The Korea Herald


15% of Korean workers beaten or cursed at in workplace: survey

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 10, 2023 - 16:43

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A survey released Sunday by a civic group showed that 15.3 percent of South Korean workers have been subject to direct physical or verbal abuse at work, highligthing the ongoing issue of workplace harassment.

Nongovernmental organization Workplace Gapjil 119 conducted a survey on 1,000 employed individuals across the country, asking if they have been subject to abuse. About 14.8 percent of office workers; 17.2 percent of those in manual labor; and 15.2 percent of those in service industries said they have been subject to some sort of physical or verbal violence while working.

Gapjil 119 said that it recorded 516 reports of workplace abuse from January to November, out of which 65 cases involved direct exercise of physical force. This included being hit; having objects thrown or swung; and retaliation after the victim reported to the authorities.

"When one has been assaulted at work, one needs to report the case to the police immediately in order to acquire the necessary evidence and to ensure that the perpetrator is punished," the group said, adding that the victim would need to file charges to the related branches of the Labor Ministry for violation of the Labor Standard Act.

"Gapjil" is a Korean term that refers to a situation in which a person abuses his or her superior position to take advantage of or harass another person in an inferior position. It is most commonly used to refer to workplace harassment.

A July survey by the same group on 1,000 South Korean workers showed that 33.3 percent have been subject to some type of abuse in their career. Verbal abuse was the most common form with 22.2 percent, followed by inappropriate commands at 17.2 percent.

In one of the cases reported to the civic group, an employee was forced to kneel down for 20 minutes after failing to answer the CEO's question.