February 2023 | Court recognizes same-sex partners for first time
A high court on 21 February 2023 ordered the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) to provide spousal coverage to same-sex couples, marking the first time a court has legally recognized social benefits for same-sex couples in South Korea. The ruling overturned a lower court ruling in January 2022 that declined to recognize the same-sex couples as common law spouses. While hailed as a leap forward in expanding LGBTQIA+ rights, significant barriers remain, with one of the petitioning partners noting that "The right we've obtained is 1 out of 1,000 that a [heterosexual] married couple has had." Despite its narrow reach, rights activists remain hopeful that the verdict will establish a precedent for enabling future rulings based on the same principles of equality and non-discrimination. NHIS plans to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.
December 2022 | Alleged labour right violations amid truckers’ strike
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Seoul on 3 December to denounce the government's attempts to force thousands of striking truckers back to work following a 16-day strike over minimum wage protections. The Yoon government invoked a never-used 2004 law on 29 November to force the striking truckers back to work or face up to three years of imprisonment or hefty fines. Critics allege that the Yoon administration's work order suppresses protesters' labour rights. The strikes are a continuation of protests held earlier this year in April.
November 2022 | Concerns over restrictions on press freedom
Media, experts, and opposition parties have raised concerns over growing press freedom violations by the Yoon Suk-Yeol government over the past month. Some of these moves include barring a major media outlet - Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) - from joining a travelling press pool, as well as the government’s announced funding cuts for 2024 to a popular radio broadcaster - Traffic Broadcasting System (TBS) – amid claims of political bias in its programmes seen as having an unfavourable disposition toward the Yoon-Suk-Yeol administration.
October 2022 | President seeks to abolish gender equality ministry
President Yoon Suk-yeoul announced on 6 October that following his campaign pledge, the government will move ahead with abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. While the plan is still subject to approval by the National Assembly, the move threatens to be a major setback for women's rights as they continue to face systematic discrimination. Activists and politicians have furthermore criticized the president for capitalizing on the country's "anti-feminism" movement in mobilizing young men during the 2022 election to fulfil his promise.