counsels families, and cares for runaway children.  
Because Korea does not have a specific law against child abuse, 
however, it is difficult to prosecute and punish child abusers 
unless they commit a crime punishable under a separate law.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Republic of Korea is a racially homogeneous country with no 
ethnic minorities of significant size.  Nonetheless, regional 
rivalries exist.  Persons from the southwestern region (North 
and South Cholla Provinces) have traditionally faced 
discrimination.  Many Koreans believe that successive 
governments led by figures from the southeastern region (North 
and South Kyongsang Provinces) have deliberately neglected the 
economic development of the Cholla Provinces for political 
reasons.  President Kim attempted to alleviate longstanding 
regional grievances, such as the brutal suppression of the May 
1980 Kwangju uprising, through more evenhanded government 
spending and appointments, naming natives of the Cholla 
Provinces to be Prime Minister and Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Centuries of isolation and a history of foreign invasion and 
occupation engendered a tradition of xenophobia in Korea.  
Citizenship in Korea is based on blood, not location of birth, 
and Koreans must show as proof their family genealogy.  Thus, 
Korea-born Chinese residents cannot obtain Korean citizenship 
or become public servants and are unlikely to be hired by major 
corporations.  Due to legal as well as social discrimination, 
many Chinese residents in Korea have emigrated to other 
countries since the 1970's, with the number of Chinese 
residents decreasing from 40,000 to 18,000 over the past 
several years.  Amerasian children are usually able to obtain 
Korean citizenship.  No formal discrimination exists.  Informal 
discrimination, however, is prevalent.  Although a few 
Amerasians have achieved fame in sports or entertainment, an 
Amerasian is unlikely to become prominent in academia, business 
or government.

     People with Disabilities

As Korea continues to develop economically, socially, and 
politically, community and social organizations have started to 
focus attention on the issue of the rights and treatment of 
handicapped and mentally ill or retarded people.  Although 
there are public displays of concern for the mentally and 
physically disabled, such as the Special Olympics and 
television documentaries, public facilities for their everyday 
care and use remained inadequate and their general treatment by 
society discriminatory.  The Government lacked adequate 
educational programs and schools for severely disabled people.  
The Government did not discriminate officially against the 
disabled who were capable of attending regular schools, but 
societal pressures and cultural biases have a strong negative 
impact on that access.  The Government has not enacted 
legislation or otherwise mandated accessibility for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution gives workers, with the exception of most 
public service employees and teachers, the right to free 
association.  There are, however, blue-collar public sector 
unions in railways, telecommunications, postal workers, and the 
national medical center.  The Trade Union Law specifies that 
only one union is permitted at each place of work, and all 
unions are required to notify the authorities when formed or 

In the past, the Government did not formally recognize labor 
federations which were not part of or affiliated with the 
country's two legally recognized labor groupings--the 
Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the independent 
Korean Federation of Clerical and Financial Workers.  In 1993, 
however, the Labor Ministry officially recognized four 
independent white-collar federations, representing hospital 
workers, journalists, office workers at construction firms, and 
government research institutes.  These decisions followed 
rulings in the courts in 1992 that affiliation to the FKTU is 
not required in order to be registered as a legal labor 
federation.  In practice, labor federations not formally 
recognized by the Labor Ministry existed and worked without 
government interference, except if the authorities considered 
their involvement in labor disputes harmful to the nation.  

The Government, however, did arrest unionists it viewed as 
acting as third parties in instigating or prolonging labor 
disputes, as in the summer strikes at a number of firms 
associated with the Hyundai business group.  As a result of the 
fundamental shift made by President Kim's administration in 
labor policy and government amnesties (20 trade unionists were 
amnestied in December), the number of jailed workers plummeted 
from approximately 176 in 1992 to about 20 by the end of 1993.  

President Kim appointed National Assemblyman Rhee In Je, a 
progressive, as Labor Minister.  Unlike his predecessors, Rhee 
said that he was labor's advocate in the Government and took a 
tough stand against an insurance company accused of forcing 
employees to resign from the union.  He largely succeeded in 
amending labor regulations to comply with recent court 
decisions.  Minister Rhee ended the Government's hardline 
policy against dissident or radical labor federations such as 
the Korea Trade Union Congress (KTUC or "Chonnohyup") and 
affiliates of the Korean Congress of Independent Industrial 
Federations (KCIIF).  The Government met for the first time 
with dissident and independent labor federations it did not 
officially recognize, including the banned Teachers' Union.  
Moreover, the Government did not interfere in the work of the 
"National Labor Union Representatives Conference," which was 
formed in March by labor federations not recognized by the 
Government, such as KTUC, KCIIF, and labor federations 
representing Hyundai and Daewoo unions.  In December the 
President reshuffled the Cabinet and replaced Minister Rhee, 
who had been criticized heavily by the business community for 
his policies, with former National Assemblyman Nam Jae Hee.

Government nonrecognition of a labor federation did not disable 
a union unless the union's intervention in a labor dispute was 
considered by the Government as a hindrance to the dispute's 
resolution or seriously threatened the national economy.  The 
KTUC assisted the Hyundai Group Labor Union Association in 
holding coordinated collective actions, including strikes, at 
Hyundai companies.  Mediation efforts by the Government, 
including visits by the Labor Minister, failed to resolve the 
strikes.  In July the Government issued warrants to arrest KTUC 
President Dan Byung Ho and seven other unionists for illegal 
third-party intervention.  Police searched the groups' offices 
and arrested the Hyundai Group Labor Union Association chairman 
and several other unionists.  Arrest warrants remained valid 
for Dan Byung Ho and three others.

For the first time, leaders of the banned teachers' union 
(Chonkyojo) met with the Education Minister as well as other 
government officials.  The Government, however, did not lift 
the ban on labor activities by both public and private 
schoolteachers.  Korean law mandates the ban, which the 
Constitutional Court has upheld twice in recent years.  The 
Government instead offered to reinstate nearly 1,500 fired 
teachers if they resigned from Chonkyojo.  The Government began 
to reinstate teachers who submitted their resignations from 
Chonkyojo.  Under the Christmas amnesty, the ROKG amnestied, 
restored the civil rights of, or made eligible for rehiring, 
170 teachers who had previously been fired for joining the 
teachers' union.

There is no minimum number of members required to form a union, 
and unions may be formed without a vote of the full, 
prospective membership.  Korea's election and labor laws forbid 
unions from donating money to political parties or 
participating in election campaigns.  However, trade unionists 
have circumvented the ban by temporarily resigning their union 
posts and running for office on the ticket of a political party 
or as an independent.

Strikes are prohibited in government agencies, state-run 
enterprises, and defense industries.  By law enterprises in 
public interest sectors such as public transportation, 
utilities, public health, banking, broadcasting, and 
communications must submit to government-ordered arbitration in 
lieu of striking.  The Labor Dispute Adjustment Act requires 
unions to notify the Ministry of Labor of their intention to 
strike and mandates a 10-day "cooling-off period" before a 
strike may legally begin.  (This period is 15 days in public 
interest sectors.)  Overall membership in Korean labor unions 
has been declining over the last several years, largely because 
the explosion in labor organizing in 1987-89 left the movement 
divided but well compensated and worker rights significantly 

The FKTU is affiliated with the International Confederation of 
Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).  Most of the FKTU's 20 constituent 
federations maintain affiliations with international trade 
secretariats, as do KCIIF white collar federations and the KTUC 
Metalworkers Council.  In March the ICFTU held a conference in 
Seoul to discuss labor law reform, which brought together 
mainstream, independent, and dissident Korean trade unionists, 
as well as Korean and foreign experts.  In November the 
Friedrich Ebert Institute organized a similar conference in 
Seoul under the sponsorship of eight international trade union 

In response to freedom of association complaints lodged by 
Korean dissident and independent unions, the International 
Labor Organization (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association 
(CFA) issued an interim report in March which recommended that 
the Government bring Korean labor law and policy up to 
international worker rights standards.  In November the CFA 
again recommended that the Government reform labor laws in 
accordance "with the principles of freedom of association."  

The Government under President Kim adopted a policy of 
persuasion and mediation to settle strikes.  To settle strikes 
and work stoppages at 10 Hyundai companies, President Kim, for 
only the second time in Korea's history, ordered binding 
government arbitration to resolve the strike at Hyundai's auto 
factory.  Police intervention in labor disputes dropped 
dramatically, and the number of labor disputes again declined 
in 1993.  In the summer, the Government deployed riot police 
during strikes and work stoppages at Hyundai companies.  There 
were only two reported incidents of police breaking up strikes, 
at Hyundai Precision and Apollo Auto Parts.  There were no 
reports of employer-hired squads assaulting workers in 1993.

Since July 1991 South Korea has been suspended from the U.S. 
Overseas Private Investment Corporation insurance programs 
because of a lack of significant progress in worker rights.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution and the Trade Union Law guarantee the 
autonomous right of workers to enjoy collective bargaining and 
collective action.  Although the Trade Union Law is ambiguous, 
the authorities, backed by the courts, have ruled that union 
members cannot reject collective bargaining agreements signed 
by management and labor negotiators.  This situation has in the 
past led to repudiation of contracts and wildcat strikes.  
Extensive collective bargaining is practiced.  Korea's labor 
laws do not extend the right to bargain collectively to 
government employees, including employees of state or 
public-run enterprises, and defense industries.  The 
Government's wage guidelines in 1993 matched the wage targets 
negotiated between and agreed upon by the FKTU and the 
employers association.

Companies operating in Korea's two export processing zones 
(EPZ's) have been considered public-interest enterprises whose 
employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively face 
restrictions.  In practice, however, unions at EPZ companies 
have been formed, and workers in the two EPZ's exercise the 
right to organize and bargain collectively like other private 
sector unions.

Korea has no independent system of labor courts.  The central 
and local labor commissions form a semiautonomous agency of the 
Ministry of Labor that adjudicates disputes in accordance with 
the Labor Dispute Adjustment Law.  Each labor commission is 
composed of equal representation from labor (represented by the 
FKTU), management, and "the public interest."  Local labor 
commissions are empowered to decide on remedial measures in 
cases involving unfair labor practices and to mediate and, in 
some situations, arbitrate labor disputes.  The Labor Law 
authorizes labor commissions to start conciliation and 
mediation of labor disputes after, not before, negotiations 
break down and the two sides are locked into their positions.  
The Trade Union Law (article 39) prohibits antiunion 

The Trade Union Law and Labor Dispute Adjustment Law forbid 
third-party intervention in unions and labor disputes by 
federations not recognized by the Government, (such as 
Chonnohyup and KCIIF) but allow recognized labor federations, 
principally the FKTU, its affiliates, and five independent 
white-collar federations, to assist member unions.  The ban on 
third-party intervention also exempts mediation efforts by 
lawyers, experts, and others who have the consent of both labor 
and management.  The Government continued to enforce the laws 
against third-party intervention.  Mutual labor-management 
antagonism remains a serious problem, and some major employers 
remain strongly antiunion.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution provides that no person shall be punished, 
placed under preventive restrictions, or subjected to 
involuntary labor, except as provided by law and through lawful 
procedures.  Forced or compulsory labor is not condoned by the 
Government and is generally not practiced.  There were credible 
reports, however, of illegal foreign workers who were not paid 
back wages by their employers but who continued to work for, or 
live in dilapidated housing provided by, their employers.  
Credible reports exist of illegal foreign workers who were not 
compensated for injuries suffered on the job, and of others who 
lacked the funds to return to their home countries.  There is 
little government assistance for illegal foreign workers in 
such circumstances.  

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Standards Law prohibits the employment of persons 
under the age of 13 without a special employment certificate 
from the Ministry of Labor.  Because there is compulsory 
education until the age of 13, few special employment 
certificates are issued for full-time employment.  Some 
children are allowed to do part-time jobs such as selling 
newspapers.  In order to gain employment, children under 18 
must have written approval from their parents or guardians.  
Employers may require minors to work only a reduced number of 
overtime hours and are prohibited from employing them at night 
without special permission from the Ministry of Labor.  Child 
labor laws and regulations are clear and usually enforced when 
violations are found, but a shortage of inspectors precludes 
regular inspections.  Child labor has not been identified in 
any export industries.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government implemented a minimum wage law in 1988.  The 
minimum wage level is reviewed annually.  In 1993 it was about 
$10 per day (8,041 won).  Companies with fewer than 10 
employees are exempt from this law, and some still pay below 
minimum wages.  Due to Korea's tight labor market, however, 
most firms pay wages well above the minimum wage in order to 
attract and retain workers.  The FKTU and other unions continue 
to claim that the current minimum wage does not meet the 
minimum requirements of urban workers.  The Government notes 
that the money an average Korean blue-collar worker takes home 
in overtime and bonuses significantly raises the total 
compensation package.  According to the Ministry of Health and 
Social Affairs, 5.2 percent of the population lived below the 
poverty level in 1992.

Discrimination occurs against foreign workers, most of whom 
come from China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, and 
Pakistan to work, often illegally.  The Government and labor 
movement were largely unresponsive to protecting fundamental 
labor rights of foreign workers illegally at work in Korea, 
estimated by the Government to number about 60,000.  There were 
credible reports of Korean employers not paying illegal foreign 
workers or providing substandard living accommodations.  There 
is no government channel whereby illegal foreign workers to 
seek relief concerning loss of pay or unsatisfactory living and 
working conditions.  A handful of individual Korean churches 
and ministers provided some assistance to illegal foreign 

The Labor Standards and Industrial Safety and Health Laws 
provide for a maximum 56-hour workweek and a 24-hour rest 
period each week.  Amendments to the Labor Standards Law passed 
in March 1989 brought the maximum regular workweek down to 44 
hours.  According to the Ministry of Labor, the average Korean 
worker worked 47.5 hours per week, including overtime, in 1992.

The Government sets health and safety standards, but South 
Korea suffers from unusually high accident rates.  The Ministry 
of Labor employs few inspectors, and its standards are not 
effectively enforced.  The number of workers who suffered 
work-related accidents in 1992 declined by about 16 percent, 
from 128,169 to 107,435 accidents.  The Labor Ministry 
attributes industrial accidents to a focus on rapid, 
export-based industrialization, worn out or old equipment, 
increased use of hazardous chemicals, lack of research and 
manpower, and, in the case of construction, firms in a 
manpower-short sector employing unskilled workers without 
proper training.  The Industrial Safety and Health Law does not 
guarantee that workers who remove themselves from dangerous 
work environments would not jeopardize their continued 

[end of document]


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