Category: Minority Health

[Reportage] The human toll of an era that uses the impoverished as disposable commodities(hankyoreh)

“Foreign nationals accounted for nine of the 195 people who died without surviving family or friends at Incheon Medical Center between 2001 and 2017. Their deaths offer a glimpse at an era where the world takes advantage of cheap labor by impoverished people. The global migrations of workers, fragmenting of national identity, and relationship between death and a life of poverty are faintly visible in the last marks these people left on the world when they passed away.”

#Globalization #migration #labor

Original Article from https://bit.ly/2HS45St


Migrant workers sacrifice for a society they will never truly become a part of

Migrant workers gather in front of Jongno Tower in Seoul on World Migrant Workers’ Day, Dec. 18, 2003, to commemorate those killed during the government’s forced deportation crackdown that year. At the far left is a photo of Burkhon, an Uzbek man who died in 2003. (by Kim Jin-su, staff photographer)
Foreign nationals accounted for nine of the 195 people who died without surviving family or friends at Incheon Medical Center between 2001 and 2017. Their deaths offer a glimpse at an era where the world takes advantage of cheap labor by impoverished people. The global migrations of workers, fragmenting of national identity, and relationship between death and a life of poverty are faintly visible in the last marks these people left on the world when they passed away. For the first time, the Hankyoreh is giving voices to the people who put food on our tables, operate our factories, and sustain our day-to-day lives – without ever becoming “one of us.”
My name is Burkhon
I, an Uzbek man who died in 2003 at the age of 50, died on the “outside” from the rest of you. Unable to cross over among you while I was alive, I was forced to roam the outside even after I died, unable to come to rest in your city.Do spirits make a sound? A dog was loudly barking off to one corner of the darkening lumber factory in the Songhyeon neighborhood of Incheon’s Dong (East) district. While I was alive, I was always treated with wariness. I was rejected, policed, hunted. Even after I passed away, I flinched and shrank each time the city growled.
I am the abused
The factory boss came out of the container box office to quiet the dog. Fifteen years have passed, but the boss – now 46 – is still younger than I was when I died. That winter [in 2003], I had come to the lumber factory because I did not know where else to go. Having lost my job in a strange city, the only place I could turn was the factory where my nephew worked.
I was driven out when the South Korean government launched a large-scale crackdown [tracking down and expelling unregistered migrant workers during the adoption of an employment permit system in place of the “industry trainee system” that had been criticized as a “slave training system” since its 1993 implementation]. No sooner had they announced that employers would also be punished for the illegal hiring of foreign nationals than the company [not the lumber factory] forced me to pack my bags. Four months after arriving that July on a tourist visa, I had lost my place of residence and become a fugitive.
The boss opened the door to a bathroom fashioned from a container box. Now as old as the number of years since my passing [the lumber factory relocated to its current location a few months after Burkhon’s death], it seemed about to crumble in its old age the way I had crumbled similarly. The factory was still there, but it was not the same. Lumber was sparse in the factory yard. There were no after-hours volumes, no overtime work. I could not see any non-Korean workers; only a few of the Korean workers were older than I was at the time [all 60 years or older].
The hunting dog followed the scent. Whenever I trembled in fear of being hunted down for being an illegal alien, I heard the sound of barking. Sometimes the noise of the city and the muttering of people that surrounded me in this land whose language I did not speak sounded like a wild beast hidden in the forest. I came to South Korea at the age of 50 after giving US$5,000 to a broker in Samarkand [a city in central Uzbekistan]. If I returned without paying back my debt, my family and I would have no present, let alone a future. Carrying my luggage, I visited the factories where my Uzbek friends were working, but I was unable to find any work for myself.
When I returned to this factory a week after they rejected my application for work, my nephew’s friend reminded me of what the factory boss had said: “We can’t use illegal aliens right now. I can’t even let them into the factory dormitory.”
I was not allowed “inside,” and it was so cold “outside.” Even worse, it was frightening. I told my nephew’s friend I would go back to Uzbekistan the next day and then turned to go. The time-worn door to the bathroom creaked every time it moved, as if marked by memories from 15 years ago. There was an acrid smell in the bathroom from the gas emitted by a heater left on to keep the pipes from bursting. Both then and now, the bathroom was too shabby to be someone’s last place on earth.
After ten days of being chased from place to place [2 am on Nov. 25, 2003], I died in this bathroom. My body was found by the factory workers, hanging from a rope I had attached to the bathroom door. A crumpled plane ticket that I had been fidgeting with for several days turned up in my crumpled clothing.
I was the fourth person to kill himself around the time of the crackdown. The other three were already waiting for me in the spirit world. Darka, a 31-year-old Sri Lankan man, threw himself onto the train tracks on Nov. 11 out of despair for no longer being able to send money to cover his ailing mother’s medical bills.Bikku, a 34-year-old Bangladeshi man, hung himself on Nov. 12. Still owing 4 million won (US$3,700) of the 10 million won (US$9,300) loan he had taken out when he came to South Korea with his younger sibling, he decided it would be better to die in South Korea. Andrei, a 37-year-old Russian man, jumped into the sea on a ship bound for Vladivostok that he had been placed aboard after being apprehended in the crackdown.
My poor family could not afford to bring me home. With the help of some Koreans, including Yang Hye-u, then-director of the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center, who had been granted power of attorney by fax, my body was embalmed by students doing a practicum for a degree in mortuary science and loaded in the cargo container of a plane. Ten days into the crackdown, the government announced its “progress”: 1,233 people rounded up and 606 people deported. Two days after my funeral, it launched a second round of the crackdown on Dec. 8.
After coming out of the bathroom, the boss looked up at the red sky. I didn’t die in this bathroom because I resented him for not giving me work. There was just nowhere else where I could die. In the words of the boss, this was a time when “immigration agents were sweeping every factory and rounding up foreigners every day.” After I died, my nephew and his colleagues all left the factory. The boss, who must think of me every time he goes into that bathroom, might even miss that time “when business was going pretty well.” Since I hung myself in the bathroom, I have decayed along with the door, but I’m still unable to go inside the factory.

A bathroom inside the Incheon lumber factory where Burkhon killed himself in 2003. Although 15 years have passed, the appearance remains the same. (by Lee Moon-young, staff reporter)

Am I a person or a thing?
An ambulance took me, a 38-year-old ethnic Korean from China, who died in March 2003, from a factory 2.2km away from the rusted bathroom to an emergency room for respiratory paralysis and hypoxic brain injury. Born in a village of ethnic Koreans in the city of Shenyang, in China’s Liaoning Province, I worked at a factory in the Dohwa neighborhood of the Nam (South) District next to an elevated highway in this city. The company boss cut off contact with me without paying my hospital bills, saying that times were tough. A foreman at the factory ducked responsibility, too, claiming he couldn’t do anything because he hadn’t heard from the boss.
I’m a person, but I was “imported” like a product. And once I lost my utility, I was disregarded like a useless thing. My older brother didn’t have the money to pay for my internment. Since he was illiterate, a friend filled out the form on his behalf, promising to pay the hospital bill later, when he got the money. It wasn’t until a month after I died that I was sent to the crematorium.
I was one of nine foreigners who have died in this city without any next of kin. Foreigners accounted for nine of 195 people who died without any connections at the Incheon Metropolitan City Medical Center between 2001 and 2017.
I had been told that this city that was organized according to the needs of the powerful countries that forced Korea to open up two centuries before was called Incheon. Japan, Qing China, the US, the UK, Germany, Russia and France set up international settlements there.
Now when I die alone in this city, I am either a descendant of those who settled there at that time (two overseas Taiwanese, one Chinese national), a person with a Korean identity who came to the motherland only to be treated as a foreigner (one ethnic Korean in China) or a migrant worker from a poor and weak country (one Uzbek, one Mongolian, one Nepalese, one Burmese and one Ugandan].
Why am I – a person whose manner of death speaks to the hardship of my life – always from “those countries”? Why is it only people from those countries who die as “foreigners without connections” in this city?As of the end of 2016, there were 59,103 foreigners registered as living in Incheon: 25,665 (43.4%) from China, 6,536 (11.0%) from Vietnam, 2,852 (4.8%) from the Philippines, 2,609 (4.4%) from Taiwan, 2,047 (3.4%) from Indonesia, 1,920 (3.2%) from Thailand and 1,010 (1.7%) from Bangladesh. Why am I never from the US (998, 1.6%), Japan (913, 1.5%)or the UK or Canada (272, 0.4%)?Why do they still call me a “foreign son-of-a-bitch” when I take on the hardest labor to keep the city’s factories running? (12,056, or 20.3%, are in Namdong District, the location of Namdong Industrial Park; 11,627, or 19.6% are in Seo District, the location of Geomdan Industrial Park and the lumber center; and 10,933, or 18.4%, are in Bupyeong District, the location of Bupyeong Industrial Park.)
I, a 51-year-old Taiwanese national in the Chinese diaspora, died in 2011 without belonging to anything. Born in the Chinese city of Dalian, my father came to this city in 1939, at the age of 16. When his country was divided between the mainland and the island, he chose the island. His five sons and daughters were all born in South Korea and spent their entire lives there, but we all remained Taiwanese, just like our father. My ancestors had settled in this city as subjects of the treaty signatory (Qing dynasty China) more than two centuries before.With the passage of time, confusion about Chinese nationals, Taiwanese nationals and Chinese in the overseas community, some of whom had retained their original nationality and some who had naturalized, left blind spots in South Korea’s laws and institutions. As the second son, I was the only one of my siblings to complete middle school. The only identity I clung to was my poverty. When I died, the only member of my family who heard the news was my older brother, and he declined to take responsibility for my body. He lived on the streets.
I, a 58-year-old overseas Chinese man with Taiwanese nationality who died in 2015, lived on the streets, too. I died surrounded by a terrible stench. This stench was an intangible wall that divided two worlds. I was taken to a hospital for hypoxic brain injury from the second basement level of the parking garage at a department store in the Gwangyo neighborhood of the Nam (South) District.I was disturbed by the fragrance of mouthwatering food wafting down from the first basement level, while the imported fragrances on the first floor were beautiful enough to conceal even the rank odor of my body. I couldn’t remember why I had gone there – whether because of the hunger or the cold. I spent my life with Korean homeless people around Incheon Munhak Stadium and crawled between two cars parked at the department store to die. The cheers rising from the stadium were so loud, and the laughter filling the department store was so bright. The stench of the street on my body brought scowls to the faces of customers, which confirmed that this was a world I could not enter.
I’m an employee of the world
While I, a 40-year-old Nepalese man who died in 2011, was living on the streets in Seoul, I heard about a free restaurant (the Dandelion Noodle Shop in the Hwasu neighborhood of Dong District) from an old man named Jang and followed him to Incheon. I came to South Korea in the early 1990s to make money. As an industrial trainee, but I came down with a heart condition. After getting sick, I couldn’t find any more work, nor could I return home with a disease instead of money.Every time Koreans were amazed to see this big, dark-skinned Nepalese homeless man, I grew a little bigger, and my skin became a little darker. I was lucky to lie down in a room with the help from the owner of the noodle restaurant before I became as large as a “black dinosaur.” I died “with a slight smile on my face and earphones in my ears one night after I came back from seeing some friends,” in the words of Seo Yeong-nam, owner of Dandelion Noodle Shop.
Instead of being loaded on a plane bound for Nepal, my body was reduced to ashes in this city. I had no home to return to. After I got sick in South Korea, lost my job and couldn’t wire any money, my relatives back home whose livelihood rested on my shoulders scattered in all directions.
I died without being able to escape the yoke of cheap labor. I, a Burmese man who died a violent death in 2013, joined the crew of a South Korean ship at the age of 60. Seven months later, my dead body was brought back to dry land. I, a 28-year-old Mongolian man, died in a traffic accident on the street in front of a vocational school [in 2013] and was sent to my younger sibling who worked in Paju, in Gyeonggi Province.I have been employed in all countries for cheap wages. South Korea, a major destination of migrant workers, has long opened its doors to migrant workers from around the world. My death occurred during that process, and my homeless life was “globalized” on that road. (“Since 2010, the number of foreigners visiting the noodle shop has greatly increased and their nationalities have also become more varied, including Chile, Brazil and India,” said Seo Yeong-nam.)
I have continued to die. Filled with despair over Burkhon’s death, I went to Myeongdong Cathedral with other migrant workers and held a sit-in there for 380 days (Nov. 15, 2003, to Nov. 28, 2004), but there was no end to the dying. I fell to my death when trying to jump to the roof of the next building to escape immigration agents. I died along with Nur Fuad, an Indonesian, when a fire broke out at a foreigner detention center in Yeosu and the staff didn’t open the doors (in total, 10 Chinese, ethnic Koreans, and Uzbeks in 2007 perished in the blaze.)
As I awaited my deportation, I killed myself by shooting myself in the head 33 times with a nail gun (Nguyen Van Thanh, Vietnamese, in 2008). I was asphyxiated while cleaning up pig feces without any safety equipment (four people from Nepal, China and Thailand in 2017), and I killed myself out of despair over a system that kept me from changing jobs without my boss’s consent (Keshav Shrestha, Nepalese, in 2017 – this is one of the most notorious problems with the employment permit system).In the city of Incheon, I worked in all areas of migrant labor. In the words of Kim Ki-dong, former secretary-general of the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center, “Incheon is a microcosm of the migrant situation in South Korea.”In this city, I ploughed the fields (agricultural migrant labor), raised cattle (livestock migrant labor), sailed on ships (shipping crew migrant labor) and worked in factories (manufacturing migrant labor). Without my work, your tables would not be set, your cities would lack amenities and even the reproduction of your families and nation (immigrant spouses) would be in danger. Even though I sustain your daily lives, I’ve never been welcome in your country. There’s always an unyielding line before of my feet over which I’m not allowed to cross.
I’m Burkhon.
Even after becoming a ghost, I’m still trapped outside of you.
By Lee Moon-young, staff reporter

Doctor’s plea: ‘Don’t crack down on foreign TB patients'(TheKoreaTimes)

* Korea has the highest incidence rate of TB among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2014, South Korea marked a TB incidence rate of 86 patients per 100,000, seven times higher than the average rate of the developed nations.

* A reporter and the doctor’s narrative being racist enough, but the doctor from  Korean Institute of Tuberculosis’ program claims that treatment of foreign TB patient is necessary and desirable.

#Foreign_patient #Tuberculosis #Korea

Image result for korea tb foreigners


Original Article from: https://bit.ly/2qRES2o
Over 2,000 foreigners are taking advantage of free tuberculosis (TB) treatment, eating away at taxpayers’ money, but cracking down on them is not the answer, a doctor has told The Korea Times.

“If you pursue those freeloaders, they would go underground and run the higher risk of spreading the disease,” Oh Kyung-hyun, head of the state-run Korean Institute of Tuberculosis’ program cooperation department, said. “So treating them at our expense is better for our national health.”

TB is a contagious disease, the treatment of which is 100 percent covered by the government, even if the person does not subscribe to national health insurance.

Korea has the highest rate of TB among the rich OECD member nations.

Foreigners accounted for 6 percent of patients in 2017, 0.5 percent down from the previous year, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). They include long-term resident foreigners who pay medical insurance and those on short-term visas who don’t.

The ratio has risen from 2.4 percent in 2011 to 6.54 percent in 2016.

The bulk of newly diagnosed patients are older people, who accounted for 41.9 percent last year, up 2 percent from the previous year.

The KCDC said it is establishing a new TB control plan for 2018 to 2022, targeting vulnerable groups including foreigners and the elderly.

Under the current policy, foreigners on tourist visas do not need to submit a medical certificate to enter the country. They can get free TB treatment in national hospitals.

Those who visit the country for more than 90 days need to pay health insurance for three months period in advance.

“The issue of foreigners getting free treatment needs to be dealt with at a bilateral level between the Korean government and other countries, where the patients come from,” the doctor said.

 

 

Bills seek better definition of rape(The Korea Times)

“United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) called on Seoul to revise the definition of rape.”

“However, society should start talks to define the meaning of yes and no. Koreans have never discussed what mutual consent in a sexual relationship is, which has led to many violent situations between partners,”

#sexual_violence  #rape_definition #women_trafficking_culture #Korea

Original Article from:  https://goo.gl/Rkvrcm


 

Protesters take part in a street parade in central Seoul, March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. / Yonhap

By Choi Ha-young

Following a series of #MeToo claims here, politicians are competitively creating bills aimed at preventing sexual crimes and strengthening criminal punishment for assailants. Among them, some to feature revising the definition of rape in existing criminal law that rape should involve “violence or intimidation.”

Based on the definition, local courts have acquitted some alleged rapists citing a lack of violence. To prove that the violence or intimidation made the victim unable to resist, victims were required to attempt to resist to the bitter end ― which could put their lives at stake.

Last month, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) called on Seoul to revise the definition of rape. “Amend article 297 of the Criminal Code so as to place the lack of free consent of the victim at the centre of the definition,” a report published by CEDAW reads.

The most powerful bill that echoes the point is the one created by Rep. Kang Chang-il of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Rep. Kang’s bill replaced “violence and intimidation” with “without clear consent of counterpart.”

“So far, whether the victim protested against the assailant or not has been the center of the allegation, which has caused secondary damage for the victims,” the lawmaker said in the revision bill.

Conservative lawmakers also joined the move.

Rep. Lee Hag-jae of the minor center-right Bareun Mirae Party is drawing up a similar bill. Instead of using the term “rape and sexual molestation,” the bill proposed using “invasion of rights to self-determination over sexuality.” The envisioned change aims to highlight individuals’ rights to make independent choices.

Rep. Lee also offered to revise the definition of rape ― “having sexual relations with another without consent.”

Another bill submitted by Rep. Hong Chul-ho of the Liberty Korea Party defined rape as a sexual relation that involves “violation or intimidation” or actions “against someone’s will.”

These bills are commonly based on the idea of “yes means yes, no means no” as do laws in Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

According to the report published by the National Assembly Research Service, Germany previously required “violation and intimidation” as a legal condition of rape. After the revision was made in November 2016, Germany defines rape as a “sexual relation against victims’ expression.” Sweden is also pushing for revision bills to stipulate “without consent” instead of “violation and intimidation,” the report reads.

The tricky issue is “what does yes mean?” In Korea, where the influence of Confucianism remains dominant, women are required to stay “pure and chaste,” said Hongik University Law Professor Spiritas Cho.

Such cultural inclinations are palpable in love scenes in K-dramas. When they fall in love, men are supposed to lead the relationships ― sometimes using force ― while women are reluctant to be courted. Female characters who initially refused to kiss male characters end up agreeing. This is not a matter of gender, considering many screenwriters of such dramas are women.

In this respect, Cho said the revision of the laws should accompany a fundamental shift in our approach to sexuality. “Women must be able to express their sexuality and their sexual desires freely and clearly, not to be ostracized for that socially and culturally,” Cho said.

Still, negative comments are flooding online communities regarding the bid to revise the criminal law. When Minister of Gender Equality and Family Chung Hyun-back indicated her agreement with such a revision, some netizens sarcastically commented: “Now couples should exchange written contracts.”

Lee Mi-kyeong, director of Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, who provided advice in designing Kang’s bill, admitted the envisioned changes would bring some confusion for a while.

“However, society should start talks to define the meaning of yes and no. Koreans have never discussed what mutual consent in a sexual relationship is, which has led to many violent situations between partners,” Lee said.

“It’s time to reflect on our attitudes and make efforts to respect each other,” she noted.

[Big Data on Suicide Unveiled for the First Time] People at Risk of Suicide Lived in Poor Housing Conditions (kyung-hyang)

#Suicide #SDH  #housing #Korea #Public_View

“…the latest research confirmed that housing environment had a significant impact on suicides. Regardless of the geographical location, there were many people at risk of suicide people who had contemplated suicide among those paying a monthly rent for houses smaller than 66m2.”

 

 

South Korea’s suicide rate is among the highest in the world. Since 2003, more than 10,000 people took their own lives every year, granting South Korea with the disgraceful title of the number one country in suicides among the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Last year, 28.7 people per every 100,000 of the population committed suicide, widening the gap with second place Japan (18.7).

It now seems possible to identify areas where people at risk of suicide mostly reside using numbers, such as the population, geographical information and past suicide statistics. If we concentrate on areas at high risk based on this data, we may be able to prevent a considerable number of suicides.

On September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, Public View, a nonprofit research network, released a 2017-2018 map to prevent and respond to people at risk of suicide. This map categorized seventeen metropolitan cities and provinces, 252 si, gun and gus, and 3,491 eup, myeon, and dongs into five levels (A-E), according to the percentage of people at risk of suicide. The area with the highest risk was labeled A and among the metropolitan cities and provinces, the Seoul metropolitan area including Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, and Incheon fit in this category. The proportion of people at risk of suicide decreased outside large cities, but there was a big difference among eup, myeon and dong within the provinces and larger cities.

After surveying 4,500 people nationwide and analyzing the distribution of actual suicide victims by region over the past decade, the latest research confirmed that housing environment had a significant impact on suicides. Regardless of the geographical location, there were many people at risk of suicide people who had contemplated suicide among those paying a monthly rent for houses smaller than 66m2. This means that socio-economic factors, as well as psychological problems like depression, stress, and anger are the main cause of suicide.

In the northern part of Seoul, there were many people in their twenties and thirties who were at high risk, while below the Hangang River, people aged 35-44 were the main people at risk. In Gangwon-do, Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeonggi-do, people in their forties and fifties were at high risk while in Jeju-do, people in their forties and sixties were at high risk of suicide.

Experts point out that to reduce the number of suicides, the government needs to analyze the characteristics and distribution of people at risk and link this to welfare and housing policies. In Japan, stronger responses in connection with the local community have been effective in reducing the suicide rate by 30% over ten years. Choi Jeong-muk, the deputy director of the Local Government Data Research Institute, a member of Public View, which organized the latest research, said, “We were able to identify the status of areas where more people at high risk of suicide lived in with the geographical data. We should be able to effectively increase the infrastructure necessary to respond to and prevent suicide.”

원문보기:
http://english.khan.co.kr/khan_art_view.html?artid=201709111739357&code=710100#csidxfd4c0dacb86ec93aced2853d4e81933 

More people in Seoul living in “residentially vulnerable” conditions (hankyoreh)

#Social_determinant_of_health #Housing #Seoul #vulnerable_accomodation_rising #youth_and_eldery #inequality

While more people being pushed into residentially vulnerable conditions, it is known that people living in these “miscellaneous” accommodations experience higher unmet medical need which leads to lower quality of life and subjective status, and also more prevalence of suicide.


A gosiwon (a small room in a cramped boarding house)

Report finds that housing situation in the capital is particularly poor for youth and the elderly

Last year, more than 70,000 households in Seoul fell into the category of the “residentially vulnerable,” which means they are living in cramped boarding houses called “gosiwon,” public bathhouses, or on the streets, new government figures show.

Figures from a census by Statistics Korea released on Sept. 10 show that 209,486 households were living in non-traditional housing last year, out of a total of 3,784,705 households living in Seoul. Non-traditional housing includes office-apartment combinations called “officetels” (129,152 households), hospitality establishments including hotels and motels (2,219), dormitories and other special social facilities (3,999) and shacks and greenhouses (1,976).

According to the census, 72,140 of the households living in non-traditional housing were staying in “miscellaneous” accommodations. Most of these people are moving between gosiwon and public bathhouses or are staying in their self-owned restaurants. The number of households whose accommodations were classified as “miscellaneous” was recorded as 69,870 in the 2015 population survey, representing an increase of 2,270 households over the past year.

The percentage of residentially vulnerable households actually increased from the previous year. The total number of households living in Seoul last year grew by just over 200 from the previous year (3,784,490), which means that the increase in the number of the residentially vulnerable was relatively large. The number of Seoul households living in traditional housing (a category including houses and apartments) last year was 3,575,219, which was actually down from the year before (3,590,265).The increase in the number of residentially vulnerable households living in Seoul last year appears to have been due to population aging and to the rise in the number of people living alone. The largest age group among households in the miscellaneous category was 15 to 19 years old (35.7%), followed by 20 to 24 years old (16.7%) and 60 to 64 years old (11.4%). This implies that the housing environment is particularly poor for the youth and the elderly.

Another factor responsible for the increasing number of households in miscellaneous housing is the fact that the economic downturn has created more small business owners. Business owners who live in their workplace without having a house of their own are also included in the “miscellaneous” category.

“The statistics for the miscellaneous housing category can’t be subdivided any further, but our understanding is that a considerable number of these households are small business owners who live in their place of business,” said an official from Statistics Korea.

 

By Noh Hyun-woong, staff reporter

original article from: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/810532.html

Widow sues National Pension Service, Suwon City over husband’s death (Hankyoreh)

#conditional_beneficiary’s_death #unrealistic_working_capacity_assessment #basic_livelihood_benefit #Korea

 

“It was the country that killed him.”

“A conditional beneficiary cannot receive part or any of livelihood benefits unless he or she fulfills certain conditions for rehabilitation, such as obtaining employment.”

“It is the first lawsuit holding the state accountable for the death of a social welfare beneficiary.”

 


Kwak Hye-sook, the widow of Choi In-ki, holds a photo of her deceased husband while speaking at the MINBYUN office in the Seocho neighborhood of Seoul on Aug. 30. (Ko Han-sol, staff reporter)

Choi In-ki had lost his government assistance despite having a serious heart condition, in real-life Korean version of “I, Daniel Blake”

Kwak Hye-sook held up a picture of her husband. Choi In-gi, who died three years ago at the age of 60, was shown lying in critical care with several different hoses attached to him. Kwak let out a deep sigh as her tears began to flow.

“I photographed everything. Is someone in this state a human? He wasn’t a human. It was the country that killed him.”

Choi In-ki was an express city bus driver. After an aortic aneurysm diagnosis in 2005, he underwent two major operations in 2008 to have the blood vessels around his heart replaced with artificial ones. An aortic aneurysm is a serious condition in which blood vessels could fatally swell and burst at any moment. Left unable to work, Choi was selected as a basic livelihood benefit recipient and received support for living and hospital expenses.

 

But in 2013, the National Pension Service (NPS), which conducts assessments on the ability to work, concluded that Choi was capable of working. That October, Bundang Seoul National University Hospital diagnosed him as corresponding to stages 3–4 in a four-stage assessment of working capabilities – but NPS re-rated him as a 1, indicating the most favorable state. The city of Suwon, where Choi lived, accepted the conclusion and declared him a “conditional beneficiary.”

A conditional beneficiary cannot receive part or any of livelihood benefits unless he or she fulfills certain conditions for rehabilitation, such as obtaining employment. In June 2014, Choi was finally forced to find work as part of the cleanup crew at an apartment complex. Three months later, he collapsed in an underground parking garage; two months after that, he passed away.

On Aug. 28, the third anniversary of Choi’s death, his widow Kwak joined the MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society Public Interest Human Rights Legal Defense Center in filing suit against NPS and the city of Suwon.

Kwak Hye-sook (second from right) holds a press conference with MINBYUN representatives at a press conference in the group’s office on Aug. 30 to discuss her husband’s death. The case has drawn parallels to the film, “I, Daniel Blake.” (Ko Han-sol, staff reporter)

During an Aug. 30 press conference at MINBYUN’s office in Seoul’s Seocho neighborhood, the group referred to Choi’s death as “the result of unrealistic working capability assessments.” MINBYUN said it was the first lawsuit holding the state accountable for the death of a social welfare beneficiary.

Kwak and the group described Choi’s death as a Korean version of I, Daniel Blake, a film by director Ken Loach about a man who is forced to find work to meet conditions for benefit payment like Choi. In the film, the character dies while his case is being reheard by a public institution.

 

By Ko Han-sol, staff reporter

Original article from: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/809123.html

The Continuing Death of Migrant Workers Requires Human Rights Measures (Kyunghyang)

“There are a million migrant workers in Korea, but the continuing human rights violations and labor exploitation is an international disgrace and a shameful portrait of South Korean society. ”

 

#migrant_workers #labor_exploitation #human_right_violation #discrimination #pig_farm_worker’s_death


After a series of deaths of migrant workers who worked cleaning the septic tank of a rural pig farm, people are raising their voices calling for the government to protect the rights of laborers and prevent industrial accidents. Labor and social NGOs such as the Migrants’ Trade Union held a press conference in front of the government office in Seoul on June 4 and announced, “Every year, an average of 2.8 migrant workers died after suffocating in the septic tanks, but this year, four have already died.” There are a million migrant workers in Korea, but the continuing human rights violations and labor exploitation is an international disgrace and a shameful portrait of South Korean society.

The reliance on foreign labor in South Korea’s agricultural and livestock sector as well as the so-called “3D” manufacturing industry concerning dirty, difficult and dangerous tasks is growing. Nevertheless, the migrant workers working in the agricultural and livestock sector continue to suffer human rights violations, such as physical and verbal abuse, and they are forced to endure harsh working conditions. The death of four migrant workers at a pig farm last month is also connected to such background. On May 12, two Nepalese workers suffocated and died while cleaning a septic tank at a pig farm in Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The suction machine for the excrements broke down and the workers manually cleaned the tank without any safety equipment such as masks, eventually dying from the toxic gas. Also on May 27, a Chinese worker in his sixties and a Thai worker in his thirties also lost consciousness while cleaning the excrements at a pig farm in Buknae-myeon, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do. They were moved to a hospital, but later died.

Migrant workers working in the rural areas are “excluded” from provisions pertaining to working hours and holidays according to Article 63 of the Labor Standards Act. They cannot properly receive overdue wages as well as leaves and overtime pay. This is why people are calling migrant workers the modern-day serf, and joke that their workdays are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday, and Friday. In particular, the Act on the Employment, Etc. of Foreign Workers (Employment Permit System) restricts the migrant workers’ freedom of occupation, because it limits the number of times and the time to change work places. In particular, workers who entered the country with a work visa in the agriculture and livestock sector are banned from finding employment in the manufacturing and service industries, which have relatively more jobs.

The government should immediately revise legislation that work against labor and human rights, such as the Employment Permit System, and concentrate on protecting the basic rights and labor rights of the migrant workers. Otherwise, South Korea will not be able to escape from the stigma as a “labor hell” and as “a country that exploits labor,” instead of gaining the reputation as a “land of opportunity.”

Article from: http://english.khan.co.kr/khan_art_view.html?artid=201706052034107&code=790101#csidx65185514af5b1faa4bc258cdc42a492

 

 

Suicide rate polarizing according to age and region (hankyoreh)

 Suicide  more common among elderly in fading rural communities

 


 

2013 suicide rate by municipality

South Korea has OECD’s highest rate, and suicides more common among elderly in fading rural communities

The South Korean suicide rate, which consistently ranks as one of the world’s highest, also shows signs of serious polarization according to age group and region, statistics indicate.An

Oct. 21 analysis of cause of death data for 2005 to 2013 from Statistics Korea showed the suicide rate among South Koreans aged 80 and older to be anywhere from five to seven times higher than the rate for those aged 20 and 29 at points during the nine-year period.

Figures showing age-standardized rates for regions also showed some farming communities to have rates as much as five times higher than in large cities. Age-standardized rates correct for differing suicide rates by age group and thus is not affected by age distribution, including the overall percentage of senior citizens in the population.

According to the data, suicide rates rose with age. Between 2005 and 2012, the rate in the 80-and-older population stood at over 100 suicides per 100,000 people, falling to 94.7 only last year. The rate for those aged 70 to 79 also stood between 70 and 84 for the eight-year period before falling to 66.9 in 2013.

The suicide rate among South Korea’s senior citizens was calculated at nearly four times the average for OECD member countries. For those aged 20 to 29, the rate consistently ranged between 18 to 25 per 100,000. Among those aged 30 to 39, it showed a steady increase from 21.8 in 2005 to 28.4 in 2013.

Regional disparities were equally severe. Rates were consistently high for the provinces of Gangwon, South Chungcheong, and North Chungcheong, with respective 2013 age-standardized suicide rates of 32, 30.3, and 29.3 per 100,000 people. The rates for Seoul (22.6) and Ulsan (23.6) were roughly 10 suicides per 100,000 people lower.

An even sharper picture emerged in terms of differences between urban and rural communities. By the standard of simple average age-standardized suicide rate for 2005–2013, the top ten ranking municipalities had rates averaging 40.9 per 100,000 residents. For the bottom ten, the average was just 17.9.

Suicide rate by age group 2005-2013

By nine-year average, the top ten municipalities were, in order, Jeongseon and Yeongwol counties in Gangwon; Cheongyang County, South Chungcheong Province; Yangyang County, Gangwon Province; Goesan County, North Chungcheong Province, Hongcheon County, Gangwon Province; Taean County, South Chungcheong Province, Uiseong County, North Gyeongsang Province; Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province; and Seosan County, South Chungcheong Province. With the exception of Seosan, all of the communities have declining populations, with many senior residents who have had to keep working.

The analysis also found the South Korean suicide rate dropping when the birth rate or growth rate were high, and rising when the divorce rate or income inequality (Gini coefficient) increased. The trend was confirmed by a National Assembly Budget Office analysis of correlations between the suicide rate and various socioeconomic factors between 1990 and 2012. It indicates that deepening social inequality and changing of traditional family structures have led to more suicides.

 

Original Article : http://bit.ly/2slGq3S

Korea should get real on HIV (JoongAng Daily)

“Put simply, the Korean government’s view and treatment of people living with HIV is outdated and contrary to internationally recognized best practices, and needs to change now.”


The Korean government considers people living with HIV morally unfit to teach English and medically unfit to receive government scholarships to study at Korean universities. But the UN and governments around the world have long recognized that such policies are unjustified on any sort of health or human rights grounds. In such an economically and scientifically advanced country, this is an astonishing reminder that in some respects Korea still needs to catch up with the rest of the world.

Today, foreign English teachers in Korea must pass periodic HIV tests to keep their positions, and foreign graduate students may be disqualified from exchange programs and have government scholarships revoked if they are found to be HIV-positive. International human rights condemnation has not altered these facts.

In 2015, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination decided that Korea’s HIV testing requirements for foreign English teachers could not be justified on public health grounds and qualified as racial discrimination as most ethnic Koreans were not subjected to the same requirement. In late 2016, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea issued two decisions recommending an end to HIV restrictions on foreign English teachers and government-invited foreign graduate school scholarship recipients.

Former President Park Geun-hye and her government ignored all three determinations. However, the May 9 election for a new President offers an opportunity for a new president and government to revisit this issue.

Sadly, shortcomings in public education on HIV/AIDS remain a problem. As a result, many Koreans believe HIV to be far more infectious and transmissible than it really is and see a health threat that in practice does not exist. Contrary to the views of far too many in Korea, HIV cannot be spread through casual contact and modern medications can reduce the likelihood of transmission nearly to zero. Indeed, local health activists report that there are no known cases in Korea of a foreign teacher infecting a student with HIV.

As the Human Rights Commission recognized in its decisions, imposing HIV travel restrictions does not yield any public health benefit to Koreans. Advances in HIV treatment have vastly improved both quality of life and survival for people living with the disease, to the point that it can now be successfully managed with a daily pill. A recent study found that some people living with HIV in the United States “now have life expectancies equal to or even higher than the U.S. general population.”

Work and study restrictions on foreigners living with HIV may, in fact, have negative public health repercussions. By explicitly linking HIV to foreigners, these restrictions play a role in frustrating domestic prevention measures by suggesting that HIV is simply a foreign problem that can be addressed through border control.

By strengthening the stigma against HIV, the government’s restrictions can also discourage HIV-positive Koreans from seeking treatment and contribute to fear of prejudice that causes many people to choose not to get tested for HIV — which increases the disease’s potential for harm. The stigma in Korea is so pervasive that people living with HIV are reportedly 10 times more likely to commit suicide than Koreans without HIV.

The World Health Organization announced that there was no justification for HIV-based travel restrictions in 1987, and in 2006 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS stated that the practice is “discriminatory and cannot be justified by public health concerns.” In 2012, UNAIDS and the Global Business Coalition on Health presented a pledge by the CEOs of 24 multinational companies opposing HIV travel restrictions.

Fewer and fewer countries maintain travel restrictions on people living with HIV. The U.S. did away with its travel ban in 2010, the same year the Korean government itself recognized restrictions as a form of discrimination. Korea went on to claim at the 2012 International AIDS Conference that it had rescinded all HIV-related travel restrictions on foreigners — even as it continued to require foreigners seeking work visas to undergo health checks that included HIV testing.

Put simply, the Korean government’s view and treatment of people living with HIV is outdated and contrary to internationally recognized best practices, and needs to change now. Preventing people living with HIV from studying or teaching in Korea may fuel xenophobia, does not protect Koreans from HIV, isolates and marginalizes people living with HIV, and perpetuates dangerous popular misconceptions about the realities of the condition. Korean officials should instead recognize that HIV is a global health problem to be addressed through treatment, prevention and education.

Korea prides itself on its technological leadership, and the issues in this presidential election center on modernizing political and business relationships. Instead of banning and shaming people living with HIV, Korea should promote public education about HIV transmission and treatment, improve access to HIV treatment, and combat the damaging myth that a HIV diagnosis represents a moral failure. And it should stop requiring HIV testing for foreign students and teachers.

*The author is the John Gardner Fellow for Health and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch.

Courtney Tran

Article published on : http://bit.ly/2qqM7AD

Children of undocumented migrants called ‘illegal’ and denied basic rights (hankyoreh)

 

“The children here are frequently sick and have a hard time recovering. Dat, 4, whose parents are from Vietnam, often got pneumonia because he lived in a mouldy basement. After 50 months, his physical development was only at the 24-month level. Since undocumented migrant children aren’t covered by National Health Insurance, Dat’s parents have to pay the whole doctor’s bill. Even a mild cold ends up costing nearly 20,000 won (US$17.50). “Parents can’t take their children to the doctor unless they’re really sick,” said Bae Sang-yun, director of the center.”

 

 

 

Children learn the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

Daycare centre in Gunpo sees number of children rise and fall according to government crackdowns

This daycare center was built by renovating a 182-square meter flat on the second floor of a building. In a small garden out front, there’s a healthy crop of cherry tomatoes that the children planted.

But this place is different from other daycare centers. The teachers watching the children romping around the padded floor are resigned to the possibility that one of them might not show up the next day, without any notice. When parents don’t show up at the appointed time to pick up their children, the teachers think less about the extra work this entails than about a a government crackdown.

Children play on the playground at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

This past January, Asia Chang Daycare Center, which looks after the children of undocumented migrant workers, opened in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province. The space was provided by the Beautiful Foundation, while the center is run by Asia Chang, a group advocating the human rights of migrants. Just like many other parents, undocumented migrant workers need someone’s help to raise their kids. Official daycare centers are out of their reach, which is why a handful of these alternatives have opened in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. The children here that are running around in front of your eyes don’t exist, at least according to government records.

The children here are frequently sick and have a hard time recovering. Dat, 4, whose parents are from Vietnam, often got pneumonia because he lived in a mouldy basement. After 50 months, his physical development was only at the 24-month level. Since undocumented migrant children aren’t covered by National Health Insurance, Dat’s parents have to pay the whole doctor’s bill. Even a mild cold ends up costing nearly 20,000 won (US$17.50). “Parents can’t take their children to the doctor unless they’re really sick,” said Bae Sang-yun, director of the center.

Children watch a music video while eating lunch at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

These children aren’t getting free daycare – it costs about 1 million won (US$880) a month per child. But thanks to donations, the parents only have to pay 100,000 won. They’re basically relying not on the government but on good will. As word about the daycare center spread, people have moved to Gunpo from other parts of Gyeonggi Province and from Seoul. The daycare center said there are usually about 10 children at the daycare center, but when there’s a crackdown, the number decreases. There are currently seven children at the center.

Children put name tags on cherry tomatoes they planted at Asia Chang Daycare Center in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Apr. 28. (by Park Su-ji, staff reporter)

Undocumented newborn babies are sometimes sent back to their home countries alone, without their parents. Last week, the parents of a six-month-old baby ultimately gave up their efforts to enroll the child in the center and sent the child home. Even if they had sent the baby to the center, they both have to work until after 9 pm, and there was no one to look after the baby and no money to pay for it. The baby’s mother sobbed as she spoke with Bae on the phone. “If kids had the minimum right to be taken care of, which might include temporary visas for kids, you wouldn’t see babies being separated from their parents before they’ve even been weened,” he said. While South Korean families turn to emergency childcare services provided by the central government and local governments for gaps in their schedule, such services aren’t available for these undocumented migrants.

Groups trying to support undocumented migrant children have tried unsuccessfully to pass the Basic Law to Guarantee the Rights of Migrant Children. The form of assistance they’re currently exploring would entail revising the Child Welfare Act. “South Korean society is disregarding the universal human right of protecting children,” said So Rami, a lawyer with the Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation. In 1991, South Korea ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that all children must be protected from all kinds of discrimination.

 

By Park Su-ji, staff reporter in Gunpo

Original Article from  http://bit.ly/2r113T1