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7 in 10 Koreans think Korean society discriminative: survey

June 19, 2020 - 17:41 By Ock Hyun-ju
This March 18, 2018, photo shows a protester making a handprint during an anti-racism rally in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The majority of South Koreans perceive that the society is discriminative and human rights violations are serious, though they believe their own human rights are largely being respected, a survey showed Friday.

A combined 69.1 percent of respondents think the degree of discrimination is serious -- “very serious” at 13.7 percent and “somewhat serious” at 55.4 percent -- while 29.2 percent answered “not serious” and 1.6 percent “not serious at all,” according to a survey by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.

The human rights watchdog conducted the survey on 13,077 people across the country between August and September in 2019 -- the first annual survey on human rights conditions in Korea.

As for the level of human rights violations, 54 percent said they were “serious” while 46 percent answered “not serious.”

The respondents answered that the disabled were most vulnerable to human rights violations and discrimination (29.7 percent), followed by immigrants (16.4 percent), the elderly (13.4 percent) and women (13.2 percent).

When it comes to conditions that make people more vulnerable to rights violations and discrimination, the respondents thought “being in poverty” was the major reason (29.6 percent), followed by having low levels of education (18.9 percent), having criminal records (16.2 percent) and having non-regular jobs (12.9 percent).

Despite their grim perception of human rights situation in Korean society, the majority of the respondents, or 71.3 percent, said they think their own human rights are being respected while 28.7 percent didn’t think so.

Those with good educational backgrounds and high income were more likely to respond that their human rights were being respected, the NHRCK said.

Koreans were also generally positive about the possible progress in the country’s human rights situation, with 62.4 percent saying the situation is getting better. Some 15.4 percent believe the situation is getting worse and 22.1 percent said there is little change.

By Ock Hyun-ju (