The Korea Herald


Only 1 out of 10 victims of workplace bullying report it: survey

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : June 24, 2024 - 12:02

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Most victims of workplace bullying in South Korea refrain from filing formal complaints about it to the authorities or their employers, a survey showed Monday.

Gabjil 119, a civic group that assists victims of workplace abuse, conducted a survey of 1,000 employees and found that only 10.3 percent of respondents said they have filed a report against such cases. The survey allowed respondents to pick multiple responses.

Of those who sought outside help, only 8.1 percent reported such cases to the company or the labor union, and a mere 2.2 percent filed a report at government agencies such as the National Human Rights Commission of Korea or Ministry of Employment and Labor.

Some 27.2 percent said they tried the moderate response of "complaining to their colleagues," rather than filing a formal complaint.

A far more popular choice was to "refrain from responding or try to ignore" being bullied, with over half -- 60.6 percent -- saying they did so.

Another 23.1 percent said they quit their jobs due to workplace bullying.

The majority of respondents -- 62.8 percent -- said their supervisors did not provide an appropriate response to workplace bullying. In one case mentioned by the civic group, one victim of workplace bullying was relocated to another department for reporting having been bullied to the authorities.

Article 76 of Korea's Labor Standards Act bans workplace harassment or bullying, and specifies countermeasures for such violations in Article 76-3. These measures include an immediate objective investigation by the employer and immediate protective measures provided by the employer for the alleged victim, such as allowing the victim to work at a different location or giving them a paid leave of absence during the investigative process to verify the victim's claims.

Numbers have indicated that workplace harassment or bullying -- a form of gapjil -- have been on the upward trend in Korea. April data by the Ministry of Employment and Labor showed that 10,028 cases of workplace bullying were reported in 2023 -- the first time the figure surpassed the 10,000 mark.

The number of workplace bullying cases here has increased every year since the government started tallying figures in July 2019: 5,823 in 2020, 7,774 in 2021 and 8,961 in 2022.