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.

South Korea’s Decrease in Population, More Serious than Japan (kyunghyang)

[20 Years of the Population Cliff: Lessons from Japan]
South Korea’s Decrease in Population, More Serious than Japan


#Korea #population #low_birthrate #aging


Jang (31) had worked as an after-school instructor, but recently failed to renew her contract. Although she has a boyfriend, she has no thoughts of marriage. Jang said, “I don’t earn a lot of money and my status is unstable because it’s a temporary job, so it’s difficult to think about marriage.” She said, “It’s a bit gloomy alone, but I can lower my expectations and adjust to the environment, but if I start a family, I’ll have to get a house and things will be a lot more difficult.”

Population pyramid of Sourt Korea(2020)

The fertility rate in South Korea has been extremely low, less than 1.3 children per woman (the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime), for fifteen years in a row since 2001. The government presented measures for the low birthrate and aging of our society since 2005, but the birthrate remains at the bottom among a list of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries.

South Korea’s fertility rate has sharply declined in a short period of time. The birthrate, which was 6.0 children in 1960, dropped to 2.1 children, nearly the replacement fertility rate, in 1983. Then in 1998, it dropped to 1.45 children, 1.3 children in 2001 and 1.08 children in 2005. In 2007, the fertility rate rebounded slightly to 1.25, but as of 2014 (1.21), it has yet to recover to 1.3 children.

South Korea had implemented a “basic plan for the low birthrate and an aging society” on two occasions, first in 2006-2010 and second in 2011-2015, but it failed to present an effective policy response. Jo Seong-ho, assistant research fellow at the Population Policy Research Department at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs announced in the report, “Status of and Policy for the Low Fertility Rate in South Korea and Japan” released last November, “The problem about South Korea’s policy response to the low fertility rate is that they focus on married families such as those concerning childbirth and childcare, and that the scale of the policy is too small.”

The third basic plan for the low birthrate and an aging society (2016-2020) accepted such criticism and include some measures to relieve the socio-economic reasons why young people hesitate or give up on marriage. Specifically, the plan includes measures to stimulate youth employment and strengthen housing support for newlyweds. The direction of the plans has improved, but its effectiveness still remains controversial.

Stimulating youth employment, which is the key in the government’s low birthrate measures, has as its premise the government’s “labor reforms,” but if such reforms, which have the risk of increasing employment instability by increasing the number of temporary jobs, are carried out, it is doubtful as to whether the younger generation will be able to find peace and have children. Jeong Jun-yeong, director of policy at the Youth Union said, “Measures to stimulate youth employment in the government’s third basic plan is only a low-birthrate version of the labor reforms that the Park Geun-hye government has been trying to push.”

[Newsmaker] Reckitt Benckiser apologizes, offers funds (Korea Herald)

#humidifier_disinfectant #toxicity

Amid the prosecution’s widening probe into Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea and other companies related to their toxic humidifier disinfectants, the British firm apologized on Thursday to victims and unveiled a plan to offer an additional 5 billion won ($4.4 million) in humanitarian assistance.

In a letter released Thursday afternoon, the company addressed its “social responsibility” in deaths and diseases caused by its humidifier sterilizers, saying it would cooperate with investigators to solve the issue as soon as possible.

“Oxy RB Korea would like to express our sincere apology to those suffering and their families for the disappointment and anxiety due to the lack of a more timely communication related to the HS issue,” the company said in the letter.

“We have a long and established safety track record and have never before faced an issue like this. Nevertheless, we deeply acknowledge and recognize our social responsibility to respond on the HS matter and we have tried hard to engage with, and listen to, the needs of victims.”

So far, the humidifier disinfectants have been blamed for claiming 228 lives in Korea for a harmful substance they contained that caused serious lung disease, with 70 percent of those having used the company’s products. The total number of injured victims reaches 1,528.

A family member of a humidifier disinfectant victim stages a protest calling for the punishment of the involved companies in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul on April 19. (Yonhap)

The statement comes three days after local supermarkets Lotte Mart and Homeplus offered an apology for their involvement in distributing the harmful disinfectants here. It is Oxy’s first press statement on the issue released in the five years since the case was first brought to light.

The Korean government confirmed in 2011 that it had found a significant association between the disease and the use of humidifier disinfectant.

Earlier in the day, an official, who was in charge of customer service for the British firm, appeared at the prosecutors’ office for questioning. Prosecutors reportedly asked the official why some posts to the company’s website left by customers complaining about the products’ side effects were removed.

The prosecutors and a team of 20 experts in medicine and pharmacy science have also reportedly confirmed the correlation, which they said will be presented as evidence in the upcoming trials. They are also studying whether the disinfectants could have caused damage to other organs aside from lungs.

The prosecution suspects Reckitt Benckiser of bribing a professor at Hoseo University to fabricate research papers in favor of the company. The firm has cited the papers to claim that its products had not resulted in the deaths of pregnant women and infants.

The prosecution expanded the probe into whether the British headquarters had approved the sales of the toxic products here. The British company has denied its involvement, saying it had been entirely the Korean subsidiary’s decision.

While the firm has maintained that it had not been aware of its products’ toxicity, the company allegedly contacted a number of victims to offer compensation in return for them not filing a lawsuit as the investigation picked up pace.

Prosecutors also said Thursday that during questioning last November they secured testimonies from company officials involved in research that they were aware of the harmfulness of the substance, but that they skipped safety tests.

According to prosecutors, Reckitt Benckiser also allegedly deleted a number of materials and safety data sheets about PHMG, which is responsible for severe illnesses and deaths, from its computers.

Prosecutors plan to summon researchers and executives at the company involved in manufacturing the products next week.

Meanwhile, victims of toxic humidifier sterilizer plan to file a class action lawsuit against the products’ manufacturers and distributors to seek compensation, an environmental group said.

The Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health said that it will hold a meeting with the victims and their families on Sunday to form a group of litigants and discuss their plans for the lawsuit.

The victims are targeting Reckitt Benckiser and local distributors, including Lotte Mart and Home Plus, involved in manufacturing and selling the humidifier disinfectants in Korea.

“We will discuss the amount of compensation we will seek and receive applications to form a group of litigants,” said Lim Heung-kyu, an official at the center. “Our primary purpose for the lawsuit is to make sure that those classified as having suffered less directly from the products also get due compensation.”

The Environment Ministry decided to classify the victims into four groups in accordance with the level of correlation between their disease and the use of disinfectant. It is set to compensate 200 of the victims who fell into the first two groups highly affected by the products.

The center will raise funds to help the victims and their families as a whole rather than compensating individuals, he said. It plans to build a private research center and file a compensation suit in a British Court against Reckitt Benckiser.

By Ock Hyun-ju (

Victims eye class-action lawsuit against humidifier sterilizer producers, sellers

#humidifier_sterilizer #toxicity #lawsuit


SEOUL. April 21 (Yonhap) — A group of people victimized by toxic humidifier sterilizers plan to bring a class-action lawsuit against the products’ manufacturers and distributors to seek unspecified damages, an environment civic group said Thursday.

The Seoul-based Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health said it will convene a meeting of the victims and their families on Sunday to discuss the planned lawsuit and form a group of litigants for the lawsuit.

The lawsuit will be filed by the victims who have yet to sue individually to seek compensation. The companies targeted are British firm Oxy Reckitt Benckiser, Lotte Mart and other domestic and overseas companies involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the products in question.

“We will discuss the amount of the damages with them if (the class-action lawsuit) is formalized at the meeting,” said Lim Heung-kyu, an official at the center. “We will try to make the group of litigants as large as we can.”

The humidifiers disinfectant case, one of the worst scandals involving consumer products using chemicals, came to light after four pregnant women died of lung problems for unknown reasons in a row in 2011.

The authorities have said there is a connection between the deaths of more than a hundred people who died from lung failure and the germicides they used in sterilizing household humidifiers.

The prosecution alleged that the two chemicals used in the products — PHMG Phosphate or PGH, were responsible for severe illnesses and deaths. Two other chemicals used were PHMG hydrochloride and MIT/CMIT, which the prosecution found not as harmful as the other two.

A tally compiled by the civic group said the number of victims, including 228 dead people, from the humidifier sterilizers has stood at 1,528.

Family members of people victimized by toxic humidifier sterilizers and civic group members attend a press conference at a Seoul hotel on April 18, 2016, that Lotte Mart, a major retail giant in South Korea, held to apologize to its customers. The retailer promised compensation for any damage that its humidifier sterilizer might have caused.

On Monday, Lotte Mart and Homeplus, major retail giants in South Korea, apologized to their customers, promising compensation for any damage that their humidifier sterilizer might have caused.

Civic and customer rights groups, however, doubted the sincerity in the apologies and compensation promises, claiming that the timing is suspicions in that they came too late and also just before the prosecution’s imminent move to summon their officials.



Korea’s income inequality worst in Asia (The Korea Herald)

Korea’s income inequality worst in Asia

[Graphic News] The Korea Herald

The income share of Korea’s top 10 percent earners to total earnings is the highest in Asia, according to a report released by the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday.

The IMF’s Analysis of Inequality in Asia report said Korea’s top 10 percent income class accounted for 45 percent of the country’s total income.

In 2013, the top 1 percent in emerging Asia earned 32 percent of the income share, compared to 30 percent in 1990. The share for the top decile in South Korea rose 5 percentage points over the measured period, the largest among the countries studied, reaching 12 percent in 2013.

“This development has been attributed to rapid aging, large wage gaps for regular and nonregular workers and gender occupational inequality,” the report said.


#Korea #income_inequality

Workers with depression can claim compensation

surprisingly, it wasn’t until now…

By Choi Sung-jin

Employees who do emotional labor, such as sales clerks at department stores and hypermarkets, will be able to receive industrial accident compensation if they suffer from depression because of customers’ physical or verbal violence.The Ministry of Employment and Labor said a revised bill passed the National Assembly on Tuesday.

According to the modified law, the ministry has added adjustment disorders ― people experiencing social and psychological stress ― to illnesses that qualify for industrial accident compensation. So far, the relevant law has recognized only post-traumatic stress disorders.

“Now that we have included depression and adjustment disorders in the category entitled for compensation, almost all mental diseases can be covered by industrial accident insurance,” a ministry official said.

Starting in July, the law will expand to cover industrial accident insurance for certain jobs, including loan solicitors, credit card recruitment agents and relief drivers, whose numbers total 110,000 throughout the country.

#Korea #Mental_health #worker‘s_compensation