South Korea has various legislation that protect and give rewards to whistleblowers: Act on the Prevention of Corruption, Tax Whistleblower Reward Program, and Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers.
But for this article, we are going to focus on the Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers (“Act”) which took effect on September 30, 2011.
The main purpose of this Act is to make sure that whistleblowers who are reporting public interest violations either in the private sector or the public sector are protected from any form of retaliation and that their personal safety and livelihood are secure.
Under Article 2 of the Act, a violation of public interest is defined as an “act that infringes on the health and safety of the public, the environment, consumer interests, fair competition, or public interests corresponding thereto”.
Process of Whistleblowing in Korea
- The whistleblower shall submit a written report to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (“Commission”) indicating the facts of the public interest violation, the name of the violator, details about the whistleblower, and his/her reason for whistleblowing.
- After receipt of the written report, the Commission shall confirm all necessary information and gather all relevant materials. Once the Commission confirms the report, it shall forward the same to an examination agency for investigation.
- The examination agency will then conduct an investigation. And the agency shall submit an investigation result to the Commission.
- If the investigation result confirms that a public interest violation occurred, the Commission may take the following measures:
1. Suspension of the manufacture or sale of, or recall or destruction of products;
2. Suspension of business, suspension of qualification, etc.;
3. Other measures necessary for elimination, prevention, etc. of the relevant violations of the public interest.Article 9, § 5 of Act on the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers
Rewards to Whistleblowers in Korea
The whistleblower shall be given either a reward, financial award, or relief money if his whistleblowing benefited the country or promotes public interest. If any person retaliated against the public interest whistleblower due to his whistleblowing, the person or company shall be liable to pay up to three times the value of the losses or damages incurred by the whistleblower and he may also be subject to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine up to 30 million won.
If you want to know more about your rights as a whistleblower or wish to discuss legal matters in Korea, you may schedule a no-charge Initial Consultation with a lawyer: Please Schedule a Call.
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