Half of Korean firms say anti-bullying act ambiguous: survey

By Shin Ji-hye
  • Published : Jul 9, 2019 - 15:54
  • Updated : Jul 9, 2019 - 15:57

With the new anti-office bullying act coming into force next Tuesday, over half of surveyed companies in South Korea said the regulations are ambiguous and that voluntary change within each firm should come before legal measures.

According to a poll of 300 Korean firms conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry last week, most large conglomerates said they had made due preparations, while some 20 percent of small and midsized businesses said they were not yet ready.

Almost all, or 95.7 percent, of the respondents, said bullying could be eradicated first by changing the workplace culture rather than through legal restrictions.


The anti-office bullying act, an amendment to the Labor Standards Act, compels employers to take appropriate measures to prohibit workplace harassment and protect victims.

With office bullying generally associated with top-down harassment, the highest number of respondents (35.3 percent) cited as the main cause differences in opinions between generations regarding workplace manners and personal time.

Twenty-three percent blamed a pyramid-type hierarchical structure, and 17.4 percent of the employees picked the lack of communication between management and employees.

To address workplace bullying, 32.1 percent of the employees said companies need to adopt a horizontal corporate culture, and 24.2 percent of the workers said that training to understand different generations and diversity is needed.

Twenty-one percent of the respondents said communication channels between management and employees are needed, while 13.2 percent said there should be company rules related to bullying.

In preparing for effectuation of the law, 45.5 percent said the definition of office bullying was ambiguous, while 37.2 percent said there was lack of information as to how to prevent it.

“While the government has released a manual on the law, there is still ambiguity in the regulations and punishment, giving us reasons to worry about adverse effects. Law is the minimum level of countermeasures, and it should come with active campaigns to reduce friction among colleagues,” said a Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry official. (