Whistleblower Protections in Korea Expanded through revised Whistleblower Protection Act

Korea’s Whistleblower Protection Act is, often, criticized for having a too limited scope, since it narrowly covered specific iterated Korean government statutes. Thus, many in Korea have pushed for an expansion of the law to cover a more broad range of Korean laws. With this reality in mind, the Korean Whistleblower Protection Act was expanded to cover 467 statutes up from the prior 284 statutes. The amendment was effective since November of 2020.

Whistleblower Law Korea

This Amendment led to many Korean government agencies to promote and foster a team to investigate complaints by Whistleblowers, thus, leading to an increase in Whistleblower cases.

We recommend, because of new enforcement measures, notoriety and obligations under the amended Act for all companies doing business in Korea to conduct a compliance audit and promptly update their compliance program. We have seen too many issues because of the lack of knowledge of the law and/or lack of systems in place to report and resolve potential malfeasance.

Expanded Scope of Acts Covered under Korea’s Whistleblower Protection Act

The Amended Whistleblower Protection Law expanded protection for Whistleblowers from 284 statutes to 467 covered statutes. Some of the most notable statutes included in the Amendment, include:

  1. Korean Copyright Act of Korea;
  2. Korean Anti-Discrimination & Disabilities Act;
  3. Gender Equality Employment Act of Korea;
  4. Korean Fair Distributor Transactions Act;
  5. Protection of Communications Secrets Act of Korea; and
  6. Special Cases Concerning the Punishment of Sexual Crimes Act of Korea.
  7. This expansion of the

This expansion of scope of protection for whistleblowers provides monetary rewards and protections under the Act many of which are paid for by fines to companies. In 2020 the amount of rewards provided to whistleblowers was around KRW 5.5 billion.

Obligations of Companies Doing Business in Korea under the Korean Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act obligates companies to have measures in place to protect whistleblowers and investigate whistleblowing allegations. With the implementation of other reforms including the establishment of the Corruption Investigation Unit and providing more powers to the Korean National Police Agency, we suspect in the near future we shall see more enforcement measures taken against Korean and expat companies.

We, strongly, advise having a proactive attorney do a complete compliance audit on your company doing business in Korea and have the attorney update your compliance procedures to consider these new realities in Korea.

To schedule a consultation with an attorney, please: Schedule a Call with an Attorney in Korea.

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