Data Dashboards

Republic of Korea
Measuring the Change

using prevalence data providing the widest temporal coverage of the most complete and comparable measures available by ICLS standards.

Due to lack of nationally representative data, there is no change to report.

Best Target 8.7 Data: Child Labour Rate

No data available

Data Availability
  • Child labour: No ILO/UNICEF data
  • Forced labour: No nationally representative data
  • Human trafficking: No nationally representative data
Human Development

Human Development Index Score: 0.916 (2019)

Mean School Years: 12.2 years (2019)


Labour Indicators

Vulnerable Employment: 23.5% (2018)

Working Poverty Rate: 0.0% (2020)

Government Efforts
International Aid Commitments

Total Development Assistance to Anti-Slavery (2000-2013):

569,270 USD

Key Ratifications
  • ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, P029: Not Ratified
  • ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C182: Ratified 2001
  • UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol): Ratified 2015
Social Protection Coverage

General (at least one): 65.7% (2016)

Unemployed: 40.0% (2014)

Pension: 100% (2014)

Vulnerable: No data

Children: No data

Disabled: 12.8% (2014)

Poor: 21.4% (2016)

Measurement of child labour prevalence has evolved considerably over the past two decades. Estimates of child labour incidence are more robust and exist for more countries than any other form of exploitation falling under SDG Target 8.7.

SDG Indicator 8.7.1, Economic Activity (Source: ILO)

While the concept of child labour includes working in activities that are hazardous in nature, to ensure comparability of estimates over time and to minimize data quality issues, work beyond age-specific hourly thresholds is used as a proxy for hazardous work for the purpose of reporting on SDG indicator 8.7.1. Similarly, while the worst forms of child labour other than hazardous also form part of the concept of child labour more broadly, data on the worst forms of child labour are not currently captured in regular household surveys given difficulties with accurately and reliably measuring it. Therefore, this element of child labour is not captured by the indicators used for reporting on SDG 8.7.1.   

In accordance with the ICLS resolutions, child labour can be measured on the basis of the production boundary set by the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA), which limits the frame of reference to economic activity.

The chart displays the proportion and number of children aged 5-17 years engaged in economic activities at or above age-specific hourly thresholds in Republic of Korea for the year 2017. Gender disaggregated data is provided for 2017.

SDG Indicator 8.7.1, Household Chores (Source: ILO)

In addition to being measured on the basis of SNA, child labour can also be measured on the basis of the general production boundary, which includes economic activity and unpaid household services, that is, the production of domestic and personal services by a household member for consumption within their own household, commonly called “household chores”.

The chart displays the proportion of children aged 5-17 years engaged in economic activities and household chores at or above age-specific hourly thresholds in Republic of Korea for the year 2017. Gender disaggregated data is provided for 2017.

Measuring the incidence of forced labour is a much more recent endeavour and presents unique methodological challenges compared to the measurement of child labour.

No nationally representative data is available on forced labour prevalence in Republic of Korea.

Visit the How to Measure the Change page for information on new guidelines presented by the International Labour Organization and adopted by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.

The challenges in estimating human trafficking are similar to those of estimating forced labour, though recent innovations in estimation have begun to produce prevalence estimates in developed countries.

No nationally representative data is available on human trafficking prevalence in Republic of Korea.

Visit the How to Measure the Change page to learn about measuring human trafficking prevalence, including information on collecting data through national referral mechanisms and producing prevalence statistics using Multiple Systems Estimation (MSE).

Case Data: International and Non-Governmental Organizations

Civil society organizations (CSOs) focused on human trafficking victim assistance can serve as crucial sources of data given their ability to reach a population that is notoriously difficult to sample.

Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC): The International Organization for Migration (IOM), Polaris and Liberty Asia have launched a global data repository on human trafficking, with data contributed by counter-trafficking partner organizations around the world. Not only does the CTDC serve as a central repository for this critical information, it also publishes normed and harmonized data from various organizations using a unified schema. This global dataset facilitates an unparalleled level of cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provides the counter-trafficking movement with a deeper understanding of this complex issue. Equipped with this information, decision makers will be empowered to create more targeted and effective intervention strategies.

Prosecution Data

UNODC compiles a global dataset on detected and prosecuted traffickers, which serves as the basis in their Global Report for country profiles. This information is beginning to paint a picture of trends over time, and case-specific information can assist investigators and prosecutors.

Key aspects of human development, such as poverty and lack of education, are found to be associated with risk of exploitation. Policies that address these issues may indirectly contribute to getting us closer to achieving Target 8.7.

Human Development Index (Source: UNDP)

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in three key dimensions of human development: (1) a long and healthy life; (2) access to knowledge; and (3) a decent standard of living. Human development can factor into issues of severe labour exploitation in multiple ways.

The chart displays information on human development in Republic of Korea between 1990 and 2019. Only certain sample years have data disaggregated by sex. 

The most recent year of the HDI, 2019, shows that the average human development score in Republic of Korea is 0.916. This score indicates that human development is very high. 


HDI Education Index (Source: UNDP)

Lack of education and illiteracy are key factors that make both children and adults more vulnerable to exploitive labour conditions.

As the seminal ILO report Profits and Poverty explains:

“Adults with low education levels and children whose parents are not educated are at higher risk of forced labour. Low education levels and illiteracy reduce employment options for workers and often force them to accept work under poor conditions. Furthermore, individuals who can read contracts may be in a better position to recognize situations that could lead to exploitation and coercion.”

The bars on the chart represent the Education Index score and the line traces the mean years of education in Republic of Korea over time.


Decent work, a major component of SDG 8 overall, has clear implications on the forms of exploitation within Target 8.7. Identifying shortcomings in the availability of equitable, safe and stable employment can be a step in the right direction towards achieving Target 8.7.

HDI Vulnerable Employment (Source: UNDP)

There are reasons to believe that certain types of labour and labour arrangements are more likely to lead to labour exploitation. According to the ILO:

“Own-account workers and contributing family workers have a lower likelihood of having formal work arrangements, and are therefore more likely to lack elements associated with decent employment, such as adequate social security and a voice at work. The two statuses are summed to create a classification of ‘vulnerable employment’, while wage and salaried workers together with employers constitute ‘non-vulnerable employment’.”

Between 1991 and 2018, Republic of Korea showed a decrease in the proportion of workers in vulnerable employment as compared to those in secure employment.


Labour Productivity (Source: ILO)

Labour productivity is an important economic indicator that is closely linked to economic growth, competitiveness, and living standards within an economy.” However, when increased labour output does not produce rising wages, this can point to increasing inequality. As indicated by a recent ILO report (2015), there is a “growing disconnect between wages and productivity growth, in both developed and emerging economies”. The lack of decent work available increases vulnerability to situations of labour exploitation. 

Labour productivity represents the total volume of output (measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) produced per unit of labour (measured in terms of the number of employed persons) during a given period.


Rates of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Source: ILO)

Data on occupational health and safety may reveal conditions of exploitation, even if exploitation may lead to under-reporting of workplace injuries and safety breaches. At present, the ILO collects data on occupational injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, disaggregating by sex and migrant status.

Research to date suggests that a major factor in vulnerability to labour exploitation is broader social vulnerability, marginalization or exclusion.

Groups Highly Vulnerable to Exploitation (Source: UNHCR)

Creating effective policy to prevent and protect individuals from forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour means making sure that all parts of the population are covered, particularly the most vulnerable groups, including migrants.

According to the 2016 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: “Almost one of every four victims of forced labour were exploited outside their country of residence, which points to the high degree of risk associated with migration in the modern world, particularly for migrant women and children. “

As IOM explains: “Although most migration is voluntary and has a largely positive impact on individuals and societies, migration, particularly irregular migration, can increase vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation.” UNODC similarly notes that: “The vulnerability to being trafficked is greater among refugees and migrants in large movements, as recognized by Member States in the New York declaration for refugees and migrants of September 2016.”

The chart displays UNHCR’s estimates of persons of concern in Republic of Korea.

Underdevelopment influences and is influenced by Target 8.7 forms of exploitation. This suggests an important role for development assistance and programming in addressing these issues.

Yearly ODA Commitments to Anti-Slavery (Data Source: UNU-CPR)

A recent report released by UNU-CPR attempts to size ODA contributions that focus on tackling SDG 8.7 forms of exploitation. The Republic of Korea committed 569,270 USD between 2000 and 2013 on anti-slavery programming. Annual commitments fluctuate, though it is important to note that commitments at any point in time may be dispersed over the course of several years. The chart also depicts the percentage of Republic of Korea’s GNI contributed to ODA. It should also be noted that this count does not include non-ODA assistance, domestic expenditure, or the growing flows of charitable giving directed at these concerns. The data source provides information up to 2013.

More current data may show a significant increase in spending on this programming, especially after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 and the Call to Action in 2017.

Achieving SDG Target 8.7 will require national governments to take direct action against the forms of exploitation through policy implementation.

Official Definitions
Forced Labour

Labor Standards Act (Law No. 5309), 1997

“Article 7 (Prohibition of Forced Labor)
No employer shall force a worker to work against his own free will through the use of violence, intimidation, confinement or any other means which unlawfully restrict mental or physical freedom.”

Child Labour

Labor Standards Act (Law No. 5309), 1997

“Chapter V Females and Minors
Article 64 (Minimum Age and Employment Permit)
(1) A person under the age of 15 (including those under the age of 18 who are attending a middle school pursuant to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) shall not be employed as a worker. However a person with an employment permit issued by the Minister of Employment and Labor in accordance with the criteria prescribed by the Presidential Decree may be employed as a worker.
(2) The employment permit referred to in paragraph (1) may be issued at the request of the person himself only by designating the type of occupation in which he is engaged, provided that such employment will not impede his/her compulsory education.
(3) If a person receives the employment permit prescribed in paragraph (1) in a false or other fraudulent pretence, the Minister of Employment and Labor shall cancel the permission.”

“Article 66 (Minor Certificate)
For each minor under 18, an employer shall keep in the workplace a certificate proving his/her family relationships and a written consent of his/her parent or guardian.”

“Article 67 (Labor Contract)
(1) Neither parent nor guardian shall enter into a labor contract on behalf of a minor.
(2) A parent and/or guardian of a minor, or the Minister of Employment and Labor may terminate a labor contract, if a labor contract is deemed disadvantageous to the minor.
(3) If an employer makes a labor contract with a person under the age of 18, the employer shall specify the working conditions in writing and issue the same pursuant to Article 17.”

“Article 68 (Claim for Wages)
A minor may claim his wages in his own right.”

“Article 69 (Working Hours)
Working hours of a person aged between 15 and 18 shall not exceed seven hours per day and forty hours per week. However, the working hours may be extended up to an hour per day, or six hours per week, by an agreement between the parties concerned.”

Human Trafficking

Act on the Punishment of Arrangement of Commercial Sex Acts, etc, 2004

“Article 2 (Definitions)
(1) The terms used in this Act shall mean as follows:
3. The term “”human traffic aimed at sexual traffic”” means doing an act falling under any of the following items:

(a) Transferring targeted persons to a third person while holding them under control and management by a deceptive scheme, by force or by other means equivalent thereto for the purposes of making them sell sex or do obscene acts referred to in Article 245 of the Criminal Act, or using them as an object of pictures, videos, etc. depicting sexual intercourse and other obscene scenes;
(b) Transferring to a third person juveniles as defined in subparagraph 1 of Article 2 of the Juvenile Protection Act (hereinafter referred to as “”juvenile””), persons who have no or weak ability to discern things or make decisions, or persons with serious disabilities determined by Presidential Decree who are targeted for the same purposes as those under item (a) while holding them under control and management in return for providing or promising to provide money or valuables, such as pre-payments, and other property gains to such juveniles or persons or to persons who protect or guard the said persons;
(c) Transferring targeted persons for the same purposes as those under item (a) or for the purpose of resale, in awareness that acts referred to in items (a) and (b) take place;
(d) Recruiting, moving and hiding targeted persons for acts referred to in items (a) through (c);”

Governments can take action to assist victims and to prevent and end the perpetration of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour. These actions should be considered in wider societal efforts to reduce prevalence and move towards eradication of these forms of exploitation.

Programs and Agencies for Victim Support

Policies for Assistance
Assistance, Human Trafficking

Act on the Prevention of Sexual Traffic and Protection, etc, of Victims Thereof, 2004

“Article 6 (Establishment of Supporting Institutions)
(1) The State or a local government may establish and operate support- ing institutions.
(2) Where a person, other than the State or a local government, intends to establish and operate a supporting institution, he/she shall make a report thereon to the Governor of a Special Self-Governing Province or the head of a Si/Gun/Gu (referring to the head of an autonomous Gu; hereinafter the same shall apply).
(3) Necessary matters concerning the standards for establishment, pro- cedures for report of a supporting institution and the qualification stand- ards for and the number of employees thereof shall be prescribed by Ordinance of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.”

“Article 7 (Affairs of Supporting Institutions)
(1) Each general supporting institution shall perform the following affairs:

1. Provision of accomodations and meals;
2. Counseling and medical treatment for psychological adaptation to society;
3. Medical support, such as surrender of victims, etc. of stability and sexual traffic to medical institutions for medical treatment and health care;
4. Accompanying victims, etc. of sexual traffic to an investigation agency for investigation and a court for examination of a witness;
5. Request to legal aid institutions, etc. for their necessary cooperation and support;
6. Implementation of education for rehabilitation and self-reliance and provision of job information;
7. Support for receipt of benefits under the Acts and subordinate statutes related to social security, such as the National Basic Living Security Act;
8. Technical education (including entrusted education);
9. Matters entrusted to supporting institutions by other Acts;
10. Other matters prescribed by Ordinance of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

(2) Each juvenile supporting institution shall provide education for en- trance into a school of higher grade and help juveniles to enter educational institutions in addition to the affairs under subparagraphs of para- graph (1).
(3) Each supporting institution for foreign women shall perform the affairs referred to in paragraphs (1) 1 through 5 and 9 and affairs supporting their return to homelands.
(4) Each rehabilitation supporting center shall perform the following affairs:

1. Operation of a rehabilitation community, etc.;
2. Education for employment and technical education (including entrusted education);
3. Provision of information on employment and establishment of a business;
4. Other matters prescribed by Ordinance of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family as a support necessary for adaptation to society.”

Article 10 (Establishment of Counseling Centers)

Article 11-2 (Establishment, etc of Central Support Center for Prevention of Sexual Traffic

“Article 13 (Respect of Intention of Victims, etc. of Sexual Traffic)
No head of any supporting institution or any counseling center shall surrender a victim, etc. of sexual traffic to a supporting institution nor pro- tect such victim pursuant to Article 10 (3) contrary to the victim’s explicit intention.”

“Article 14 (Support of Medical Expenses)
(1) Where the head of a supporting institution asks a medical institution for medical treatment, etc. pursuant to Article 9 (3), the State or a local government may subsidize all or some of the medical expenses for an item of medical treatment for which benefits under the Medical Care Assistance Act are not paid.”

Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc of Sexual Crimes, 2015

“Article 23 (Measures to Protect Victims, Informants, etc.)
Article 24 (Prohibition against Divulgence of Victims’ Identity and Privacy)”

Penalties, Child Labour

Labor Standards Act (Law No. 5309), 1997

“Article 109 (Penal Provisions)
(1) A person who violates the provisions of Article 36, 43, 44, 44-2, 46, 56, 65 or 72 shall be punished by imprisonment of up to three years or by a fine not exceeding twenty million won.”

“Article 110 (Penal Provisions)
Any person falling within the purview of any of the following subparagraphs shall be punished by imprisonment of up to two years, or by a fine not exceeding ten million won:
1. A person who violates Article 10, 22 (1), 26, 50, 53 (1), (2) and (3), 54, 55, 60 (1), (2), (4) and (5), 64 (1), 69, 70 (1) and (2), 71, 74 (1) through (5), 75, 78 through 80, 82, 83 or 104 (2),”

“Article 114 (Penal Provisions)
A person who falls within the purview of any of the following subparagraphs shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five million won: <Amended by Act No. 8561, Jul. 27, 2007; Act No. 9038, Mar. 28, 2008; Act No. 9699, May 21, 2009; and Act No. 11270, Feb. 1, 2012>
1. A person who violates Article 6, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 (2) or 47, the proviso of Article 53 (3), Article 67 (1) and (3), 70 (3), 73, 74 (6), 77, 94, 95, 100 or 103;”

Penalties, Worst Forms of Child Labour

Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles against Sexual Abuse

“Article 9 (Child or Juvenile Sex Trafficking)
(1) Any person who deals in or sends a child or juvenile to a foreign country or brings a child or juvenile living in a foreign country into Korea, knowing that they will become an object of an act of purchasing child or juvenile sex or producing child or juvenile pornography, shall be punished by imprisonment with prison labor for not less than five years.
(2) Any person who attempts to commit an offense as prescribed in paragraph (1) shall be punished.”

Penalties, Human Trafficking

Criminal Act (Act No. 293), 1953

“Article 288 (Kidnapping and Trading for Gain)
(1) A person who kidnaps another by force or inveiglement for the purpose of engaging in an indecent act or sexual intercourse, or for gain, shall be punished by limited imprisonment for not less than one year.
(2) The preceding paragraph shall apply to a person who buys or sells a female for the purpose of prostitution.
(3) A person who habitually commits the crimes of the preceding two paragraphs, shall be punished by limited imprisonment for not less than two years.”

“Article 289 (Kidnapping and Trading for Transportation to Foreign Country)
(1) A person who kidnaps another by force or inveiglement or buys or sells another for the purpose of transporting him out of the Republic of Korea, shall be punished by limited imprisonment for not less than three years.
(2) The preceding paragraph shall apply to a person who transports a kidnapped or purchased person out of the Republic of Korea.
(3) A person who habitually commits the crimes of the preceding two paragraphs, shall be punished by limited imprisonment for not less than five years.”

“Article 295-2 (Mitigation of Punishment)
If a person who has committed any crime as prescribed in this Chapter, releases a captured, enticed, trafficked or transported person to a safe place, the punished against him may be mitigated.”

National Statistical Office

Statistics Korea

Data Commitments

A Call to Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, Signed 2017

1.ii. Take steps to measure, monitor and share data on prevalence and response to all such forms of exploitation, as appropriate to national circumstances;

Programs and Agencies for Enforcement

Measures to address the drivers of vulnerability to exploitation can be key to effective prevention. A broad range of social protections are thought to reduce the likelihood that an individual will be at risk of exploitation, especially when coverage of those protections extends to the most vulnerable groups.

Social Protection Coverage: General (at Least One)
Social Protection (Source: ILO)

The seminal ILO paper on the economics of forced labour, Profits and Poverty, explains the hypothesis that social protection can mitigate the risks that arise when a household is vulnerable to sudden income shocks, helping to prevent labour exploitation. It also suggests that access to education and skills training can enhance the bargaining power of workers and prevent children in particular from becoming victims of forced labour. Measures to promote social inclusion and address discrimination against women and girls may also go a long way towards preventing forced labour.

If a country does not appear on a chart, this indicates that there is no recent data available for the particular social protection visualized.

Social Protection Coverage: Pension
Social Protection Coverage: Vulnerable Groups
Social Protection Coverage: Poor
Social Protection Coverage: Children
Social Protection Coverage: Disabled

Delta 8.7 has received no Official Response to this dashboard from the Republic of Korea. If you are a representative of the Republic of Korea and wish to submit an Official Response, please contact us here.