Republic of Korea

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CountryRepublic of Korea
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is prohibited.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from the Republic of Korea shows that there is still much to be done, especially in the areas of education and administration of child justice, to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The education system is overburdened and offers little time for recreation, driving many children to suicide. The impact of climate change on South Korea is not addressed at all.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends to effectively address adolescent pregnancy, including by strengthening sexuality education at school, support services during pregnancy and childbirth and postnatal care, ensuring parenting support and promoting equally shared parenting.
The Committee is concerned about the lack of adequate and age-appropriate education on sexuality, in the context of adolescent pregnancies and increased HIV prevalence. It therefore recommends to provide age-appropriate sexual education, pay special attention to preventing adolescent pregnancies and HIV/AIDS, adequately cover sexual orientation and gender identity, and remove discriminatory and gender stereotypical language from the national standard on school sexual education.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee notes the adoption of a comprehensive plan for people with disabilities and the increase in education professionals, in training and in the budget allocated to meeting the needs of children with disabilities. To further improve the situation, the Committee urges the State party to review legislation and policies to adopt a rights-based approach to disability and ensure the inclusion of all children with disabilities as well as to ensure that early detection and intervention programmes, including rehabilitation treatment, appropriate welfare and medical support, are provided countrywide to all children with disabilities, including asylum-seeking and migrant children with disabilities. Republic of Korea should also provide inclusive education for all children with disabilities, including by ensuring the presence of reasonable accommodations in the school infrastructure, in places for sport and leisure, in school transportation, in training and by assigning specialized teachers and assistants to provide individual support. Also, the State party should undertake awareness-raising campaigns to promote a positive image of children with disabilities and combat stigmatization and prejudice.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee urges the State party to prohibit the immigration detention of children, including by revising the Immigration Control Act, ensure non-custodial solutions and keep the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in asylum and family reunification matters. Also, the Committee urges the State Party to develop status determination procedures for refugee and stateless children, regulate the status of long-term resident migrant children and strengthen training on the rights of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children, including undocumented children. The State party should further remove all barriers, both legislative and practical, to ensure that all asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied children and those with disabilities, have access to birth registration, childcare, education and related services, mental and physical health-care services, health insurance, financial and housing support, leisure, protection and support services in case of abuse on an equal basis with children who are nationals of the Republic of Korea. In addition to that, Republic of Korea should adopt and implement an act on the rights of migrant children that is in compliance with the Convention, paying particular attention to the need to protect unaccompanied children as well as develop campaigns to counter hate speech against asylum seekers and refugees, particularly children.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
Digital possibilitiesThe Committee welcomes the establishment of the online birth registration and notification systems. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that birth registration, including online, is universal and available to all children regardless of their parents’ legal status or origins.
physical health

The Committee welcomes the extension of vaccinations to undocumented children. The Committee recommends to increase the health budget and strengthen local hospitals and
ensure universal access to national health insurance, especially for economically vulnerable groups of children and migrant children. Further, the State party should improve the accessibility of vaccinations for migrant children and strengthen health-care assistance in nurseries and schools, including for diabetic and obese children.

Concerning adolescent health, the Committee recommends to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol. The Committee further recommends to strengthen prevention measures of obesity, smoking and drinking, including by imposing stricter regulations on alcohol advertising, increasing the number of smoke-free spaces, promoting sports and physical activities and encouraging children’s participation in life-skills education on preventing substance abuse.

Relation to other countries
mental health

While noting the establishment of a national action plan for suicide prevention, the Committee is seriously concerned that the high rates of child suicide, due in particular to problems in the family, depression, academic pressure and bullying, represent a leading cause of death among children. It notes with concern the lack of a systematic approach and a dedicated budget for addressing suicides and their root causes. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its efforts to effectively prevent suicides among children and to address their root causes, as previously recommended, through comprehensive policies, psychological, educational and social measures and therapies for children, families and the public at large.

Business sector

The Committee is concerned about reports of children’s rights violations resulting from business activities by companies of the Republic of Korea operating domestically and abroad. The Committee urges the State party to establish a child protection framework for companies in the State party operating domestically and abroad. Such a framework should include mechanisms for conducting child rights impact assessments and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, in order to report and address children’s rights violations, and should make it clear that all stakeholders are responsible for fulfilling and protecting children’s rights.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee welcomes the amendment to the Juvenile Act making it possible to count the period spent in a juvenile reformatory as part of the final sentence. However, it is concerned about the existence of two parallel systems for processing and reports of violations of children’s fair trial rights, including the non-involvement of guardians from the investigation onwards, the use of forced confessions, the lack of access to evidence and appeal, breaches of the presumption of innocence and the right to defend oneself, publicity of the trial and making conditional the right to legal assistance. In addition, there are higher detention rates among children compared with adults and the conditions of detention are inappropriate, including overcrowding and insufficient medical assistance, education, training, leisure and food, especially for girls; restrictions on communications, petitions and outdoor exercise. There are also cases of children detained together with adults and the lack of non-custodial measures to prevent reoffending.

To improve the situation, the Committee recommends, among other things, to establish a system with adequate resources of specialized child justice courts for all cases involving children in contact with the law and ensure that specialized judges for children and professionals working with children in conflict with the law receive appropriate education and continuous training on the rights of the child. The State party should also ensure that detention conditions, including for temporary detentions, comply with international standards, including with regard to personal space, equally for boys and girls, access to food, education, physical and mental health services, exercise, leisure, communication with the family and complaints mechanisms and that children deprived of their liberty are held in facilities close to their place of residence; and that detention facilities, including child welfare institutions, undergo continuous monitoring.

Specific observations

The Committee welcomes the adoption of the Special Act on the Promotion of the Normalization of Public Education and Regulation of Prior Learning, which aims to eradicate the practice of prior learning (i.e., the taking of private classes at the preschool level in preparation for school), the extension of the school admission quota for vulnerable groups of children, the introduction of the “free semester system” and the provision of support to out-of-school children. However, it remains deeply concerned about the excessive academic burden, accompanied by sleep deprivation and high levels of stress, which is a leading cause of suicide among children in the State party. It is also seriously concerned about the highly competitive education conditions, which virtually deprive children of their childhood, and also about the severe lack of time and of free and safe facilities for leisure, play and physical exercise for children, which, coupled with social pressure to excel academically, contributes to smartphone overuse for recreation.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the fifth and sixth periodic reports released on 24 October 2019.More information about education in Korea: and

Last Updated (date)23rd of February, 2022