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The Peninsula

National Call for Child Protection

Published January 22, 2021
Author: Korea View

What Happened

  • A 16-month-old toddler was killed by her adoptive parents in 2020.
  • An investigative report revealed that the police and other protective services were aware of possible abuse prior to her death.
  • A nation-wide campaign led to the National Assembly Legislative Judiciary Council advancing new legislation requiring public agencies to investigate all reports of child abuse.

Implications: Despite the South Korean government’s usual reservations about intervening in family matters, it was responsive to a widespread public campaign. Recent revelation about the death of a 16-month old toddler led to a social media campaign that held the police and child welfare agencies accountable for their failure to properly investigate reports of abuse. Within four days of this campaign, the ruling party proposed 11 new acts, including measures allowing protective services to immediately separate children suspected of abuse from their parents.

Context: Reported cases of child abuse in Korea have been steadily increasing, reaching 15,929 in 2020. Despite this growing problem, the Korean government has been hesitant to intervene. Such aversion may stem from cultural attitudes that place family matters in a private sphere. Given this attitude, some observers sought to direct blame towards the adoption system, but a social consensus has formed around the importance of fortifying child protection measures.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Sophie Joo and Chris Lee. Photo from hjl’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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