The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations
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The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations

Edited by Young-Myon Lee and Bruce E. Kaufman

The Evolution of Korean Industrial and Employment Relations explores current employment and workplace relations practice in South Korea, tracing their origins to key historical events and giving cultural, politico-economic and global context to the inevitable cultural adaptation in one of Asia’s ‘miraculous’ democracies.
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Chapter 12: Worker rights

Hyuk Kwon


This chapter details the legal framework, precedents and judicial direction of worker rights and enforcement in Korea. Korean labor and union law was established in 1953, and the labor law system covers three distinct areas: the contractual relationship between individual workers and employers; the process and rights for organizing and dissolving labor unions and their operating principles; and the legal system related to the operation of labor-management councils within the workplace. Despite a strong legal framework in many dimensions such as dismissal protections, worker rights are eroded through restrictions on industrial action, cultural practice, lack of enforcement, and the inconsistency and capriciousness of judicial rulings.

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