Monday, January 10, 2011

People’s Needs—Foundation of Legislation

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the people’s needs underlie a policy or a law. The Labour Law that defines the life of the working people and labour relations is a case in point. A Korea Today reporter interviewed Hong Chol Hwa, director of the Law Research Institute under the Academy of Social Sciences, for detailed information.

In the DPRK all working people have an equal right to work and enjoy their working life, and the law thoroughly ensures it. I think the working life of the people has long been legally guaranteed. Would you explain it in detail?

Hong Chol Hwa:
The Labour Law was first promulgated in June 1946. Before national liberation in August 1945, a labour law was something quite out of the question for the Korean people who were reduced to colonial slavery under the military occupation of the Japanese imperialists. At the time, the workers were languishing at the working sites with no labour protection facilities, forced to toil long hours under the whips of foremen and getting starvation wages. Among them were women, children, invalids and old people.

President Kim Il Sung made sure that the Labour Law was promulgated after liberation to radically improve the working conditions of the people and enhance their material welfare. The law stipulated the eight-hour day, abolition of unequal, colonial wages, establishment of a fair wages system providing for an equal pay for an equal amount and quality of work irrespective of sex and age, the right to rest, labour protection, and an obligatory social insurance system.

The Socialist Labour Law was newly adopted in April 1978 in keeping with the developing reality and growing needs of the people, wasn’t it?

Yes, it was. The Socialist Labour Law of the DPRK is characterized by special emphasis on the working people’s life. The law has provisions regarding food supply, dwelling houses, and dormitories to be secured for them by the state, nursing and upbringing of children, free medical care, state social insurance and social security system, bereaved family pensions and guarantee for the living of the elderly and disabled and supportless children. To say nothing of providing safe and healthy working conditions to the working people, the law stipulates other benefits such as regular health screening and obligatory wearing of labour protection outfits in the working place. It also prescribes severe punishment for causing grave consequences to the lives and health of workers by neglecting labour protection arrangements.

Child labour is already outlawed in Korea, but the law has special clauses for female labour, hasn’t it?

Yes. Women are excused from hard and harmful labour. Besides, the law provides a maternity leave for women workers, in addition to yearly regular and supplementary vacations, and admission to holiday homes and sanatoria just like for male workers. All these are regarded as legitimate rights and benefits for women.


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