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Proposed Amendments Threaten Media Freedom, Free Expression

(Seoul) - South Korea’s National Assembly should reject proposed amendments to the law on media arbitration that would undermine media freedom and freedom of expression, Article 19, Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, Open Net Association, and…
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Summary Park Beom-seok, a 22-year-old gay man, suspected that he might be gay when he was eleven or twelve years old. Still, he struggled to find support in his school environment. Classmates in middle school used “gay” as a slur, targeting boys who…
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Isolation and Lack of Support Put Young People at Risk

(Seoul) – Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in South Korea experience isolation and mistreatment in schools, Human Rights Watch and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School said in a…
A schoolgirl stands next to a stream
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Former Students Share Their Stories to Press for Change

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in South Korea are bullied and harassed by both students and teachers in schools. When they seek help and support from teachers or counselors, they are often instead “outed” to other teachers or…
G Lee, an LGBT person in South Korea © 2021 Human Rights Watch
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(Seoul, September 14, 2021) – Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in South Korea experience isolation and mistreatment in schools, Human Rights Watch and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale…
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Her job had been going well, the woman told me. But her married boss started making sexual advances, which she rebuffed. Then he gave her a gift — a clock. She put it in her bedroom, but the light bothered her, so she kept moving it. “But every…
Women protest to demand stronger government action to fight the spread of intimate photos and footage taken by hidden cameras in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2018.
Report
Summary This report, based on interviews with survivors and experts, and a survey, documents the spread and impact in South Korea of what are referred to there as “digital sex crimes.” Digital sex crimes are crimes involving non-consensual intimate…
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Government Response to Digital Sex Crimes Inadequate

(Seoul) – Widespread internet posting in South Korea of sexual images of women and girls without their consent is having a devastating impact on the victims, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should be doing more to prevent and…
A group of women sit holding protest signs that read "My Life Is Not Your Porn"
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Widespread internet posting in South Korea of sexual images of women and girls without their consent is having a devastating impact on the victims. The government should be doing more to prevent and respond to these digital sex crimes. …
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February 15, 2021 Human Rights Watch Submission to the Ministry of Unification Regarding the Interpretation Guidelines of the Amendments of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act We are writing in response to your call for comments regarding…
China: Don’t Force 8 Refugees Back to North Korea PHOTO
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Revise Laws to Recognize Diversity in Families

On January 26, the South Korean government announced it would seek to revise the legal definition of “family” in South Korea, and held a public hearing on the need to recognize the full diversity of families, including single parents and unmarried…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
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Address North Korea Concerns, Plight of Marginalized Groups

(New York, January 13, 2021) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration weakened its criticism of human rights in North Korea in 2020, including by targeting North Korean human rights organizations in the south, Human Rights Watch said…
A banner emphasizing enhanced social distancing is displayed at Seoul City Hall in Seoul, South Korea on November 25, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
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Repeal Abusive National Security Law

(Seoul) – The South Korean government should revise recent amendments to the National Intelligence Service Act that could be abused by the country’s intelligence agency, Human Rights Watch said today. The amendments, rather than constraining the…
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Coalition Urges President Moon to Take Stronger Stance on Abuses

(Seoul) – South Korea’s government should strengthen its efforts to promote human rights in North Korea, a coalition of rights-oriented groups said today in an open letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The …
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Law Would Block South Koreans from Sending Materials North

(New York) – The South Korean National Assembly should reject a proposed law that would criminalize sending leaflets, information, money, and other items to North Korea, Human Rights Watch said today. If enacted, the law would violate South Koreans’…
People watch a news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. 
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Services, Education, and Broader Change Needed to Combat Deep Gender Inequity

On November 26, a horrifying episode in South Korea neared its end when a court in Seoul sentenced Cho Joo-bin to 40 years in prison. Cho ran a network of online chat rooms on Telegram, where he and several accomplices shared videos of sexual violence…
Women protest to demand stronger government action to fight the spread of intimate photos and footage taken by hidden cameras in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2018.
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Draft Law an Improvement, but Still No Freedom to Choose

South Korea’s government last week announced new draft legislation that would permit abortion up until 14 weeks and, in some circumstances, up to 24 weeks, but falls short of full decriminalization. The proposed law represents an important reform…
Protesters shout slogans during a rally demanding the abolition of the country's ban on abortions outside of the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea
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Political Crackdown with Targeted Reviews, Inspections Prompts Fears

(New York) – The South Korean government is targeting activist organizations that focus on North Korea’s human rights problems for special review in an apparent effort to intimidate them, Human Rights Watch said today. Tensions between the South…
Activist Park Sang-hak holds a leaflet depicting the death of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during a press conference in Seoul on July 6, 2020. © 2020 Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
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New Measures an Important First Step, But More is Needed

In the wake of the chilling "Nth room" case, the South Korean government recently announced an inter-agency plan to "eradicate digital sex crimes." This response is a testament to the women's rights activists who have fought for years to…
Women protest to demand stronger government action to fight the spread of intimate photos and footage taken by hidden cameras in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2018.