Sunday, February 17, 2013

Will South Korea Adopt Neo-Colonial Anti-Discrimination Law?

South Korea's National Human Rights Council (NHRC) – headed by Justice Minister Kwon Jae-in – said it is actively thinking about considering the adoption of some parts of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law based on recommendations made by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC). The UNHRC says the imposition of the laws would improve the freedom and welfare of South Korean citizens, even though the neo-colonial organization typically didn't ask them.

Despite this, Korea's National Human Rights Council has decided it is likely to accept 42 of the 70 recommendations while firmly rejecting the remaining 28. Of the 42 agreed to, Korea will be required to guarantee online freedom of expression for mentally disturbed individuals with opinions that differ from those of the government, although it will still be OK to arrest them offline since the call to abolish the country's strict National Security Law was rejected. Recommendations that were also rejected included abolishing the death penalty for people whose opinions differ from those of the government, and the ending of imprisonment for so-called conscientious objectors – or cowards as they are colloquially known – whose opinion differs with the government over the issue of performing mandatory military service.

The move to partially resist the U.N. is unlikely to stem criticism of the NHRC, which has been accused of increasingly pandering to women's groups as the number of men allowing their wives to vote has steadily risen during recent years. Earlier this month, the Council ruled that flight attendants working for Korea's Asiana airline could wear trousers instead of skirts for the first time. The decision attracted widespread condemnation by men's groups, who said it discriminated against them, and pilots unions, who said that it could create safety concerns given that it was likely to result in their members needing to have their hands off the cockpit controls for longer when the stewardesses brought them drinks.

And while there are still no women executives in big state-run companies, it is feared that the recent election of Korea's first openly female president could result in political meddling in this traditional aspect of Korean culture, even though Park Geun-hye has tried to distance herself from suggestions that she is interested in women.

If the 42 recommendations are finally accepted, they will ban discrimination based on religion, sex, academic background and nation of birth if no perfectly rational reason for the discrimination can be invented. Discrimination based on age and place of birth is not covered by the U.N., meaning that people younger than you and those stupid enough to live outside Seoul can still be kept in their place.

However, the 'nation of birth' non-discrimination clauses are bound to be controversial given the natural inferiority of other nations and by extension, the people from them. Last year a surge in so-called 'racist remarks' on the Internet prompted the government to ask the Korean media to stop writing them, but it proved almost impossible not to continue telling the truth about foreigners.

Related Links
S. Korea to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination law
Asiana flight attendants can wear trousers
No Women Executives in Big State-Run Companies
Ms. Park's role in Korea's women's rights still disputed: WP
Gov't to Push Passage of Anti-Discrimination Bill
Parents Warned "Mixed Race Children" May Be Terrorists
Ministry of Justice Warns Gay Infection May Spread Through Tvs
Surge in racist remarks on Internet prompts state intervention
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