South Korea takes down website that maps its most fertile female citizens

#gender, #fertile_female_map, #lowest_birth_rate, #sexist_government_of_South_Korea

Feminist campaigners are not happy about the pink-coloured map

South Korea has taken down a website showing where its most fertile female citizens live within hours of it going live.

The pink-coloured map showed users where there were the most women aged 15 to 49 as part of the government’s drive to reverse a flagging birth rate.

But a storm of criticism led it to deactivate the site while it undergoes corrections. People had complained that it treated the birth rate as a problem that only related to women, because there were no pictures of men on the site.

Feminist campaigner Lee Min-kyung, 24, said: “I felt so angered that it blatantly showed how the government saw women’s bodies as the country’s reproductive tools.”

South Korean ministers said the website “was established to encourage local governments to learn and compare other governments’ benefits and to promote free competition”.

Users could also check what benefits local authorities could give them if they had a child, the average marriage age and other information.

The country has tried a number of methods to boost the birth rate, including cracking down on illegal abortions and turning off lights in office buildings early to encourage workers to head home.

South Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, significantly lower than it was 50 years ago. Officials fear a shrinking workforce will hit economic growth.


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Health ministry inspects clinics involved in scandal(Koreatimes)


#Private_clinic’s_usage_in_scandal ##cha_hospital_alleged_of_favor #SNUH_also_alleged #Korea’s_President_Park_Scandal #What_about_MoH_itself?


The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Friday began investigations into two clinics which have been allegedly linked to President Park Geun-hye’s scandal-ridden confidant Choi Soon-sil and also involved in suspicions about treatments for Park.

The ministry ordered the Gangnam Public Health Center to conduct inspections of the Gangnam-based Kim Young-jae Plastic Surgery Clinic and the anti-aging clinic Chaum, which are affiliated with the Cha Medical Group. Both clinics are known to have been frequented by Choi and members of her family since 2010.

The latest allegations are that Choi and her secretary were prescribed medications on behalf of the President. Park is also known to have visited the clinic as a lawmaker before becoming President. The medications have been reported as fatigue-relieving vitamin shots.

Prescribing medications to someone else on behalf of a patient is allowed only rarely.

The clinic denied the proxy prescription, saying the medications were for Choi, not Park. But a source at the hospital told local broadcaster JTBC that Choi wrote “Cheong Wa Dae” when she got the prescriptions.

There are suspicions that a doctor who was taking care of Choi at Chaum, surnamed Kim, was granted favors because he became one of the President’s medical advisors at the beginning of her term in 2013.

It is also alleged that the medical group benefited from the government: it was included in the economic delegations when the President visited China and Iran in 2015 and 2016. In addition, Cha Hospital was selected as a ministry hospital in charge of research, and received 19.2 billion won in funding.

The hospital denied the allegations about favors.

Kim, who left the hospital in 2014, reportedly said he did not know about Choi’s influence.

The Kim Young-jae Plastic Surgery Clinic was also frequented by Choi and her daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

The director surnamed Kim, who was a general practitioner and not a specialist, was appointed by Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) as a doctor for outpatient care, raising suspicions that he was granted the favor based on his acquaintance with Choi.

SNUH President Suh Chang-suk said Kim was appointed because a wealthy patient from China wanted treatment from Kim, but said he was dismissed as the patient did not come.

Suh served as the President’s doctor from September 2014 to February this year. Kim was made an outpatient doctor two months after Suh was appointed.

SNUH also supplied the thread used in Kim’s facelift procedures at its cosmetics surgery division.

Kim followed President Park on her overseas trips, as an executive of a medical appliances company owned by his wife.

Kim’s brother-in-law had the chance to promote his cosmetics company’s products on the President’s visit to France. Products of this company were provided as Park’s gifts for the Seollal holiday this year.

However, Suh said he did not know Choi.

Meanwhile, there have been rumors that the President, whose whereabouts for seven hours right after the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16, 2014, remain unclear, was receiving a procedure at Kim’s clinic.

The clinic denied that Kim performed the surgery, claiming he was out playing golf at the time. Cheong Wa Dae also officially denied the suspicion.

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Global institutions call South Korea a “climate villain”(hankyoreh)

#climate_change #Korea #ICCA #climate_vilain

Support for coal-fired power plants and abandonment of emission reduction targets cited as reasons for low assessment

South Korea has been named a leading “climate villain” for 2016 by institutions researching a response to global climate change.“Climate villains” is a term referring to countries that have been most irresponsible and negligent about responding to climate change.The Institute for Climate Change Action (ICCA), headed by Ahn Byeong-ok, announced on Nov. 6 that South Korea had been named alongside Saudi Arabia, Australia, and New Zealand as one of the world‘s four biggest climate villains on Nov. 4 by the climate change online news outlet Climate Home based on analytical findings from Climate Action Tracker (CAT). CAT is a consortium of independent research institutions jointly founded in 2009 by the three international climate change research agencies Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and NewClimate Institute. Every year, it tracks reduction activities in 32 major countries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and publishes analytical findings.Reasons given for South Korea’s inclusion as a climate villain included the steep rate of increase in its per capita greenhouse gas emissions, its financial support for coal-fired power plant exports, and its abandonment of greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020.“This isn’t the first time South Korea’s climate change response capabilities have been rated among the world‘s lowest,” said ICCA. “The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) for 2016 published on Dec. 8 of last year by the private institute German Watch and CAN Europe showed it ranking 54th among the 58 countries surveyed. It had fallen 23 spots in just five years, solidifying its image in the international community as a ’rogue climate state.‘”It’s an image that “is very likely to hurt national prestige and bring about monitoring and controls by the international community that are going to create difficulties in terms of foreign affairs and the economy,” ICCA added.“To overcome this situation and respond to the new climate regime, we‘re going to need to return climate change policy to its rightful place after all the backsliding under the Park Geun-hye administration,” it said.By Kim Jeong-soo, senior staff writer




Article from

Women in South Korea launch Polish-inspired pro-choice campaign to fully legalise abortion

#reproductive_right #mybodymychoice #prochoice_movement

South Korean pro-choice activists are demanding the full legalisation of abortion in the country.

Inspired by the Black Monday protests in Poland, a coalition of groups including Womad and Women’s online community union have started working together on a campaign calling for people to post pictures of themselves wearing black on social media and participating in Sunday gatherings in Seoul

All organisers and participants opt to remain anonymous, not showing their face in their social media posts, shared under the hashtags #blacksunday_korea, #mybodymychoice, covering their faces. A spokeswoman for the organising groups told IBTimes UK that they fear repercussions on their personal lives. In July, game company Nexon fired voice actress Jayeon Kim because she wore a t-shirt reading “girls do not need a prince”.

“I don’t need a hero. I need a friend.”
Star vs. the Forces of Evil EP08

“This shows that we are at risk of losing our jobs just for being feminist,” the spokeswoman said, adding that feminists have suffered sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and violation of privacy for demonstrating and postings pro-choice messages.

In South Korea, abortion is technically illegal. It is only allowed in case of serious illness, threats to the woman’s or the foetus’ life or rape, but only within the first 24 weeks. After that period, all abortions are banned. In 2012, the constitutional court voted to uphold the abortion ban that was put in place in 1953.

Yet, around 200,000 abortions are performed every year, only 5% of which are legal, highlighting the discrepancy between the widespread practice of abortion and its strict punishment under Korean law. A woman inducing an abortion through the use of drugs or other means is punishable with up to a year in jail or a KRW 2m (£1450, $1365) fine, but men are excluded from such punishment. Doctors found performing abortions face up to two years in prison.

South Korea pro-choice protestors
Pro-abortion demonstrators have organised Sunday gatherings in Seoul to demand the full legalisation of abortionSupplied to IBTimes UK

Following recent government attempts to strengthen punishment for doctors, South Korean activists decided it was time to take to the streets. “The Polish demonstration was so impressive it moved our hearts,” the spokeswoman said, explaining the motivation behind the protest. The South Korean activists adopted the Polish black protests’ symbol of the uterus giving the finger and the black dress code.

South Korea elected Park Geun-hye as its first female president in 2013. Asked whether having a woman in power will strengthen support for the pro-choice movement, she said: “We hope everyone will support and listen to our voice. Of course, we want Korean politicians to fight to complete abortion legalisation.”

Referring to the 2017 presidential election, she added: “Young women will consider candidates’ women’s policies as their first priority.”

South Korea pro-choice banner
A pro-choice demonstrator holds a rainproof banner in the black Sunday protest in Seoulsupplied to IBTimes UK

[Statement] Another methanol poisoning accidents identified in the SAMSUNG supply chain

#Methanol_poisoning #Samsung #subacontract_labor #Solidarity_for_Workers_Health
8 methanol poisoning accidents identified during last 2 years.
Who is responsible and who can make them responsible?

SEOUL, South Korea, October 17, 2016 – According to Solidarity for Workers` Health (here in after SWH), two more occupational accidents related to methanol poisoning were recently reported in the SAMSUNG Electronics’ supply chain.
A 29-year-old male worker surnamed Kim who was dispatched to DuckyongENG, a subcontractor for SAMSUNG, showed signs of blindness on February 24, 2015. Also, on January 16, 2016, another 35-year-old male worker surnamed Cheon working for BKTech, which is also a subcontractor for SAMSUNG, showed the symptoms of blindness on the way back home from work. He was taken to a nearby hospital on the following day, however he lost his sight in his right eye, and most vision in his left eye. Both of the victims have only recently realized that their accidents are deeply concerned with the methanol poisoning, thus decided to report their cases to SWH.
Methanol can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, sight loss and even death. Ethanol is recommended over methanol because it is less toxic, but ethanol costs three times more.
Both of the workers were responsible for the process related to CNC equipment. The CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machine is a tool capable of processing and scaling metal materials to a previously input value. The CNC equipment used by the victims is a cutting tool that cuts according to previously input levels. The machine maintains refined control while carving aluminum metal, thus, was used to produce a large amount of mobile phone parts.
Both of the victims worked in the process of producing mobile phone parts using the aforementioned CNC equipment; methanol was used as cutting oil in this machinery. The cutting oil was used when cutting metal materials, to have the blade cooled and lubricated so as to remain clean and, thus, extend the life of the machine overall. The CNC equipment used by the victims had a hose that automatically sprayed the cutting oil to the blade. As a result, a high concentration (99.9%) of methanol was continuously sprayed while the machine was in operation.
There remains “high possibility” of the existence of
unidentified victims.
Including these newly reported 2 cases aforementioned, up to date a total of 8 methanol poisoning accidents which were concerned with CNC process in the electronic industry supply chain have been identified to the public. All of these accidents occurred during the past two years. According to industrial health doctors, this is unprecedented; they are saying that these kinds of occupational accidents like the methanol poisoning had been disappeared long ago in the early 20th Century.
What is even more shocking is that there remains high possibility that more victims who might be diagnosed with acute methanol poisoning caused by the exposure while working in the CNC process have not been identified yet.When a series of accidents occurred in February, 2016, the Ministry of Employment and Labor conducted an inspection over all the factories in which methanol was used. After the inspection, the Ministry announced that there is no more poisoning case in the workplace. However, these accidents aforementioned have not been identified by the Ministry at that time, which shows that the announcement is unreliable. Also, according to Kim, one of his colleagues also having trouble with the eye vison did not report his case to the Ministry.
A press conference was held at the National Assembly on October 12, 2016. “I came forward because I hope there will be no more victims like me,” Kim said at the press conference. Also, Cheon said, “I haven`t heard how dangerous my work was.”
메탄올 실명 추가 피해자 - 국회기자회견 사진.jpg
SAMSUNG, a prime contractor should take the responsibility for the methanol poisoning in its supply chain.
treatment methods for methanol. The workers neither received notifications of the substance’s danger nor had on-board orientation regarding the danger of their work. In addition, the workers never saw a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) during the course of their employment.
NGOs argue that SAMSUNG, a prime contractor should take the responsibility for the methanol poisoning in its entire supply chain. Specifically, they urge SAMSUNG should directly monitor not only the first tier subcontractors but also the second and third tier ones.
However, SAMSUNG has not officially assumed any responsibility for the occupational injuries of its subcontract workers. So far, SAMSUNG does not recognize the responsibility to directly monitor its second and third tier subcontractors, saying that it is ‘impossible’ for prime contractors to inspect all subcontractors, because there are too many. Moreover, SAMSUNG insists that it is capable of monitoring only first tier subcontractors, whom they have a direct contract, not subcontractors behind the first tier.
This argument obviously goes against what the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights (hereinafter UNGP) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises say about the responsibility of prime contractors in the supply chain. The right to work in a safe environment is fundamental and significant, which should be enjoyed by all workers irrespective of the tier of their workplace in the supply chain or whether they are directly employed or dispatched.
Victims and NGOs have already submitted the LETTER OF ALLEGATION to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights last June, arguing that SAMSUNG, one of the respondents, has abandoned its responsibility of monitoring the violations of occupational safety and health stemming from its subcontractors beyond the second tier in the supply chain, which constitutes the violation of the UNGP. NGOs are going to provide updated information about the two newly identified accidents to the UNWorking Group.
More information 
1. Samsung, LG subcontract wokers, blinded by methanol intoxication (youtube)
2. Methanol poisoning victims speak out(koreaherald)
3. Infringement of the Right to Health for Laborers in Samsung and LG Electronics’ Supply Chain Operations


Statment released from Solidarity for Worker’s Health :

Campaign against medicine monopolies

“UNAIDS reports that only a third of the people in the Asia and Pacific region who need HIV treatment currently have access. If RCEP countries agree to elevated IP protection in RCEP, this figure could likely increase.”

“We call on all negotiating governments to reject all TRIPS plus measures in the RCEP. In particular we call upon wealthier countries such as South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to resist pressing for IP provisions that threaten access to medicines for the world’s poor.”

sign here to support the campaign

hospital workers strike against merit pay system

“Hospital workers strike against merit pay system”

…”Since it is tricky to quantify performance at hospitals, workers say they will be measured based on medical fees they generate, which will motivate them to make patients undergo unnecessary tests and treatments. They could also charge fees for services which were originally free, or buy low quality medical supplies in order to reduce costs, which will negatively affect patients.

“Performance-based pay will make institutions, which exist for the public, operate according to capitalism. This will result in squeezing money out of patients or only treating patients who need expensive treatments ― hospitals will forget their duty and become commercialized,” the leaders said.”…

Everyday 13.6 Children Are Abandoned Due to Abusive Parents and Poverty

#abondoned_child #economic_hardship  #unemployment #poverty #Korea
Bak (7) was entrusted to a welfare facility in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi-do early this year. His father abandoned him after losing his job, divorcing his wife, and suffering from economic burdens. Currently, Bak has lost contact with his father. His father left saying, “I’ll return when I make a lot of money,” but so far he has not once visited him.

The number of children abandoned due to their parents’ unemployment, abuse and poverty is increasing.

On September 6, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that the number of children protected by the state or social groups, because they could not receive care at home was 4,975 last year. This means that 13.63 children are being abandoned by their parents every day. A closer look according to regions shows that the most number of children were abandoned in Seoul (1,480), followed by Gyeonggi-do (682), Gangwon-do (335), Incheon (280), and Jeollanam-do (268). The biggest reason children were abandoned was because of abuse (1,094 cases). Other reasons included parental divorce (1,070), single mothers (930), and the parents’ poverty and unemployment.

In the case of Gyeonggi-do, the number of abandoned children aged six or younger increased nearly six-fold in the past three years from eleven in 2013 to 37 in 2014, and 64 in 2015. The majority of these children were secretly abandoned by their parents. The number of children secretly abandoned by their parents was ten in 2013, 33 in 2014, and 61 in 2015. The number of children who were lost (lost but never reunited with their parents) was one in 2013, four in 2014 and three in 2015.

The number of children requiring protection from the provincial districts and not the home due to their parents’ abuse, divorce, or because they were born to a single mother increased by 24 during the same period: 658 in 2013, 689 in 2014, and 682 in 2015. The children who were secretly abandoned by their parents accounted for 1.7% of the children requiring care in 2013, but their percentage increased every year to 4.7% in 2014 and 10.4% in 2015. More than half of the children requiring protection go to a childcare and protection facility and the number of children in the care of foster homes is relatively small. Among the 682 children requiring protection last year, 57 returned to their parents, but 390 out of the remaining 625 children went to a facility and 235 were put in the care of foster homes.

Experts point out that this phenomenon is the result of moral corruption and the collapse of social values. One representative of a child protection facility said, “Most of the parents are still alive, and the children are being abandoned because of their divorce. Such behavior is seen because of the moral corruption of the overall society as well as their parents and because of the collapse of social values.” She added, “It is important to prevent children from being abandoned, but we also need drastic measures to protect those that are.”

Young South Koreans say they don’t want their children to inherit their kind of life(Hankyoreh)

Young South Koreans say they don’t want their children to inherit their kind of life

Young people gathered on Aug. 31 at the Future Office at Seoul Innovation Park, located in the Eunpyeong District of Seoul, to share their candid opinions about South Korea’s low birthrate with a group of South Korean lawmakers.

#downsizing_population #low_birthrate #Korea

At meeting to discuss low birthrate, young people argue that gov’t needs a careful look at why young people are not getting married or having children

“I don’t want my children to inherit the kind of life I’m leading right now.” –Kwon Ji-woong, chair of the steering committee of the Seoul Youth Policy NetworkAround a dozen young people gathered on Aug. 31 at the Future Office at Seoul Innovation Park, located in the Eunpyeong District of Seoul, to share their candid opinions about South Korea’s low birthrate with a group of South Korean lawmakers.

The lawmakers are members of a National Assembly research forum that aims to find ways for lawmakers to help South Korean society overcome its extremely low birthrate.Rep. Yang Seung-jo and Rep. Kim Jeong-woo, both lawmakers with the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, and Yun So-ha, a lawmaker with the opposition Justice Party, organized the meeting to hear from young people – the people who are, or rather aren’t, having children – about how to fix the low birthrate.

“A low birthrate is a statement by the majority of the members of a society that they do not want to perpetuate their current way of life. It amounts to a society deciding to commit suicide,” said Kwon, who is 28, during the meeting.

“Rather than trying to figure out how to encourage people to have children, we need to start with the question of how we can make people consider their lives as being worth living.”

“For structural reasons, young people who are able to enjoy the normal lives enjoyed by our parents’ generation – of dating, marrying and having children – are becoming a minority. Government policy should also begin by acknowledging the reality that young people are joining the work force later and are disinclined to get married, rather than demanding young people to get a job as soon as they graduate and to get married once they reach a certain age,” Kwon suggested.

Lim Gyeong-ji, 28, chair of the Min Snail Union, says lack of housing for young people is a reason for the low birthrate.“Since young people have low incomes and have to pay rent, it’s not very likely that they will be able to save enough money to buy a house. Instead of always coming up with supply- and loan-focused housing policies that promote home ownership, we need policies that can provide a stable lifestyle even for people who remain tenants their whole life and never manage to buy a house,” Lim said.

“Not long ago, the new chairman of the Korea Student Aid Foundation said that debt is what motivates people to work hard. But the reality is that young people face so much pressure to pay back their debts that it’s hard for them to picture a normal future,” said Han Yeong-seop, 36, director of the Youth Money Habit Training Center.

Han argues that the fact that a significant number of young people are going into debt to cover the cost of university tuition, housing, and living expenses is the main reason that they are putting off or even giving up on marriage and children.

“I’m over 30, and I’m dating someone, but even I’m still not sure whether I should get married. Rather than going on about how the low birthrate is a problem, the government and politicians need to take a careful look at why young people are not getting married or having children,” Han said.

The three lawmakers who organized the meeting said they will listen carefully to the difficulties that are actually faced by young people in a low-birthrate society and will attempt to address those difficulties through government policy. They added that they believe that this meeting should be taken as an opportunity not to simply say that Koreans need to have more children but to look at the structural problems in South Korean society.

By Hwangbo Yon, staff reporter


Original article from:

Housing costs burden young women living alone(Koreaherald)

#single_household #housing_cost #Korea


Women in their 20s and 30s who make up single households in Seoul voluntarily decided to live alone, mostly because they sought freedom and convenient commutes. However, they often find themselves weighed down by housing expenses, data showed Tuesday.

According to a survey by the Seoul Foundation of Women and Family in June, 87.8 percent of respondents in the 20-39 age group said they chose independent lifestyles out of their own free will, while 65.1 percent cited the need to shorten commutes.

On the other hand, the older generation was more driven by factors such as separation with their spouses, either by death or divorce, living separately from their grown-up children and family discords.

Among the 500 respondents of the 40-59 age group, 55.6 percent said that they started to live alone due to family splits. The corresponding figure was much higher for those 60 and above, at 92.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 74.2 percent of those who make up single households in their 20s and 30s said they faced the financial burden of housing costs.