Travel in Korea still lacks women’s bathrooms

January 27th, 2012 · Transportation and Urban Design, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Some journalists took unusual looks at the recent Seollal holiday. Among was this MBC reporter. (Formatting is true to the original transcript.)


Whenever there is a holiday, women wind up waiting in long lines at the bathrooms in highway rest stops.

The recent holiday was no exception.

Recent changes in the law have had little effect.

Goh Hyeon-seung reports.


In front of the bathrooms in highway rest stops, there are enough men’s bathrooms but women’s bathrooms see long lines.

On holidays and other days off, women have to deal with the same problem.

Here we are at a rest stop off the Seohaean Expressway.

Men have 112 stalls and urinals while women have 73.

That leaves women 39 spaces short.

◀INT▶ Park Yeon-ok

“Women have to wait a long time, so so they bring their kids.. they need more.”

At least half of rest stops have fewer facilities for women. The Anseong rest stop is short by 36 and the Cheonan rest stop is short by 35. Both are on the Gyeongbu Expressway.

Train stations are the same.

At Yongsan Station there 85 spaces for men but only 51 for women.

7 out of 10 train statiosn nationwide have fewer spaces for women.

Airports, including Gimpo International Airport, are mostly the same.

Recent changes in the law require the women’s bathroom sto have more spaces than the men’s bathrooms to solve this problem.

However, there has been little change in buildings subject to the law.

◀INT▶ Park Woo-pil / Haengdam-do Rest Stop

“At peak times we cannot enlarge the bathrooms, and because of that we have to make use of the ones there already by alternating.”

On the recent Seollal holiday women again had to deal with this issue.

SKorea: Courts discriminate against disabled sexual assault victims

October 7th, 2011 · Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Following up on the finding that schools have been going easy on students who sexually assault disabled classmates, official statistics are showing that prosecutors and judges do the same. No doubt the recent attention to the issue is due to the coming release of ‘The Crucible’, the film inspired by the Gwangju Inhwa school scandal of a few years ago.

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that judges and prosecutors have been giving overly light penalties to those who commit sex crimes against those with less social power, such as children, teenagers, and the disabled.

This year prosecutors have sought electronic monitoring orders for half of those who committed sex crimes against children and teenagers, and have sought probation for four in 10 of those who committed sex crimes against children. Also, over the past five years the prosecution rate against those who committed sex crimes against a disabled victim was lower than the overall rate for sex offenses.

On October 3 National Assembly Representative Lee Jeong-hyeon, of the Grand National Party, released an analysis of statistics of the Supreme Court showing that the rates of courts ordering electronic monitoring of sex offenders were 12.4% in 2009, 24.5% last year, and 43.8% in the first half of this year, showing a marked upwards trend.

Furthermore, in 2009 the rate of requests for electronic monitoring of defendants under the law on the sexual protection of minors (아동·청소년 성보호법) was 35.7% (5 out of 14 cases), which increased to 42.0% (42 out of 100 cases) in 2010 and 55.4% (51 out of 91 cases) through June of this year. The law was significantly strengthened at the beginning of last year when there was considerable controversy over child sexual assaults.

Rates of electronic monitoring requests for sex offenses, murder, and exploitation were 29.8% in 2009, 48.7% in 2010, and 55.6% through the first half of this year.

Relatedly, Rep. Lee Doo-ah, also of the GNP, released other statistics showing that through the first half of this year there had been 217 trials for sex offenses committed against victims 13 years of age or younger, and 94 (43.3%) were sentences of probation. That was more than the 82 (37.8%)  who received prison or another type of confinement.

Rep. Roh Cheol-rae, of the Future Hope Alliance (미래희망연대), released an analysis of a report of the Ministry of Justice showing that over the past five years the prosecution of those accused of sex crimes against the disabled was 39.6%, less than the overall sex offense prosecution rate of 42.4%.

In the first half of this year the prosecution rate for those accused of sex crimes against the disabled was 39.1%, 3.4 percenthage points lower than the 42.5% rate last year. However, the overall prosecution rate for sex crimes was 42.5% this year, slightly greater than the 42.3% rate last year. Also, in 2007 there were 217 cases of sex offenses against the disabled, which increased nearly 50% to 327 in 2010, greater than the 32.6% increase among all sex offenses.

Sexual harassment victim wins in court after drunk driving arrest

June 28th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A judge has ruled that it would be unjust to revoke the driver’s license of a woman who drove while intoxicated because she faced sexual harassment by her driver and was left with no choice.

In September of last year, freelance television producer Ms K was drinking with a friend in the Seongsan-dong area of Seoul and called a driver at approximately 1 am. However, when the driver began driving, he also began speaking in a sexually harassing way and Ms K demanded that he stop the car. She and her friend calculated the bill and argued with the driver, who stopped the car at a four-way intersection in order to wait for a red light. They left the car and Ms K was suddenly alone.

Passing cars honked their horns at her car and Ms K, worried about having an accident, drove her car 30 meters to an emergency light and parked.Enraged, Ms K called the police and told them of the driver’s tyrannic action, but when they arrived, they discovered that she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.151% and was arrested for drunk driving.

Judge Park Sang-hyeon of the Seoul Administrative Courts’ fifth division said that “she was led into driving drunk by the very driver she had hired to avoid driving drunk originally… this must be considered as the cause of her driving drunk for 30 meters when traffic was fast and there was a serious chance of an accident.” Accordingly, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s revocation of Ms K’s driver’s license was an abuse of discretion, the judge ruled.

SKorea: Police harassment drives woman to attempt suicide

June 23rd, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link. Quite a sordid story down in Goyang.

During an investigation of a city council member committing sexual molestion, the victim attempted suicide, it was belatedly discovered.

According to police on the 20th, 37-year-old Ms. A told police that she had been molested by Goyang City Council member Mr. B in a bar and motel in the Janghang-dong area of Goyang from approximately 9.30pm until 1.50am on the night of December 12 of last year.

Police called in both Ms. A and Councilmember B to investigate the molestation, and Councilmember B told them that “this is happening because activist C and reporter D collaborated with Ms. A to defame me after we fought over administration and advertising,” and on January 4 he asked police to arrest them for making false accusations.

Police called in Ms. A and searched her home to investigate Councilman B’s charges.

Afterwards police went to Ms. A’s home three times and called her and sent her text messages on multiple occasions encouraging her to cooperate, and on January 21 Ms. A, with no way to solve the situation, attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills.

Fortunately Ms. A was discovered by a friend and taken to a hospital and her life was not in danger, but she sustained serious injury requiring eight stitches on her wrists.

Ms. A said that “every time the police came to investigate me for three or four hours, insisting that that I collaborated to defame the councilman, and I deny it all and then they pressure and cajole me… even though I deny it every time, they keep asking one-sided questions, it is really stressing me out.”

An official with the Ilsan police department said that “the investigation was carried out because Ms. A told lies to the police and they were attempting to ascertain the truth… with the molestation incident and councilman B’s allegagtions it was a complex investigation, but it was not one-sided.”

South Korea: Updates in rape victim suicide case

June 14th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

A couple of reports shed extra light on the case of a rape victim committing suicide after accusing the judge of insulting her.

According to this TV report, the accused is a Chinese citizen of North Korean descent; the victim’s lawyer denies that she worked in a noraebang (karaoke); the judge presides over a court that deals only with sexual assault cases; and the victim committed suicide one day before she was to testify, which she dreaded, having already failed to appear in court twice. For his part, the judge says that he wanted to question her regarding her relationship with the accused in order to determine guilt or innocence and denies insulting her or telling her she should reach a settlement.

Also, this report has some of the details of the discovery of Ms. A’s body and suicide note. It also contains a quote from the judge’s statement that “the questioning was, at the least, to determine whether there was rape or a consensual sexual relationship.”

South Korea: Rape victim commits suicide after ‘insults’ from judge

June 13th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

Update: Some more information is in this update post.

The suicide note of 29-year-old Ms. Byun, who took her own life after saying she felt insulted by the judge in the trial of her accused rapist, was published on the 12th.

Her family have confirmed the authenticity of the note and plan to send it to the Supreme Court with a petition based on it. Her family also plan to refer the Seoul District Court judge to the National Human Rights Commission over his conduct during the trial of the alleged rapist, Mr. Jin.

The note, which was released to the Dong-A Ilbo today after being sent to her family and the judge, runs six pages and says that “the judge insulted me when he sided with the man who raped me and pushed me to accept a settlement.” Ms. Byun also wrote that “the judge refused to believe me because he said ‘you didn’t graduate middle school and just lived as a helper in a noraebang’… I may have come from difficult family circumstances and not had a chance to study much, but I am absolutely not a liar or someone who would put blame on a stranger.”

Ms. Byun also wrote that “the judge said that ‘Mr. Jin is a nice young man who works in a company’ and that I was a slut who was ruining his life to make money… I have worked so hard in my life and made a lot of money so I don’t need money.” She then wrote that “if you can’t believe me then what are you doing in court… you think if a person in a noraebang is raped then they were a temptress?”

In the letter sent to her mother, Ms. Byun wrote that “after going to court I felt I had been stripped naked in front of someone.” She wrote that “after I was assaulted I felt like dying so many times, but I barely decided to live… now I think I have to die, please listen to my words.”

Finally, Ms. Byun wrote that “there is over 50 million won [US$46,000] in my bank account, please use it to hire a good lawyer and do something about this,” then included the mobile phone number of the prosecutor who investigated Mr. Jin, the accused rapist. Four pages of the note were found in the Oryu-dong hotel where Ms. Byun committed suicide, and the other two were found by her family in her home and given to prosecutors.

Mr. Jin, who was released on bail at the end of April and has laid low since Ms. Byun’s suicide, was re-imprisoned on the 11th. The judge revoked Mr. Jin’s bail immediately after Ms. Byun’s suicide. Prosecutors have asked for a three-year sentence for Mr. Jin, and the judge will likely make his ruling on the 24th.

SKorea: Sexual harassment claims have skyrocketed in last decade

March 9th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that cases of sex discrimination and sexual harassment reported to the National Human Rights Commission (국가인권위원회) are increasing every year.

According to the NHRC on the 8th, which was the 103rd International Women’s Day, cases of sex discrimination and sexual harassment have increased 25-fold in the past eight years, from 13 cases in 2002 to 336 cases in 2010.

In particular, sexual harassment-related allegations went from just one in 2002 to 107 in 2006 , 151 in 2008, and 212 in 2010, a large increase.

Allegations of sex discrimination or being treated differently on account of sex increased 10-fold between 2002 and 2001.

Cases of alleged sex discriminiation totaled 12 in 2002, 28 in 2004, 37 in 2006, 56 in 2008, and 124 in 2010, increasing every year and the majority of allegations came from women.

Since 2002, when the NHRC began operating, there have been a total of 528 allegations of sex discrimination and 869 allegations of sexual harassment.

The NHRC said in its statement observing International Women’s Day that “50% of women in our country participate in the workforce, 10% below the OECD average, and so our society still needs to take action on this and other women’s rights-related issues.”

The statement added that “discrimination against women takes complex and indirect forms, so it can easily be overlooked… compared to the past, women’s status has improved, but solutions to sex discrimination need particular strong effort to be internalized.”

Government wants better treatment of sexual assault victims

January 29th, 2011 · Legal news, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The nation’s first experts of child and disabled victims of sexual assault have been minted. The government expects that the experts will enable it to better protect victims and punish offenders.

The Ministry of Gender and Family (여성가족부) announced on January 27, 2011 that its experts on child and disabled victims of sexual assault have begun their basic duties. The experts will be participating in simultaneous surveys to bring attention to child and disabled victims of sexual assault. Further, the Ministry explained, the surveys will not only protect child and disabled victims but also will lead to victim testimony being given greater weight in courtrooms and make it easier to punish offenders. The testimony of children and the disabled has been restricted in court and given lower weight because of concerns over their ability to remember and express themselves verbally and their vulnerability to confusion and leading questions. Also, there are concerns that when child and disabled victims are questioned by investigative agencies they may suffer a second victimization through having to recall painful memories and that this may deter them from reporting their assaults.

There are 19 newly certified experts, nine of whom are advisors to police and prosecutors and 10 of whom work in victim’s aid organizations such as the Sunflower Children’s Center (해바라기 아동센터) and School Violence One-Stop Help Center (학교폭력 원스톱지원센터). For two months last year, beginning in October, they completed 180 hours of training. They consulted with police and prosecutors to understand their roles and the completion of a case from start to finish. At a meeting today Minister Baek Hui-yeong presented them with their certifications and offered his opinions on the operation of the educational process.

2009 sexual assault statistics published in South Korea

December 30th, 2010 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Society, Surveys and Studies, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is here.

Last year nationwide there were 5.1 rapes or attempted rapes per 1,000 adult women, and the vast majority of all sexual assault victims knew the faces of their attackers.

On the 28th the Ministry of Gender and Family (여성가족부) announced the results of its nationwide survey of 2,200 adult men and women aged 19 and over, conducted from August through October, and finding that 0.2% of the women reported experiencing rape and 0.4% reported experiencing attempted rape.

2.1% had experienced “severe sexual molestation” (meaning forcible touching such as  sexual advances and fondling) and 3.3% had experienced “light sexual molestation”.

The survey found that theses rates were much higher than in 2007. Of 1,000 women, 2.2 (0.2%) had experienced rape or attempted rape; 4.7 (0.5%), severe sexual molestation; and 24.6 (2.5%), light sexual molestation.

The rate at which the crimes were reported to police also increased, as 12.3% of rapes and attempted rapes were reported (7.1% were in 2007) and 5.7% of severe sexual molestation was reported (5.3% in 2007).

Disappointed by plastic surgery, woman commits suicide

October 20th, 2010 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Women in Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is here.

At approximately 9.20pm on October 18, 41-year-old Ms. A was discovered, hanged, in the living room of her apartment in the Bok-gu area of Gwangju by her older sister’s husband, who alerted police.

Before her death Ms. A sent a text message saying, “I’m sorry. Please come to the house.”

Police said that Ms. A was divorced and was living by herself and had undergone two plastic surgeries in Seoul which had not gone well, placing her under considerable stress, which they believe led to her suicide. The investigation is ongoing.