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Labour Law

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Korean labour law is typically made up of two major branches: individual employment law and collective labour law. In addition, there arise new branches of labour law, such as work councils law, labour market law and labour relations committee law. Despite the advent of the new branches, given their dominance in labour law discipline, the focus of the chapter will be put on the two traditional branches of law. Given its importance, however, the chapter includes work councils law in explaining collective labour law although they can be differentiated in terms of their nature.


  • Trade Union
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Employment Contract
  • Collective Agreement
  • Supreme Court Decision

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  1. 1.

    Probably what was the most conspicuous provision in the First Constitution in relation to labour rights is ‘employees’ equal right to share profits of a private company’ in the second sentence of a. 18. The second sentence was completely deleted when after the first military regime came to power, it comprehensively amended the First Constitution in 1963 (Lee HJ 2005).

  2. 2.

    All citizens shall have the right to work. The State shall endeavor to promote the employment of workers and to guarantee optimum wages through social and economic means and shall enforce a minimum wage system under the conditions prescribed by an Act [a. 32(1)].

  3. 3.

    Standards of working conditions shall be determined by an Act in such a way as to guarantee human dignity [a. 32(3)].

  4. 4.

    Special protection shall be accorded to working women and they shall not be subjected to unjust discrimination in terms of employment, wages, and working conditions [a. 32(4)].

  5. 5.

    To enhance working conditions, workers shall have the right to independent association, collective bargaining, and collective action [a. 33(1)].

  6. 6.

    Only those civil servants, who are designated by an Act, shall have the right to association, collective bargaining, and collective action [a. 33(2)].

  7. 7.

    The right to collective action of workers employed by important defence industries may be either restricted or denied under the conditions prescribed by an Act [a. 33(3)].

  8. 8.

    Constitutional Court Decision 89Hun-Ga106 Decided on July 22, 1991.

  9. 9.

    Constitutional Court Decision 90Hun-Ba27 Decided on April 28, 1992.

  10. 10.

    Constitutional Court Decision 89Hun-Ga106 Decided on July 22, 1991.

  11. 11.

    Constitutional Court Decision 94Hun-Ba13, 26, 95Hun-Ba44 Decided on February 27, 1998; Constitutional Court Decision 2003Hun-Ba28 Decided on August 26, 2004.

  12. 12.

    Constitutional Court Decision 2001Hun-Ga31 Decided on May, 15, 2003.

  13. 13.

    Supreme Court Decision 95Da20348 Decided on April 26, 1996; Supreme Court Decision 98Du9219 Decided on January 28, 2000; Supreme Court Decision 2002Da57959 Decided on January 10, 2003.

  14. 14.

    Supreme Court Decision 90Daka14758 Decided on June 28, 1991; Supreme Court Decision 90Daka11636 Decided on July 26, 1991.

  15. 15.

    Supreme Court Decision 99Da47129 Decided on May 16, 2000.

  16. 16.

    Supreme Court Decision 91Da27518 Decided on May 12, 1992; Supreme Court Decision 93Da49192 Decided on February 11, 1994.

  17. 17.

    Supreme Court Decision 2001Da29452 Decided on July 9, 2001.

  18. 18.

    Supreme Court Decision 91Da19463 Decided on December 10, 1992.

  19. 19.

    Supreme Court Decision 2000Du8455 Decided on March 29, 2002.

  20. 20.

    Supreme Court Decision 99Du2680 Decided on July 27, 2001.

  21. 21.

    Supreme Court Decision 2009Du19434 Decided on January 28, 2010.

  22. 22.

    As of 2009, trade union density in Korea is 10.1 %, which is 0.4 % point lower than the previous year.

  23. 23.

    Supreme Court Decision 94Nu3001 Decided on December 23, 1994; Supreme Court Decision 98Du6647 Decided on June 22, 1999.

  24. 24.

    Supreme Court Decision 90Do3031 Decided on March 27, 1991; Supreme Court Decision 92Da28556 Decided on June 24, 1994.

  25. 25.

    Supreme Court Decision 2002Da23185 Decided on May 14, 2004.

  26. 26.

    The accurateness of this figure is doubted by trade unions and some scholars. From the same statistics, they contend that non-standard workers constitutes 48.7 % of the Korean workforce. There has been controversy about the size of non-standard workers between trade unions and some scholars, on the one hand and the governments, on the other hand.

  27. 27.

    Kim Y (2011).

  28. 28.

    Supreme Court Decision 2008Du4367 Decided on July 22, 2010.

  29. 29.

    Supreme Court Decision 2007Du8881 Decided on March 25, 2010.

  30. 30.

    Supreme Court Decision 91Nu12257 Decided on April 27, 1993; Supreme Court Decision 91Nu10787 Decided on May 11, 1993.

  31. 31.

    Supreme Court Decision 2007Da51758 Decided on December 27, 2007.

  32. 32.

    Supreme Court Decision 90Do2771 Decided on Apri 23, 1991.

  33. 33.

    Constitutional Court Decision 97Hun-Ba23 Decided on July 16, 1998; Constitutional Court Decision 2009Hun-Ba168 Decided on April 29, 2010.

  34. 34.

    Supreme Court Decision 2007Do482 Decided on March 17, 2011.

  35. 35.

    Supreme Court Decision 2009Do11102 Decided on July 14, 2011.

  36. 36.

    Supreme Court Decision 95Do748 Decided on April 22, 1997.

  37. 37.

    Supreme Court Decision 2007Do5204 Decided on December 28, 2007.

  38. 38.

    Supreme Court Decision 2003Du8906 Decided on December 26, 2003.

  39. 39.

    Supreme Court Decision 2000Do2871 Decided on June 26, 2001; Supreme Court Decision 2004Do746 Decided on September 11, 2008.

  40. 40.

    Supreme Court Decision 98Da34331 Decided on May 26, 2000.


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Shim, J. (2013). Labour Law. In: Introduction to Korean Law. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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