10 April 2017
The case of Mr Han is not isolated. Over a dozen of Korean trade union members are detained on similar charges. Government repression of trade unions in Korea is a reality. It is the manifestation of serious failures by the Korean government and public institutions to uphold freedom of peaceful assembly but also freedom of association and, more broadly, of fundamental labour rights, as shown by the many cases brought against Korea at the ILO. Repression against trade unions is taking place in a context of deep-rooted income inequality in the Korean society– one of the highest in the OECD area, of severe labour market imbalances and job precarity – over 40% of Koreans are “non-regular” workers – and as of recently of a deep political crisis.