Seoul cracks down on bad employers

Workplace bullying is a real social problem in the country. Widely tolerated in society and by employees themselves, harassment includes absurd obligations and gruelling work shifts. The new law approved today includes prison under certain circumstances.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The government of South Korea has introduced new laws that provide for harsh penalties (including prison) for employers who bully their employees.

This is the first time that South Korean authorities acknowledge the problem, considered by experts to be a real social scourge.

According to trade unions, about 70 per cent of employees have reported harassment by superiors at one point or another.

About 60 per cent of victims took no action, whilst 12 per cent face harassment every day.

Known as "gapjil", workplace bullying includes gossiping about colleagues or spreading personal information, forcing someone to drink or smoke or subjecting them to unwanted sexual attention.

Under the new legislation, reporting abuse will be protected. Employers will not be able to fire, transfer or demote workers who complain.

People found guilty of inappropriate behaviour can face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$ 25,470).