International Human Rights Instruments


HRI/CORE/1/Add.1255 September 2003

Original: ENGLISH

core document forming part of the REPORTSof states parties

republic of korea

[22 August 2003]

GE.03-43895 (E) 231003


Chapter Paragraphs Page


A.Geography 13

B.Population, language and religion 2 - 93

C.Other socio-economic indicators 104


A.Modern political history 11 - 214

B.Type of government 22 - 236

C.Political organization 24 - 466

1.The President 24 - 296

2.The Prime Minister, State Council and executive branch 30 - 347

3.The legislature 35 - 398

4.The judiciary 40 - 468


A.State system responsible for human rights 47 - 549

B.Compensatory measures for injuries to individual rights 55 - 5911

C.Human rights protection in the Constitution and other laws 60 - 6612

D.Human rights instruments within the State legal system 67 - 6913


Annex 15

I. Land and People

A. Geography

The Republic of Korea is situated on the Korean peninsula spanning 1,100 kilometres from north to south, and located between the East Sea and the Yellow Sea. The Korean peninsula, encompassing a total of 222,154 square kilometres, is part of the north‑eastern region of the Asian continent, situated in the north‑western corner of the Pacific Ocean.

B. Population, language and religion

The people of the Republic of Korea are a homogeneous ethnic family and there is only one official mother language: Korean. Sharing distinct physical characteristics, Korean people are believed to be descendants of several Mongol tribes that migrated to the Korean peninsula from Central Asia.

As of April 2002, the Republic of Korea’s total population was estimated at 48,021,558, with a density of 476 people per square kilometre. Today, the population growth rate stands at 0.89 per cent and is expected to decline further to 0 per cent in 2028.

Statistics show that 6.9 per cent of the total population was 65 years or older in 1999, while this generation made up 7.2 per cent of the total in 2000. Owing to the Republic’s success in economic development, the overall health of Koreans has improved significantly over the past three decades. In 1960, life expectancy was 51 years for males and 54 for females. These figures had increased to 72.1 for males and 79.5 for females in 2000.

The infant mortality rate has likewise declined sharply, with a concurring drop in maternal mortality. As a result of a low birth rate and extended life expectancy, the population distribution is now shaped more like that of a bell. The young population (under the age of 15 years) will make up a decreasing portion of the total, while senior citizens (over 65 years) will account for some 19.3 per cent of the total by the year 2030.

Great importance has traditionally been placed on education as a means for self‑fulfilment, as well as a means for social advancement. Modern schools were introduced in the 1880s, and with the founding of the Republic of Korea in 1948, the Government began to establish a modern educational system, making six years of elementary school mandatory in 1953. Compulsory education has been extended to the middle school, responsible for three years of secondary education, which will be applied nationwide in 2004. Today, the Republic holds one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

The nation’s rapid industrialization and urbanization in the 1960s and 1970s have been accompanied by a continuing migration of rural residents into the cities, particularly Seoul, resulting in the heavy urbanization of metropolitan areas. However, in recent years, an increasing number of people have moved to newly developed suburban areas of Seoul.

Unlike some cultures in which a single religion is dominant, Korean culture includes a wide variety of religious elements that have shaped the people’s way of thinking and behaviour. Historically, Koreans lived under the influences of shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism, and in modern times, the Christian faith has made strong inroads into the country, bringing forth yet another important factor that may change the spiritual landscape of the people. Moreover, the population of religious believers has expanded markedly with the emergence of religious institutions as influential social organizations.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution in the Republic of Korea. According to a 1999 social statistics survey, 53.6 per cent of Koreans follow a specific religious faith. Buddhists account for some 49 per cent of the religious population, followed by Protestants at 35 per cent and Catholics at 13 per cent.

C. Other socio-economic indicators

An outward-oriented economic development strategy using exports as the engine of growth contributed greatly to the radical economic transformation of the Republic. Based on such a strategy, many successful development programmes were implemented. As a result, from 1961 to 2002, the Republic of Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased from US$ 2.1 billion to US$ 476.6 billion, making the Republic’s economy the world’s thirteenth largest (in terms of GDP). Its per capita gross national income (GNI) had soared from US$ 82 in 1961 to US$ 10,013 by 2002. These impressive figures clearly indicate the magnitude of success that these economic programmes have brought about. The nation became the twenty‑ninth member State of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996.

II. General Political Structure

A. Modern political history

Until the late nineteenth century, Korea, then the “Joseon Dynasty”, remained a “Hermit Kingdom”, adamantly opposed to Western demands for diplomatic and trade relations. Over time, however, a few Asian and European countries competed with each other for influence over the Korean peninsula. In 1910, Japan forcibly annexed the Joseon Dynasty and instituted colonial rule. All government functions as well as industries were taken over by the Japanese and the country was oppressed and exploited owing to Japanese imperialist control. Thirty‑five years of Japanese rule ended in 1945 when Japan was defeated by the Allied Forces during the Second World War.

After liberation, the Soviet Union and the United States divided the Korean peninsula north and south at the 38th parallel for the purpose of disarming the remaining Japanese troops. As each occupation force imposed its own system on the area under its jurisdiction, efforts to establish a united independent government in the peninsula were constantly frustrated. As conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union intensified, the issue of the Korean peninsula was put on the agenda of the United Nations, which decided to hold general elections under the auspices of the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK).

The elections were carried out on 10 May in the areas south of the 38th parallel, and Syngman Rhee was elected the first President of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Meanwhile, north of the 38th parallel, as the Soviet Union denied entrance to UNTCOK, a communist regime was established under the leadership of Kim Il Sung.

On 25 June 1950, the Korean war broke out. The war devastated the peninsula, leaving almost 3 million Koreans dead or wounded, and millions of others homeless and separated from their families. A ceasefire was signed in July 1953, but serious social disorder continued under the Government of President Rhee.

As democracy in the Republic of Korea was still in its developing stages during the 1950s, the country experienced tremendous political and economic difficulties. President Rhee stepped down in April 1960 as a result of a student-led uprising, and the Second Republic was established, as Chang Myon of the Democratic Party formed a government in August later that year.

The Second Republic, however, was brought down by a coup d’état led by Major General Park Chung-hee on 16 May 1961. The Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, headed by Major General Park, took over the legislative, executive and judicial functions of the Government.

Park Chung-hee became President in an election in 1963. His Government pursued rapid industrialization and achieved high economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s, a period that is often dubbed as “the Miracle on the Hangang River”. Despite high growth in the Korean economy during this time, government rule under Park Chung-hee was accompanied by severe restrictions in political rights and civil liberties.

The President’s assassination in October 1979 resulted in a tumultuous transition period that was ruled under martial law. Subsequently, Choi Kyu-hah, who was installed as a caretaker President during this time, resigned in August 1980. Chun Doo-hwan was elected President of the Republic of Korea by the National Conference for Unification, which functioned as a college of electors, established under the Park Administration.

Pro-democracy movements intensified throughout the 1980s and presidential election by direct popular vote was restored by constitutional revision in 1987. Roh Tae-woo, also a former general, was elected President under the new Constitution but the democratic advances achieved during his Administration set the stage for the election of the first civilian president in 32 years. Kim Young-Sam, a long-time pro-democracy activist, was elected President in 1992 on the ruling party ticket.

In the 1997 presidential election, Kim Dae-jung, leader of the major opposition, National Congress for New Politics, was elected. His Administration, called the “Government of the People”, was created through the first-ever peaceful transfer of power from the ruling to the opposition party in Korean constitutional history.

In February 2003, Roh Moo-hyun was inaugurated as the sixteenth President and his Administration, called “Participatory Government”, launched the Policy of Peace and Prosperity. The Policy is an outgrowth of President Roh Moo-hyun’s strategic vision, envisaging the laying of the foundation for peaceful unification and the groundwork for a take-off towards becoming an economic hub of North-East Asia through the promotion of peace in the Korean peninsula and the pursuit of common prosperity between the two Koreas.

B. Type of government

The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic. Its Constitution, in its preamble, states that the primary constitutional aim is to afford equal opportunities to every person and provide for the fullest development of individual capabilities in all fields, including political, economic, social and cultural life, by further strengthening the basic free and democratic order conducive to private initiative and public harmony. It also institutionalizes the separation of powers and the rule of law.

The Republic’s political system is a blended presidential system encompassing some of the characteristics of a parliamentary system, making it different from a pure presidential system. For example, the system has a Prime Minister whose appointment is approved by the National Assembly. Also, the Executive including the President often introduces bills on the floor of the National Assembly.

C. Political organization

1. The President

The President of the Republic of Korea, leader of the Government’s executive branch and head of State, is selected through secret ballot in direct national elections by all citizens 20 years or older. The President serves a single five-year term, with additional terms specifically disallowed by constitutional provision. The most recent presidential election was held in December 2002.

Candidates for the Presidency must be 40 years of age or older, a national of the Republic of Korea, and eligible to vote (election violations and other high crimes, as well as severe mental illness, may result in legal disenfranchisement).

The single‑term safeguard prevents any individual from holding the reins of government power for a protracted period of time. In the event of presidential disability, the Presidency devolves to the Prime Minister, followed by members of the State Council in a succession order predetermined by law. In the event of a vacancy in the office of the Presidency, a successor must be elected within 60 days.

The President’s duties include: safeguarding the independence of the Republic of Korea and defending the Constitution, pursuing the peaceful reunification of the homeland, and executing the laws of the Republic as ratified by the National Assembly.

The President’s powers include exercising a veto over National Assembly bills (which can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly), attending and addressing National Assembly meetings, submitting a referendum directly to the public, declaring war and concluding peace, serving as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, declaring martial law, promulgating law, submitting government budgets to the National Assembly, and granting amnesties, commutations, and awards. Many of the Presidential powers are held in check by the National Assembly.

The President may not be charged with criminal offences during his term of office except for insurrection or treason. The President appoints and dismisses public officials, including the Prime Minister and members of the State Council, who hold office at his directive and may be removed by his order. The President may not hold any other private or public posts during his term.

2. The Prime Minister, State Council and executive branch

Under the Republic of Korea’s Presidential system, the President performs his duties through the State Council, which is made up of 15 to 30 members and presided over by the President. The State Council is a constitutionally established deliberative body, composed of the leaders of various government departments as determined by the President, through which the President delegates his authority. Further indicative of the State Council’s deliberative but important role in political affairs, the Constitution stipulates that the issues noted below must be discussed by the State Council: (a) basic plans for State affairs and the general policies of the executive; (b) a declaration of war, conclusion of peace and other important matters pertaining to foreign policy; (c) draft amendments to the Constitution, proposals for national referendums, treaty proposals, legislative bills and proposed presidential decrees; (d) budgets, settlement of accounts, basic plans for disposal of State properties and contracts incurring financial obligations on the State and other important financial matters; (e) emergency orders and emergency financial and economic actions or orders by the President; (f) important matters related to the military; (g) request to convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly; (h) grants of amnesty, commutation and restoration of rights; and (i) basic plans concerning delegation or allocation of powers within the executive branch, etc.

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President but this must be approved by a majority of the National Assembly. As the principal executive assistant to the President, and a member of the State Council, the Prime Minister supervises the administrative ministries and manages the Office for Government Policy Coordination, as the President directs. The Prime Minister also has the power to deliberate major national policies within the State Council, and to attend meetings of the National Assembly.

Two Deputy Prime Ministers, members of the State Council who follow the Prime Minister in the succession order, are assigned duties as delegated by the Prime Minister. The Minister of Finance and Economy, and the Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, hold offices as Deputy Prime Ministers.

Members of the State Council are appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. They lead and supervise their administrative ministries, deliberate major State affairs, and act on behalf of the President. Members of the State Council shall attend any meeting of the National Assembly, report on the State administration or deliver opinions and answer questions. Members of the State Council are collectively and individually responsible to the President only.

No member of the military is ineligible for membership in the State Council or appointment to the position of Prime Minister, unless he or she is retired from active duty.

3. The legislature

Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly that is a unicameral legislature, currently composed of 273 members (constitutional provision sets a minimum of 200 members) who serve four-year terms. Only nationals of the Republic of Korea who are eligible to vote and are 25 years of age or older may be elected to the National Assembly.

Assembly members elected by direct popular vote comprise five sixths of the membership, with remaining seats distributed proportionately among parties winning five seats or more in a general election. Proportional representation is aimed at having Assembly members represent national interests rather than local ones.

The National Assembly is vested with a number of functions under the Constitution, foremost of which is making laws. Other functions of the Assembly include: approval of the national budget; approval of any general amnesty issued by the President; inspecting or investigating specific matters of State affairs; impeachment; approval of treaties or other matters related to foreign policy; approval of appointments to the judiciary and the Prime Ministry; approval of declaration of war; and approval of the dispatch of armed forces abroad or the stationing of foreign forces within the country. The President’s veto power over National Assembly bills can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly maintains 16 standing committees with the following functional designations: House Steering; Legislation and Judiciary; National Policy; Finance and Economy; Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade; National Defence; Government Administration and Local Autonomy; Education; Science, Technology, Information and Telecommunications; Culture and Tourism; Agriculture, Forestry, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Commerce, Industry and Energy; Health and Welfare; Environment and Labour; Construction and Transportation; and Intelligence.

Chairmen of the standing committees are elected from among the members of the respective committees. The committee chairman is authorized to control the proceedings, maintain order, and represent the committee. The committees constitute the primary forum for reconciling differences between the ruling and opposition parties.

4. The judiciary

The judiciary of the Republic of Korea consists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the local District Courts, Family Courts, Administrative Courts, Patent Courts, and the Courts Martial.

The Supreme Court is the highest level of appellate court. Its members are appointed for six-year terms by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly, and may be reappointed. The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice is also appointed by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly, but the Chief Justice is limited to a single term in that role. The Chief Justice and other Supreme Court justices must be 40 years of age or older, eligible to vote, and must have at least 15 years of legal experience.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea does not judge the constitutionality of laws unless the laws’ constitutionality or legality is at issue in a trial. Generally, judicial review of the constitutionality of laws is a function performed by a special court known as the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court is composed of nine adjudicators qualified to be court judges, and appointed by the President. Three members must be selected from a list nominated by the National Assembly, and three must be chosen from nominees of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In order to declare a law unconstitutional, six Constitutional Court members must agree. The Constitutional Court also adjudicates upon impeachment, dissolution of a political party and intragovernmental disputes.

Besides, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea adjudicates the constitutional complaints that are requested by citizens. Any person whose fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution have been infringed due to exercise or non-exercise of the public power, excluding judgement of the court, may request from the Constitutional Court an adjudication on constitutional complaint, provided that he or she has taken all remedial procedures available by other laws.

Additional courts include: the High Court, which hears appeals from decisions in civil, criminal and administrative cases rendered by district and family courts and tries special cases designated by law; the District Court, which exercises jurisdiction over civil, criminal, administrative, electoral, and other judicial matters, and which performs functions of the Administrative Court in their respective districts outside of Seoul; and the Family Courts, Administrative Courts, and Patent Courts, which deal exclusively in specially prescribed arenas of law, including some of the initial appellate processes in that sphere. The term of office for judges other than the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court is 10 years, and judges outside of those two courts may be reappointed at the end of their terms.

Finally, courts martial have jurisdiction over military trials. The court of final appeal from the Courts martial is the Supreme Court.

Except for those serving on the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is responsible for appointments to all other posts in the judiciary. His appointments are subject to the approval of the Supreme Court Justices’ Council (the assembled members of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice).

III.General legal framework of humanrights protection

A. State system responsible for human rights

In the Republic of Korea, the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary share responsibility for human rights protection within their respective competence.

In accordance with constitutional mandates, the National Assembly enacts laws to protect citizens’ rights, and checks whether rights protected under the Constitution are violated by the actions of the State entities or by citizens. By holding public hearings and general discussion in collaboration with the executive agencies as well as related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the legislative body properly responds to the needs of human rights.

Executive agencies including the President, the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Justice, public prosecutors, and the police are the main enforcers of the Constitution and related laws of rights protection. The Ministry of Justice establishes national policies as well as strategies to publicize international instruments on human rights. The Human Rights Division of the Ministry focuses on promoting the spirit of observation of law and order, and cooperating with private human rights organizations.

Recently, police agencies renewed their commitment to fairness as well as to humanitarianism in executing the law. The Korean National Police Agency has instituted several measures to achieve these ends, including the development of a subsidiary committee on human rights protection within its collaborative bodies with NGOs, the establishment of safety and human rights principles for riot police, and the reduction in random questioning of suspicious behaviour.

In the Republic of Korea, every citizen has recourse in the courts if their rights are violated. State courts at different levels deal with rights abuse cases within their jurisdictions as set by the Constitution as well as other human rights laws. The Constitutional Court adjudicates upon the constitutionality of laws and checks administrative authorities to ensure the independence of the judiciary in protecting the basic rights of citizens. If a law violates the basic human rights prescribed in the Constitution, it is revised, after adjudication by the Constitutional Court, and then, if necessary, by act of the National Assembly.

In addition to the above governmental branches, in 1994, the Government instituted the Office of the Ombudsman to provide a further safeguard against maladministration and to protect the rights and interests of its people. The Ombudsman’s Office is an independent neutral agency following the precepts of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), established with the purpose of settling citizens’ complaints. The major function of the Ombudsman is to prevent government agencies from infringing on the rights and interests of citizens.

However, the major advancement in human rights protection was the institution of the National Human Rights Commission in November 2001. It is an independent agency empowered to recommend national legislation concerning human rights, and investigate human rights violations and discriminatory acts.

Article 19-(1) of the National Human Rights Commission Act stipulates that the Commission shall investigate and research with respect to statutes (including bills submitted to the National Assembly), legal systems, policies and practices related to human rights, and recommend their improvement or present opinions thereon. Article 21 states that a related State organ shall hear opinions of the Commission when the former prepares a governmental report under the provisions of any international treaty on human rights. In accordance with article 25, the Commission mayrecommend related entities to improve or rectify specific policies and practices or present opinions thereon; article 29 states that the Commission shall prepare an annual report on its activities for the preceding year, the human rights situation and improvement measures and report thereon to the President of the Republic of Korea and the National Assembly.

B. Compensatory measures for injuries to individual rights

In the Republic of Korea, personal rights and liberties are protected by the Constitution and related laws. The Constitution lays down fundamental principles to ensure that individuals are able to seek compensation for any infringement of their rights:

(a)Neither speech nor the press shall violate the honour or rights of persons or undermine public morals or social ethics. Should speech or the press violate the honour or rights of individual persons, claims may be made for any damage resulting therefrom (art. 21-4);

(b)Expropriation, use, or restriction of private property from public necessity and compensation shall be governed by law, and in such a case, just compensation shall be paid (art. 23-3);

(c)In a case where a criminal suspect or an accused person who has been placed under detention is not indicted as provided by law or is acquitted by a court, he shall be entitled to claim just compensation from the State under the conditions prescribed by law (art. 28);

(d)In case a person has sustained damages from an unlawful act committed by a public official in the course of official duties, he may claim just compensation from the State or public organization under the conditions prescribed by law (art. 29-1);

(e)Citizens who have suffered bodily injury or death due to criminal acts of others may receive aid from the State under the conditions prescribed by law (art. 30).

In accordance with the principles stated in the Constitution, related laws and regulatory statutes provide the appropriate means to redress injuries or damages on personal rights. Broadly, there are two aspects of rights infringement and of compensation for those infringements. The first relates to cases where individual rights are encroached by State officials; the second aspect is concerned with damages or injuries borne between individuals, where the State mediates conflicting interests through judicial procedures as well as through administrative relief.

With regard to the second aspect, conflict resolution is based on the provisions of the Civil Code and the Code for Civil Procedure. The victim of a crime who has suffered injury as a result of criminal action by the defendant is entitled to bring a concomitant civil suit during the hearing of the criminal case. Those victims may also receive aid from the State in accordance with the Crime Victim Aid Act.

In the case of persons damaged or injured by public officials, the National Compensation Act and Penal Compensation Act delineate guidelines. The former states that when public officials inflict damages on other persons intentionally or negligently in the course of performing their official duties, the State or local government shall redress the damages (National Compensation Act, art. 2).

In addition to the above-mentioned laws and regulations, variousspecial acts have addressed the issue of compensation for possible damages to individual rights in areas such as racial discrimination, gender inequality, and political imprisonment. Such acts as the Gender Discrimination Prevention and Relief Act and the Act on the Restoration of Honour and Compensation (as it pertains to people involved in democratic movements), specify in precise legal terms, criminality, extent of damages or injuries, and range of compensation for infringements of human rights.

C. Human Rights protection in the Constitution and other laws

Fundamental and inviolable human rights are protected by the Constitution. Chapter II of the Constitution is solely allotted to citizens’ rights and responsibilities and thereby citizens are entitled to personal liberty, physical integrity, and privacy. Also, basic human rights protected by the Constitution, excluding those that are premised on citizenship of the Republic of Korea, apply equally to foreigners.

Contents on protection of human rights as provided in the Constitution are only illustrative. Article 37, paragraph 1, states that freedoms and rights shall not be negated on the ground that they are not enumerated in the Constitution. Government should respect fundamental principles and standards of human rights through pertinent statutes and regulations.

The criminal laws and regulations provide that no person may be arbitrarily arrested, detained, searched, or interrogated. In accordance with article 12 of the Constitution, torture is prohibited and in a case where a confession is made against a defendant’s will resulting from torture, violence, intimidation, unduly prolonged detention, deceit, etc. or in a case where a confession is the only evidence against a defendant in a formal trial, such a confession shall not be admitted as evidence of guilt nor shall the defendant be punished by reason of such a confession.

The law provides that any person who is arrested or detained has the right to prompt assistance of counsel and any indigent defendant who cannot procure the assistance of counsel is provided assistance by the State. Those who are arrested or detained are to be informed of the reason for their arrest or detention and be told of their right to assistance of counsel. Those arrested or detained also have the right to request the court to review the legality of the arrest or detention. Families of persons arrested or detained are promptly notified of the reason for, and the time and place of, the arrest or detention.

The fundamental principle of nulla poena sine lege is faithfully upheld in criminal law and procedure. Double jeopardy and retroactive application of the criminal code are all prohibited under domestic law.

Since the late 1980s, the Government of the Republic of Korea has accorded high priority to the protection of human rights, and special laws protecting political rights and women’s rights have been enacted. The Special Act to find the Truth on Suspicious Deaths, and the Act on the Restoration of Honour and Compensation for People involved in Democratic Movements, ensure that victims of past oppression of the people’s movements for democracy and victims’ families be provided just compensation for damages, injuries or deaths suffered.

The Government has also constantly improved legal as well as institutional infrastructures to promote gender equality since the mid‑1990s. The Gender Discrimination Prevention and Relief Act was enacted in 1991 and the Ministry of Gender Equality was established in 2001 to fully protect women’s rights.

D. Human Rights instruments within the State legal system

Article 6-(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea states that treaties duly concluded and promulgated under the Constitution and the generally recognized rules of international law shall have the same effect as the domestic laws of the Republic. Once ratified by the Government, the treaties become binding on all State organs and individual citizens.

The Republic of Korea has signed and ratified the s ix core h uman r ights i nstruments :

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The above six core human rights instruments are therefore fully binding in the Republic of Korea and judicial and executive authorities and all public associations concerned must abide by the obligations under the instruments. Generally, additional procedures are not needed for the treaty obligations to have domestic legal force.

In its first periodic report on the domestic implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights submitted with article 40 of the Covenant, the Government of the Republic reaffirmed that those human rights instruments would be automatically incorporated into domestic law once they were duly ratified.

IV. Information and Publicity

The Republic of Korea has been active in providing information on human rights to the general public through the publication of international instruments on human rights in Korean, as well as through educational programmes at schools.

The Ministry of Justice, as the branch of the Government directly responsible for human rights protection, reviews international conventions on human rights, prepares them for domestic application, and supervises whether they are aptly implemented at schools, in workplaces, and even in the streets and daily lives of the citizens. In addition, this Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, ensures that classroom curriculaintegrate human rights education at primary and secondary schools, and other academic institutions. Finally, the National Human Rights Commission has published a reference book on the domestic implementation of international instruments on human rights and develops educational programmes on human rights for public officials.

The texts of international conventions on human rights to which the Republic of Korea is a party have been disseminated in Korean. Information and reports from international organizations studying human rights are also available through the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Republic of Korea makes public domestically not only its periodic reports about the implementation of international conventions but also the concluding observations completed by international organizations under the conventions. The latest was the concluding observation on the second periodic report of the Republic with regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in January 2003.

Government representatives regularly participate in human rights seminars, courses and other similar events organized by other Governments, international organizations, and NGOs. The Government consults with NGOs in preparing national reports on the enforcement of international conventions on human rights.


Major statistics(Korea National Statistical Office)

Land and population: 1961-2000

Land area (km2)

Population (Thousands)

Rate of increase (Percentage)

M/F ratio*

Farm population


Percentage of totalpopulation


98 431

25 766



14 509



98 234

32 883



14 712



98 799

35 849



12 785



99 016

38 723



9 999



99 173

41 214



8 180



99 300

43 296



6 068



99 313

45 525



4 692



99 373

45 954



4 468



99 408

46 287



4 400



99 434

46 617



4 210



99 461

47 008



4 031


* Males per 100 females.

Population structure and dependency ratio: 1980-2000

0-14 years(Percentage)

15-64 years (Percentage)

65+ years (Percentage)

Dependency ratio (Percentage)














































Life expectancy: 1973-2000




























Infant mortality rate: 1965-1998





















Fertility rate: 1991-2000





















In births per 1,000 women.

Female‑headed households: 1975-2000

Female‑headed households(Thousand households)

Female‑headed households(Percentage of total ordinary households)





1 169



1 501



1 787



2 147



2 653


Economic indicators

GDP (US$ billion)

Per capita GNI (US$)

GDP growth (Percentage)

GDP deflator rate (Percentage)

Gross foreign liabilities (US$ million)

Unemployment (Percentage)












2 922






10 520



1 749



32 433



2 550



44 510



6 810



39 135




11 38 5



163 489




10 3 15



159 237




6 7 44



148 705




8 5 95



137 069


200 0


9 770



131 668