S-Space College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원) The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law (JKL) Journal of Korean Law Volume 09 Number 1/2 (2009)
Addressing Labor Rights Abuses at Overseas Korean Companies: The Role of the Korean State
- Wolman, Andrew
- Issue Date
- BK 21 law
- Journal of Korean Law, Vol.9 No.2, pp. 173-200
- Labor Rights; Extraterritoriality; Corporate Social Responsibility; OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
- Over the past few decades, Korean-owned companies have greatly expanded their operations overseas, especially in Latin America and Southeast Asia. One issue that has occasionally arisen as part of this outward expansion is the occurrence of abusive labor practices by Korean employers overseas. Overseas labor rights violations are one of the most difficult types of human rights problems to address, as oftentimes the host state lacks adequate legal mechanisms to address the violation, and international law does not directly regulate multinational corporations. Thus, many believe that the corporations home state should play a role in addressing overseas labor rights issues. This article analyzes the reaction of the Korean government to such overseas labor abuses by Korean companies. It describes current extraterritorial laws that can be used to curb labor abuses, as well as the steps taken by the Korean government in promoting corporate social responsibility, managing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, educating overseas corporations in good labor practices, and assisting in resolving overseas labor disputes. It concludes with recommendations on additional steps the government can do more to reduce overseas labor abuses.