South Korea


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South Korea Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

One of the most important human rights issue in South Korea continues to be the National Security Law, which is used arbitrarily to curtail the right to freedom of expression and association, providing long sentences or the death penalty for loosely defined 'anti-state' activities.

Despite Amnesty International's continuous urgings over the years to abolish/reform the law according to international standards, there has yet to be any change. In 2010, 34 people were charged under the NSL. There were also 696 conscientious objectors (mostly Jehovah's Witnesses) in prison for refusing to perform compulsory military service at the end of 2010. Journalists, bloggers and protesters continue to be arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

South Korea Newsroom



April 27, 2018 • Press Release

Korea peace talks: A missed opportunity for human rights

Responding to the joint declaration following talks between the leaders of North and South Korea at Panmunjeom, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher Arnold Fang said: “The declaration should be viewed with cautious optimism, but the near-total absence of human rights from today’s agenda was a missed opportunity.” “These are unprecedented talks but governments must not …

October 28, 2016 • Press Release

South Korea: Stop criminalization of abortion

The South Korean government must withdraw proposed rules that would increase the penalty for doctors who perform illegal abortions, said Amnesty International, ahead of mass demonstrations planned by women’s rights groups on 29 October. On 23 September, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced a revision of a rule on “inappropriate medical practices” that could …

July 4, 2016 • Press Release

South Korea: Five year sentence against union leader a chilling blow to peaceful protest

The five-year prison sentence handed down to a prominent union leader is the latest example of how the government is galvanising its attack on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in South Korea, Amnesty International said today.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

December 28, 2015 • Press Release

“Comfort women” deal must not deny survivors justice

In response to the announcement that the Japanese and South Korean governments have reached an agreement on the issue of Japan's World War II military sexual slavery system, Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International said:

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

October 19, 2014 • Report

Bitter Harvest: Exploitation and Forced Labor of Migrant Agricultural Workers in South Korea

The South Korean government must end the exploitation and widespread use of forced labour of migrant agricultural workers, Amnesty International said, as it published a new report that reveals how the country’s farming industry is rife with abuse. Bitter Harvest exposes the true face of South Korea’s Employment Permit System (EPS) that directly contributes to the serious exploitation of migrant agricultural workers. The government-run work scheme is designed to provide migrant labour to small and medium-sized enterprises that struggle to hire a sufficient number of national workers.

May 20, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: South Korea 2013

Republic of Korea Head of state Lee Myung-bak Head of government Kim Hwang-sik The National Security Law (NSL) was increasingly and arbitrarily used to curtail freedoms of association and expression. This extended to the internet, where online debate on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) was tightly controlled. Media workers took industrial action …