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Discrimination against people affected by leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) in Korea SANG KWON JUNG, IDEA KOREA.

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Presentation on theme: "Discrimination against people affected by leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) in Korea SANG KWON JUNG, IDEA KOREA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Discrimination against people affected by leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) in Korea SANG KWON JUNG, IDEA KOREA



4 Medical Aspect 12 New patients (Jan 2008~present) the disease itself does not pose a contagious risk

5 Economic Aspect People once affected by Hansen’s Diseases are achieving economic independence through farming activities

6 Social Aspect Discrimination from society is continuing According to the 2005 report titled ‘The Report of the state of Human Rights of people affected by Hansen’s Disease’, it is evident that prejudice exists

7 “Would you use facilities such as public bath houses and hairdressers if they were also used by people affected by Hansen’s Disease?” 19.6%: I would use it 50.8%: I wouldn’t want to use it very much 28.1%: I would never use it

8 “If a family member were to marry a person affected by HD, what would you do?” 7.1%: I would accept them 86.7%: I would disagree with it 6.2%: I don’t know / No response


10 The Forced Isolation Era (1913~1963) 1392~1897 Discrimination against people with HD has been recorded since the Joeson Dynasty 1910~1945 During the Japanese occupation of Korea, medical reasons were used to spread institutional discrimination and exclusion nationwide

11 The Forced Isolation Era (1913~1963) 1913~ Forced isolation was initiated, but the goal of isolation was not for medical treatment but to limit infection Patients did not receive appropriate treatment and were forced into labor, and the mortality of patients was very high as a result

12 The Forced Isolation Era (1913~1963) In addition, social prejudice about the disease became more widespread and gained legitimacy through medical authorities

13 It can be reasoned that these policies were substantial in influencing the mass murder of HD patients throughout Korea by civilians in the 1950s


15 Between 1945 and 1957, over 300 HD patients were murdered by hospital workers, police, army and civilians over 11 incidents

16 Aug, 1945 Sorok Island Hospital Incident Workers of the hospital feared losing control to HD patients, and 84 patients were murdered as a result

17 The Memorial Monument for 84 people who were murdered at Sorok Island

18 June, 1947 An-dong Child Abduction Suspect Incident 3 HD patients suspected of abducting a child were murdered by police officers without due process

19 Sep, 1949 Mu-an Incident While attempting to quell violence after a prison escape, 40 people affected by HD living nearby were murdered

20 1950~1953 Incidents during the Korean War The South and North Korean army, police, and due to communism, around 150 HD patients were murdered over 7 incidents

21 Aug, 1957 Sa-chon Bi-to-ri Incident To preserve food supplies, residents of an island ambushed and attacked HD patients living on the island, resulting in 30 deaths and tens of injured

22 Relative Isolation Era (1963-present) Enactment of resettlement village policies Korea abolished forced isolation policies, and made it possible for people affected by HD to become economically independent in resettlement villages, called the ‘Resettlement Village Policy’

23 Relative Isolation Era (1963-present) It is recognized that HD is not highly contagious but the isolation policy was also a product of the fact that the Korean Government did not have resources to accommodate people in appropriate facilities

24 Relative Isolation Era (1963-present) Also, it was hoped that if they achieved economic independence, prejudice about them would decrease, so they achieved economic independence through farming activities

25 Relative Isolation Era (1963-present) However, the socially embedded prejudice and discrimination against people affected by HD continued to persist As a result, resettlement villages constructed after the abolishment of forced isolation policies had the effect of limiting true social reintegration


27 Institutional Discrimination Sterilization and Abortion Sterilization and abortion practices from the Japanese occupation which persisted after liberation According to an annual report by the Sorok Island Hospital in 1958, 1,191 HD patients received sterilization procedures from 1949 to 1958

28 The sterilization operation room at Sorok Island

29 Institutional Discrimination Forced separation of children from HD patients Even if HD patients were able to have a child, they were not allowed to live together and had to be sent to a state institution

30 Children separated from their parents

31 Institutional Discrimination Forced Isolation and Relocation The policy of forcibly placing HD patients in isolation was carried over from the Japanese occupation, and even after liberation, was continued by the Korean government until the 1980s

32 Institutional Discrimination Forced isolation and forced relocation Despite the rehabilitation village system being established in 1963, the national policy was to force people affected by HD into Sorok Island The policy remained in effect until 2005

33 Discrimination in the Media There have been public messages spreading prejudice and fear about HD from the beginning of the Japanese occupation This continued even after liberation, and because of this people affected by HD face prejudice on a regular basis

34 Discrimination in the Media Such messages portrayed the HD community to be a dangerous threat to society and favored forced isolation of HD patients In the 1990s, a rumor placed the responsibility of kidnappings in the city of Daegu on people affected by HD, causing great harm to the people affected by HD in the community


36 Discrimination from Society Discrimination in the school system There have been incidents across South Korea where parents have refused to have their children attend schools with children of people affected by HD during the 1970s

37 Discrimination from Society Discrimination in hiring practices If a candidate is known to have HD, it becomes extremely difficult to obtain the position

38 Discrimination from Society O-mado land reclamation incident A land reclamation project was started, to enable people affected by HD to have self sufficient food supplies, but because of protest and action from local residents and politicians, the land from the project was expropriated

39 O-mado land reclamation project

40 Discrimination from Society Difficulties using public facilities Many people affected by HD have the experience of being refused entry into public bath houses, hairdressers, and restaurants


42 Change of Terminology There has been a continuing effort to alter the terminology, and in December 1999, at a general meeting of the Korean National Assembly, a matter was passed to use the term ‘Hansen’s Disease’ instead of the term ‘leprosy’

43 Change of Terminology After this, there was an effort to monitor the abasement or the use of false information regarding people affected by HD

44 Investigation of the human rights of people affected by HD National-level investigation of the human rights violation of people affected by HD for the first time in 2005

45 Establishment of the special law for HD patients In 2007, a special law protecting the human rights of HD patients was passed through the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea

46 Coming out People affected by HD who were active in society began to express their experience of having the disease An example is Mr. Doo Sung Lim who received recognition for services to improving the human rights of people affected by HD in 2008 and was elected as an assembly man of the Republick of Korea


48 As a result, there is a need to develop tools to uproot the prejudice and discrimination against people affected by HD There are continuing efforts to develop an array of such tools in Korea to change social perceptions

49 The medical and institutional issues around HD have been largely resolved The prejudice and discrimination in common society is deeply rooted Because of this, the true social reintegration of people affected by HD is still far off

50 End

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