PSPD in English UN Advocacy 2018-05-08   3363

[UN Advocay] NGO Report on Housing Rights in Korea for UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Ms. Leilani Farha, will make an official visit to Korea for 10 days (14~23 May, 2018) to investigate the actualities of housing rights in Korea.  


The visit was made possible through the Korean NGOs’ opinion about the status of housing right presented to the UN Conference on Sustainable Urban Development- Habitat III in 2016.


On 8 May 2018, the Korean NGOs for Realization of Housing Rights including PSPD published the “2018 NGO Report on Housing Rights in Korea.” It contains the specific housing situation and recommendations on housing rights on various issues.


The report was submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing for her official visit to Korea. The Korean NGOs for Realization of Housing Rights hopes that UN Special Rapporteur will convey following recommendation to the Korean government.


        * OHCHR News “Right to housing: UN expert launches fact-finding visit to South Korea


NGO Report on Housing Rights in Korea for UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing



Needs and Problems in Supplying Apartments


  • When un-built houses are sold in pre-sales, the Korean government should control excessive profit-seeking of construction companies to ensure residents’ housing stability. The government should also make the builders to disclose the coasts of building the apartment so that buyers can make a reasonable decision when purchasing a new home.In addition, the government should completely expand the partially implemented Restriction on Resale of Pre-sale Rights in order to prevent speculative housing investors from entering into the pre-sale market.
  • Going further, the government has to scrap the pre-sales system, and should mandate the post-construction sales system in which construction companies should sell their newly built houses after the certain portion of the construction is completed. In this way, the government has to regulate the construction companies to set new home prices corresponding to the present values, not the future values.
Excessive Burden of Housing Costs and Housing Instability of Tenants
  • According to the General Comments No.4 by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to regulate soaring prices of private rental housing and ensure a long-term for rental homes, the Korean government has to urgently contract renewal claim right and controls the rate of rent increase.
Public Rental Housing and Private Rental Housing
  • The Korean government should sufficiently expand the supply of public rental housing for the low-income people and reform the public housing types and rental prices system to make the public rental housing affordable. To this end, the government should greatly increase its public spending on public rental housing to provide suppliers and demanders with direct support through vouchers.
  • To revive public interests in housing policy under the Moon Jae-in administration, New Stay housing project should be discarded, which only supplies expensive housing through big developers under the new name of public-aided private rental housing.
  • The Korean government should mandate landlords to register themselves as a housing business operator to improve transparency of housing rental system and to prevent rental homes from excessive commodification.
Issues Hindering Low-Income People’s Right to Housing in the National Basic Livelihood Security System
  • The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights already recommended to the Korean government that it is concerned that the current criteria for the dependent obligator make it difficult for individuals and households in need of basic livelihood security benefit to receive it, and the amount of some types of social security benefit is not enough to help recipients. The Korean government should adopt this recommendation to eliminate the dependent obligator system within the overall national security system as soon as possible. In addition, the government should expand the amount of benefit and the range of recipients eligible for housing benefit to allow low-income people to live in affordable, adequate housing. Plus, it should continually monitor the status of recipients’ housing conditions so that their housing can comply with a certain level of housing quality and they can move to better housing.
The Development and Forced Eviction
  • According to the concluding observations by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Korean government should ensure that the legislation provides all groups with adequate protection against evictions, such as tenants’ right to be consulted, access to suitable alternative housing, or appropriate compensation.
  • The Korean government should note General Comments No. 4 (adequate housing, 1991) and General Comments No. 7 (forced evictions, 1997) to actively establish and implement legislative, administrative and judicial measures, with an aim to avoid forced evictions or minimize the violation of human rights in the process of eviction. In addition, the government should enact a law to ban all types of evictions. Moreover, the government should come up with procedures where evictees can file petitions or request relief during the course of forced evictions.
  • In particular, development areas should not be indiscriminately designated based only on physical requirements. The government should enact the Human Rights Assessment before designating development zones and plan to identify the real housing situation of residents and their needs and to prevent the violation of human rights of tenants and the vulnerable groups, with a view to building social consensus prior to the development.
  • The Korean government also should enact a law that prohibits both forced eviction conducted at the inappropriate time such as in winter and forced eviction itself without any prior notification and negotiation.
  • The Korean government should thoroughly prohibit hired demolition gangsters from intervening in the process of forced evictions and strongly punish their violence. And the police should safely protect residents from violence and should not suppress demonstrations organized by evictees.
  • The Korean government should develop policies and institutions that can guarantee the resettlement and the right to live of commercial tenants. When implementing development projects, the government should come up with measures to help evicted commercial tenants to restart their business in new places under the same or better conditions as compared to before the displacement, by providing adequate and reasonable compensation and temporary alternative places for their business that can ensure their right to resettlement.
The Right to Housing for the Homeless
  • (Identifying the state of the homeless by introducing its concept) After the ratification of the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Korean government received concerns and advises from all the four rounds of deliberation. It was pointed out, among others that there is not sufficient information about the homeless (concluding observations on the 1st periodic report), and the government was requested to include in its next periodic reports data on the extent of homelessness in the State party, disaggregated by sex, age, and rural/urban populations (concluding observations on the 3rd period report). Thus, the Korean government should discard the narrow concept of “the homeless, etc.”, and it should redefine the concept and extent of homelessness, and thereby, it should identify the scale and current state of homelessness in the nation.
  • (Strengthening housing policy for the homeless, and utilizing jjokbang as public housing) According to concluding observations of the 4th periodic report by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee was concerned about Korea’s housing policy and urged the country to pursue long-term solutions for homeless individuals. In addition, the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All (107) especially pays attention to the improvement of slums and informal settlements. Along with the expansion of the rental housing supply, which is far short of Korean demands, the government should prevent the demolition and change in the use of jjokbang, and thereby, it should change jjokbang to public housing so that it can be used as a housing resource for the homeless.
  • (Banning the criminalization of homelessness) The Quito Declaration (33) states that countries need to commit to eliminating the criminalization of homelessness, with a view to facilitating their full participation in society. The Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights also pointed out in the report on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (August 4, 2001) that the penalization of homelessness, which is justified by a reason that homelessness interrupts normal activities in spaces, represents a serious discrimination against the principle of equality and non-discrimination. Therefore, measures prohibiting homeless people from using public stations, parks and other public goods should be immediately discontinued.
The Right to Housing for Immigrants
  • Pursuant to the ‘Recommendations of UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(2017) and the ‘Recommendations of UN Report of Special Rapporteur on racism(2015), the Korean government should ensure that migrant workers’ right to social security is protected and respected by ratifying the ‘International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families’ and making sure that the Ministry of Employment and Labor introduces standards on migrant workers’ dormitory that meet the international standards, conducts regular monitoring and implements measures and sanctions accordingly.
  • In order to ensure equal exercise of the right to adequate housing and the rest of the economic, social and cultural rights without discrimination based on nationality as pursuant to the ‘Recommendations of UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(2017)’, the Korean government should make sure that migrants are not excluded in its housing policy. Moreover, migrants should be included in housing surveys conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and the government should come up with plans to improve migrants’ housing conditions that fall below the minimum standards as soon as possible.
  • Pursuant to the ‘Recommendations of UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(2017)’, the Korean government should provide protection and assistance to the homeless and other migrants in need of housing support and make a complete revision of its immigration management system.



The Right to Housing for Vulnerable Group


  • The Korean government should introduce a public rental housing policy that reflects rapidly changing household types in Korea.
  • Following the concluding observations by the UN Committee on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights, the government should compile statistics on the impact of public rental housing policy by gender, and amend the Housing Lease Protection Act. Also, the government should examine dispute cases between tenants and landlords and cases that breach privacy to come up with measure to address these problems.
  • The Korean government also should develop policies to provide priority support to households with child housing poverty. Korea currently has very limited housing welfare system to which these households can access. The government announced that through the 2017 Housing Welfare Roadmap, housing support policy for vulnerable groups living in non-residential dwellings will be also applied to households with child housing poverty. Yet, considering the number of various types of households that should be benefited from the policy, the government should vastly expand the budget and resources of the policy programs, which are currently unreasonably insufficient.
  • According to Article 19 of the International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities which the Korean government ratified in 2008, the government should take active measures to help persons with disabilities in institutions to have a safe and comfortable access to housing services in local communities. The government should also take active measures to increase the number of public rental housing units for the disabled persons.
  • The Korean government should ensure that benefits granted to unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples are equally granted to unmarried cohabiting same-sex couples. The Korean government should ensure that transgender persons are equally accessible to rent a housing, regardless of their gender marker in their id cards. The Korean government should ensure that all shelters are well-equipped, well-trained and equally accessible to LGBTI youths.
The Informal Settlements
  • The Korean government should prioritize the improvement of housing conditions for residents of informal settlements when establishing and implementing housing policies. In particular, considering that evictions driven by development and commercialization of informal settlements can make the residents more at risk of becoming homeless on the streets, the government should set up preventive measures before those people are forcibly evicted.
  • The Korean government should also secure sufficient supply of public rental housing units and improve the welfare delivery system so that housing support policy for vulnerable groups can properly work out. In addition, for housing policy for residents of informal settlements to be effectively implemented, the government should conduct systematic surveys to identify the exact scale and conditions of people living in informal settlements.


▶ NGO Report on Housing rights in Korea [Download]


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