The Daily Telegraph

S Korea ban on covert filming ‘could protect abusive bosses’

- By Nicola Smith ASIA CORRESPOND­ENT

SOUTH KOREA is considerin­g banning covert filming and recording, prompting fears such a move could protect abusive bosses who beat and abuse their staff.

A law proposed by the ruling People Power Party, could impose jail sentences of up to 10 years on anyone found to have recorded conversati­ons without consent. The law’s supporters say that it upholds privacy and the constituti­onal “right to pursue happiness”.

But it has created a backlash among those who argue such recordings can be a valuable way of battling unfair workplace practices and have been used effectivel­y as evidence in court battles.

In recent years, clips of conversati­ons revealing workplace bullying have provoked public outrage and prompted calls for an end to the practice known as gapjil – Korean for powerful people who lord over their subordinat­es.

The nation has been shaken by allegation­s of elite families who dominate the upper echelons of politics and business abusing their power.

In 2020, Lee Myung-hee, the matriarch of the Korean Air dynasty, was handed a suspended sentence for beating and insulting nine workers 22 times between 2011 and 2018.

The accusation­s against her included throwing a pair of pruning shears at a security guard and kicking and injuring a chauffeur. The abuses came to light early in 2018 when footage emerged of her cursing and pushing constructi­on workers at a hotel.

The family gained earlier infamy in a 2014 “nut rage” incident when Ms Lee’s daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, ordered a Korean Air plane to return to the gate at John F Kennedy airport in New York because her macadamia nuts had been served in an unopened package.

In another case that went viral, Yang Jin-ho, chairman of Korea Future Technology, was jailed in 2020 for crimes including assault after video emerged of him physically abusing an employee and making others shoot a chicken with a bow and arrow before decapitati­ng it.

On newswire Yonhap, a nationwide poll by Realmeter revealed most people were against the ban, with 64.1 per cent saying that recordings could be used to protect people from injustice and report irregulari­ties in whistleblo­wing cases.

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