Female job quality remains lower

Female job quality remains lower

#female_labor #irregular_workers #glass_ceiling


The job quality of Korean women still remains low compared to their male counterparts, although the female employment rate edged up slightly last year, data showed Monday.

Statistics Korea said in its compiled report that among all female employees, 40.3 percent were irregular workers as of March this year, while the figure for men stood at 25.5 percent.

In terms of salary, a female worker was paid an average 1.78 million won ($1,530) a month last year, 62.8 percent of that of men in the country.

[A Country Where Memorials Are Becoming the Norm] Guui Station, Gangnam Station, Sewol: Citizens’ Lives Increasingly Impoverished, While Government Remains Without a Solution(Kyunghyang)

[A Country Where Memorials Are Becoming the Norm] Guui Station, Gangnam Station, Sewol: Citizens’ Lives Increasingly Impoverished, While Government Remains Without a Solution(Kyunghyang)

#risk_society #human_security #Korea #Sewol_tragedy #Gangnam_misogynic_crime #Guui_worker’s_death

“I came here to remember the victim, because it did not feel like someone else’s affair,” one citizen spoke, at Guui Station, Seoul where a nineteen-year-old temporary worker died while trying to fix a screen door alone.

For some time now, memorials have become the norm in South Korea. A nineteen-year-old subcontract worker died while fixing the screen door at Guui Station; a twenty-something woman was killed in a unisex bathroom near Gangnam Station; a string of subcontract workers took their own lives in Ulsan and Geoje; and two years ago, the Sewol sank to the bottom of the ocean. Each time such a tragic event occurred, citizens rushed out to the streets, to squares, and remembered the dead. The frustration at the living conditions that never seem to improve and at the government that doesn’t have any solutions has turned such memorials into a daily routine.

A Screen Door, Now a Door of Memories: On May 31, notes and chrysanthemums are posted next to the screen door 9-4 in the platform at Guui Station, line 2 of the Seoul Metro. Citizens continue to visit this site, where a nineteen-year-old temporary worker died on duty. Kim Chang-gil

At the site of the accident at Guui Station, where the young worker, so busy that he didn’t even have the time to enjoy a decent meal, died on duty, citizens stopped to post messages remembering the victim on the screen door, and in the evening, they voluntarily engaged in a silent protest. Near Gangnam Station exit 10, located near the site where a woman in her twenties was killed at the hands of a man she did not know, more than a thousand notes with messages remembering the victim were posted. The citizens continued to come to remember the victim for ten days.

South Korea, which went through modernization in a relatively short time, suffered constant tragedies: in 1994, the Seongsu Bridge collapsed; in 1995, the Sampoong Department Store collapsed; in 1999, a fire burned down Sealand; in 2003, there was a fire in the Daegu subway; and in 2014, the Sewol sank. But the way people responded to such disasters changed with the Sewol tragedy. The one leading the memorial changed from the state to the citizens. Shortly after the accident, citizens rushed out to remember the victims and later brought the tragedy into the public forum. The Gangnam Station murder, once known as a “random murder” was redefined as a misogynic crime, because of the memos posted by young women.

The social network services (SNS) have become a catalyst in making memorials a daily routine. After the Gangnam Station murder, a Facebook page called “Gangnam Station Exit 10” (over 5,100 followers) emerged, and after the screen door accident at Guui Station, a Facebook page called “Guui Station Platform Screen Door 9-4” appeared.
Citizens are not simply remembering the victims. Behind the stream of notes lies the calm awareness of the contradictions in our social structure. An office worker we met at the site of the Guui Station accident, Yi So-yeong (30) said, “Our social structure is set up so that we cannot know who will die or how.”

Some experts claim that such a phenomenon is the expression of anxiety that the citizens have as they live in a risky polarized society. Yi Gwan-hu, a researcher at Sogang Institute of Political Studies said, “In a society without hope, we are comforted by the sympathy among hopeless people, by the fact that there are people ‘like me’ everywhere.”
The constant stream of memorials also brings with it fatigue, because nothing has actually changed even after the issue has been openly discussed by our society.
Lee Taek-kwang, a professor at Kyunghee University said, “Issues of a scale that cannot be solved by mourning and remembering the victims alone should be solved at the social level, but since politics, which should mediate the problem-solving, is not functioning correctly, people end up tired and frustrated. The government and the political parties should become the media in solving social problems.”



Number of Newborn Babies Reach Lowest Ever: South Korea’s Growth Engine Dies Down(Kyunghyang)

Number of Newborn Babies Reach Lowest Ever: South Korea’s Growth Engine Dies Down(Kyunghyang)
The total number of newborn babies this year has recorded the lowest ever as of April. If this trend continues, the number of babies born this year is expected to drop below the lowest annual figure of 435,031 (2005). The number of marriages has also sharply declined compared to last year, so the low birth rate trend is expected to worsen. The country is stuck in a marsh of slow growth and the number of newborn babies continues to drop every year. On top of that, as the productive population also heads downward, the South Korean economy is likely to see its growth engine deteriorate. Some experts even claim that the government’s policies to encourage childbirth and support childcare are actually fueling the current low fertility phenomenon.

“The Vicious Cycle of Slow Growth: The Problem of the Low Birth Rate” Due to the falling birth rate, the number of newborn babies this year is expected to reach a record-breaking low. An empty baby bed is seen in a neonatal unit at Cheil General Hospital in Jung-gu, Seoul on June 23. Kim Chang-gil

According to the “April Population Trend” released by Statistics Korea on June 23, only 35,300 babies were born in April, a 7.3% decrease from a year ago. This is the lowest monthly figure since they began collecting statistics in 2000. The decrease rate compared to the same month last year was also the biggest since November 2013 (-12.3%). The total number of babies born from January to April this year was 137,900, a 5.2% (8,100) decrease from the same period last year (156,000). The total number of newborn babies from January to April was smaller than the same period in 2005, the year that saw the smallest number of newborn babies (153,800). At this rate, we are likely to break that record this year.

The only local area where the number of newborn babies increased from January to April was Sejong-si. Daejeon saw its figures decrease by 11.8% and Seoul (-5.4%) and Gyeonggi-do (-5.2%) also witnessed a big drop in the number of newborn babies. Given that the reason for the increase in Sejong was because of special factors such as the relocation of government departments and national research institutes, the number of newborn babies is actually decreasing nationwide.

This is because young people are reluctant to get married and have children due to the economic recession and the growing housing prices. The number of marriages this year from January to April was 94,200, 6.9% less than the previous year (101,200). If the number of marriages thus drops, it will be difficult to expect the number of newborn babies to rise next year.

By next year, the number of children 14 years and younger will fall below the number of senior citizens aged 65 and older in South Korea, and the productive population (15-64) will decrease for the first time. The country is in desperate need of measures to slow down the rapid decrease in the population, but the government is only fueling distrust in childbirth and childcare policies with the recent controversy surrounding “customized childcare (limiting the time families can put their children aged 0-2 in childcare to six hours a day for single-income families)” following the conflict over the Nuri program. The government released a series of policies that raised labor intensity, such as performance-based salaries and easier layoffs, while neglecting to secure and expand the social safety net. Thus the nation is farther away from creating an environment where people can give birth to a child with peace of mind.

Jang Jin-hee, a research fellow at Seoul Foundation of Women & Family said, “When we analyze the reason people put off pregnancy and childbirth, the number one reason is economic conditions such as expensive housing prices and the cost of child-rearing. After giving birth to their first child and experiencing the difficulties in infant care, childcare, education, and also in keeping their careers, couples tend to give up on the idea of having a second child.”

Read more: http://english.khan.co.kr/khan_art_view.html?artid=201606241828547&code=710100#csidxfbef9840a23bc7381367fffd6f70194

#birth_rate #Korea #economic_choice?



[Editorial] We Detest the Misogynic Gaze on the Murder of a Woman Near Gangnam Station (Kyung-hyang)

[Editorial] We Detest the Misogynic Gaze on the Murder of a Woman Near Gangnam Station 
#hate_crime #misogyny #gender
Society’s reaction to the murder of a twenty-something woman by a man in his thirties in a bathroom near Gangnam Station in Seoul has been explosive. A temporary memorial has been installed at the subway station near the crime scene, and the chrysanthemums that citizens have brought form a pile that reaches higher than a person’s knees. On the outer walls of the subway station exit, hundreds of memos have been posted in memory of the victim while others criticize a society that discriminates against women. The Labor Party, the Green Party, and various women’s groups have released a series of statements and a candlelight vigil was organized last night. Women are pouring out their thoughts on misogyny intensifying in our society.

Candlelight Fills Gangnam Station Exit 10: On the evening of May 19, citizens remember the female victim of a murder in a unisex bathroom holding candles in front of Gangnam Station exit 10 in Seoul. Yi Jun-heon

Society is focusing on the latest case because the motive of the murder: misogyny. The suspect’s statement, “Women looked down on me” and the fact that he had waited over an hour for a woman to enter the unisex bathroom make it difficult to argue that misogyny was not the motive. When we think of whether the suspect would have attempted the crime against the male population if he had been slighted by men, the answer becomes clear. The suspect did not target the men who entered the bathroom that day. The police stressed the suspect’s history of being admitted to hospitals four times for schizophrenia. In other words, his misogyny and paranoia could be the manifestation of schizophrenia.

However, it is clear that this case is at least a murder targeting a specific group: women. Otherwise, there is no way to explain why countless women sympathize with the fear and remember the victim on the Internet and at Gangnam Station. Given that the perpetrator did not target an unspecified mass, but women in particular means it is unreasonable to call this a “random” crime. This incident revealed the reality in South Korean society, where a woman faced an outrageous death just because she was a woman. Any woman in this country could fall victim to a crime anytime and anywhere, and this incident shows that women must face fear in their daily lives. According to a survey by the Korean Women’s Development Institute, an overwhelming 98% of the perpetrators of violent crimes such as murder and robbery are men, while 84% of the victims are women. In a situation where the victim and perpetrator of a crime can be clearly distinguished by gender, the fear women have is indeed specific and realistic.

In the social context, what we must focus on is society’s perspective of this case, as well as the dangers this case reveals. The opposition stirring from one side of those who are busy remembering the victim and reflecting on existing views is problematic. They argue that we should not generalize the crime of a mentally ill person to a crime of misogyny. We can dismiss this as a controversial topic. But attempts to seek the motive of the murder in the way the woman was dressed and how much she had drunk is absurd. Treating this issue as a gender conflict and an issue of reverse discrimination against men is also a big problem. Some users of Ilbe, an online community of extreme right-wing conservatives, made gestures with their fingers and posted pictures of them tearing off the messages posted at Gangnam Station. Such patriarchal views that look down on women clearly show us where the hotbed of misogyny lies. The suspect in the latest case did not just fall from the sky. We must not deny the fact that the misogynic posts and sexist language overflowing on the Internet brought on this horrible crime. In a crime where the perpetrator had targeted the entire female community, a twenty-something woman was sacrificed. A society that cannot even denounce such sexual discrimination, which was the fundamental cause, is dangerous.

What we should despise is not just the act of murder triggered by misogyny. The misogynic eyes looking at the women remembering the victim are also something to detest. In this world, South Korea may be a society where women have a low social status, but even so, it is truly shameful that the discourse making groundless attacks on women is spreading in plain sight. We all need to reflect on how the South Korean society became so sick.

Seoul Metro under fire for continued accidents on subway tracks

Seoul Metro under fire for continued accidents on subway tracks

Published : 2016-05-29 16:35 Updated : 2016-05-29 17:25

Subway operator Seoul Metro came fire for lax safety after another worker died on Saturday from being trapped between a screen door separating the subway platform and the train on subway line No. 2. It was the third fatal accident of its kind to occur since 2013.

According to Gwangjin Police Station, the 19-year-old Kim, an employee of a company that Seoul Metro had subcontracted for door maintenance, had been repairing the platform screen door at Guui Station on Saturday evening.

He was working by himself, with neither supervisor nor any signboard to notify approaching train operators.

The authorities have examined surveillance camera recordings and are set to summon related officials for questioning. The probe will be jointly handled by the Ministry of Employment and Labor’s special judicial police and the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency.

Clear screen doors were first set up in 2007 at subway stations in Seoul to prevent people from jumping onto the tracks in suicide attempts. The doors, however, have often caused casualties as they frequently malfunction.

In January 2013, a 38-year-old screen door maintenance worker surnamed Shim, was fatally hit by a train while he was on the tracks to fix a screen door at Seongsu Station. In August 2014, another employee surnamed Cho from the same company died from a similar accident at Gangnam Station. Both employees were carrying out the task alone when the accidents happened.

Last year, Seoul Metro established a safety manual for subway maintenance subcontractors, instructing workers to work in pairs and forbidding them from going on the tracks during subway operation hours.

However, such requirements are often overlooked by workers due to the limited number of workers as well as urgent calls by subway operators to quickly fix screen doors for passengers’ convenience.

“We deeply regret lax safety management over screen door maintenance involving our subcontracted companies. We apologize to the bereaved families and citizens who use Seoul Metro,” said Jeong Su-young, head of Seoul Metro’s infrastructure management department, on Saturday.

He added that Seoul Metro will change its screen door maintenance company from the current subcontractor to a city-run subsidiary company, starting from August, citing “workforce efficiency and strengthened safety.” It also said it would establish new requirements for screen door repair.

By Kim Da-sol(ddd@heraldcorp.com)

#worker’s_health #subway_worker #fatal_accident

South Korean kids get just 34 minutes of outside play time a day(Hankyoreh)

South Korean kids get just 34 minutes of outside play time a day(Hankyoreh)

Amount of time spent playing is less than a third of the time enjoyed by American children

Children’s time spent outdoors, by country

Children in South Korea spend an average of just 34 minutes outside each day, which is less than 30% of the time spent by children in the US, a study found.“In our study of exposure factors for South Korean children – including the time they spend in each place, the amount of food that they eat and their respiratory rate – children between the ages of three and nine spend an average of 34 minutes outside per day, which is just 29% of the 1 hour and 59 minutes spent by children in the US,” the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) said on May 10.Exposure factors refer to the values of a number of variables (the concentration of pollutants, body weight, respiratory rate and period and frequency of exposure, for example) that are used to assess the degree of exposure to environmental pollutants. From 2013 until last year, NIER studied 23 exposure factors for young people and teenagers who were 18 years old and younger. Various age groups were found to spend the following amount of time outside: 27 minutes for 0-2 years, 32 minutes for 3-6 years, 36 minutes for 7-9 years, 35 minutes for 10-12 years, 34 minutes for 13-15 years, and 43 minutes for 16-18 years. With the exception of infants and young children, middle school students spent the least amount of time outside.The respiratory rate, or the amount of air that is breathed in during the course of the day, is used to assess exposure to toxic substances through the respiratory system. The study found that the respiratory rate for South Korean children between the ages of five and six was 10.8 cubic meters on average. This was higher than Japan (9.9 cubic meters) and lower than the US (12.16 cubic meters).The study also examined infants’ tendency to suck on their fingers and other objects. At two years and below, infants sucked on their fingers an average of 3.9 times an hour and sucked on other objects 4.4 times an hour. Infant sucking lasted an average of 8.41 minutes an hour, which was shorter than the approximately 11 minutes that American children spent sucking. The NIER believes that this difference results from the fact that South Korean parents and teachers try to stop children from sucking their fingers or other objects.By Lee Keun-young, senior staff writer

#child_health #Korea #evenIwalkmydogmorethan30minutes



Primary sector workers show highest fatalities among cancer insurance policyholders (Korea herald)

Primary sector workers show highest fatalities among cancer insurance policyholders (Korea herald)

Primary sector workers such as farmers, fisherman and miners have the highest annual death rate among cancer insurance policyholders in Korea, industry data showed Monday. 

Among 12 occupational groupings, male workers in the agriculture, fishing, mining, livestock and fishing industries had the highest death rate among cancer insurance policyholders at 0.6 percent in 2014, according to the Korea Insurance Development Institute. 

Male fatalities in the sector came to 628 during the year among a total of 102,782 insurance policy holders. 

Men working in technical posts in the transportation and construction sectors saw the second-largest fatality rate, at 0.4 percent, followed by the service industry including food, hospitality and tourism.

#health_inequality #cancer #mortality

“Massive layoffs in shipbuilding sector in the offing” (Korea herald)

“Massive layoffs in shipbuilding sector in the offing”

How is it related to adverse health outcomes? It will depend on which way ‘restructuring’ should take

‪#‎restructuring‬, ‪#‎layoff‬, ‪#‎unemployment‬

(Full Article) Another massive reduction in the local shipbuilding workforce may come as most shipyards are still struggling with falling orders and mounting losses, industry sources said Friday.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., one of the country’s top three shipbuilders, is set to announce its restructuring plans next week, which may include a 10 percent cut of its workforce, which would mean about 3,000 workers would leave the company.

Hyundai Heavy’s local rivals are also expected to sharply reduce their workforces this year, with their subcontractors being forced to follow suit.

Samsung Heavy Industries Co. has been implementing an early retirement scheme since last year, and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., is working to streamline its business lines through a spin-off.

Hit by an industrywide slump and increased costs, the nation’s big three shipyards — Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries — racked up a combined loss of 7.7 trillion won last year.

It was the first time that all three of the nation’s largest industry players registered losses.


“With new orders drying up, local shipyards are forced to cut costs,” a source said. “Further reduction in the shipbuilding-related workforce seems to be inevitable.”

According to the data by global researcher Clarkson Research Services, South Korean shipbuilders had an order backlog totaling 27.59 million compensated gross tons as of end-March, the lowest since March 2004, when the comparable figure was 27.52 million CGTs.

Last year, a total of 15,000 workers left Hyundai Heavy and eight other shipyards, with the total number of workers at the companies falling to 195,000.

The number of employees in the shipbuilding sector had been sharply increasing since 2005 in line with a sharp rise in demand for new ships, reaching 143,000 in 2007 and 169,000 in 2012.

Local shipyards are striving to tide over worsening business conditions but have failed to clinch new large orders for the past three months, feeling the pinch of low demand.

Lower oil prices have been leading to a drop in demand for new ships and offshore facilities, and Chinese rivals have scooped up a large slice of orders for smaller ships, in particular. (Yonhap)

Humidifier Disinfectant Incident (Kyunghyang)

[Humidifier Disinfectant Incident] Victims, “We Can’t Accept an Apology Just for Show. Leave Korea, Oxy!“

ㆍOxy Officially Apologizes for Humidifier Sterilizer Scandal after Five Years

“What’s the Use?” Atar Safdal, head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea bows and apologizes to the families of the victims of their humidifier sterilizer during a press conference at the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, Seoul on the morning of May 2. Yi Jun-heon

Oxy Reckitt Benckiser, whose humidifier sterilizers caused harm to the most number of victims, officially apologized five years after the incident first broke out. They explained that the apology was delayed because they tried to provide sufficient compensation measures, but they failed to present any specific plans to compensate the victims. The company will have a hard time avoiding criticism that their latest apology was rushed to resolve the situation as prosecutors launch an investigation into the incident and more and more consumers join in a boycott of their products.

Atar Safdal, head of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea (currently, RB Korea) held a press conference at the Conrad Hotel in Yeouido, Seoul on May 2 and said, “We bow our heads and apologize to all the victims and their families who suffered lung damage due to the humidifier sterilizer. We fully realize our responsibility in failing to promptly provide appropriate measures.” According to the prosecutors, 177 people including 70 dead suffered damages from using an Oxy product. From 2004 to 2010, over 2.2 million Oxy humidifier sterilizers were sold.

Safdal said, “We will gather a panel of experts by July and provide a compensation package to those who used Oxy products among the victims classified as level 1 and 2 victims. We hope that the 10 billion won we have already provided will be used to help other people who suffered from the humidifier sterilizers.” As for the scale of the compensation, he only stated the basic position, “We will decide after gathering the panel and discussing with the victims.”

It appeared that the company was also trying to dismiss the allegations that the company tried to conceal evidence as an employee’s mistake. Safdal said, “Our company has a code of conduct that all employees must comply with. If misconduct is confirmed, we will immediately take corrective action.” When a reporter asked if this apology was from the headquarters in the United Kingdom, Safdal said, “You can think of it as representing both the Korean branch and the British headquarters. The CEO of the head office in Britain asked me to apologize on behalf of him and headquarters will support us when we provide the compensation package.”

At the press conference this day, about a dozen victims and their families including a ten-year-old boy who has to live with the help of an oxygen tank due to injuries suffered from the humidifier sterilizer were present. Some families approached the stage and strongly protested, “You wouldn’t see us for five years. This apology is just for show because the prosecutors have launched an investigation.” They told the company, “Voluntarily withdraw from the Republic of Korea” and claimed, “We want a sincere apology, not one just for show.”

#Korea #Humidifier_disinfectant #toxicity #Oxy

Cigarette consumption rebounds (Korea herald)

Cigarette consumption rebounds (Korea herald)

is policy failure really unexpected?

#Korea #Cigarette #rebound

Cigarette sales rebounded in the first quarter of this year, after a sharp decline early last year due to an increase in prices, according to a Yonhap news report.

The report, which compiled data from several financial investment firms, said about 17.7 billion sticks of cigarettes were sold in the first three months of this year, a 40.4 percent increase from the 12.6 billion sticks sold in the same period last year.

The government’s increase of the tax on cigarettes by 2,000 won per pack in January last year had led to a sharp fall in quarterly sales by 35.1 percent.

The sales increase was unexpected as the nation’s cigarette consumption has diminished since 2000, industry watchers said.