The Korea Herald


Korea should provide foreign residents with COVID-19 subsidy: Human rights commission

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : July 7, 2023 - 15:51

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National Human Rights Commission of Korea National Human Rights Commission of Korea

South Korea’s human rights commission said Friday that North Jeolla Province has accepted its recommendation to rectify discrimination against foreign residents by including them in COVID-19 subsidy programs.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea had previously determined in 2021 that North Jeolla Province's failure to provide COVID-19 subsidies to foreign residents constituted discrimination. Consequently, in a recommendation issued last December to the regional governor, it suggested an extension of these subsidies to foreign residents.

As the local economy stagnated due to the spread of COVID-19 in 2021, North Jeolla Province provided COVID-19 subsidies to residents as "disaster support funds." The province paid out 100,000 won ($76) per person, and the total amount distributed was about 180 billion won.

The subsidy was paid based on an ordinance enacted by the provincial council. Initially, only those living in the region with resident registration numbers were eligible, but marriage immigrants and permanent foreign residents were added to expand the scope of payment. However, other foreign residents were not included in the payment list.

The state human rights watchdog called for providing all residents, including foreign residents, with COVID-19 subsidies, saying that excluding people because they have different nationalities was a discriminatory act that violates the right to equality.

The NHRC recommendation, although not legally binding, was made in response to a complaint lodged by a foreign resident in North Jeolla Province.

According to the NHRC, the governor replied the would "actively consider revising the ordinance so that foreign residents would not be discriminated against if the situation of providing disaster support funds for provincial residents occurs again.”

The human rights watchdog said it welcomed the governor's decision to accept the commission's recommendation.