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Korea: Protecting the rights of persons with psychological disability

Graphic: Hospital

Involuntarily hospitalization was the primary topic of an Open Forum on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Psychological Disability.


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) held an Open Forum on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Psychological Disability, in cooperation with the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association, on 24 July 2014.

The issue of involuntarily hospitalization was a primary topic of the forum, with a focus on the factors behind this and potential improvement measures. Participants also discussed how social rehabilitation facilities can be improved and what actions can be taken by the local or central governments to support people to live in community settings.

Among 80,569 in-patients with mental health issues in Korea as of 2012, only 24.1% (19,441 persons) were hospitalized voluntarily. The remaining 75.9% (61,128 persons) were involuntarily hospitalized. This is far higher than other developed countries (France 12.5%, Germany 17.7%, Italy 12.1%, England 13.5%) with average involuntary hospitalization rates below 20%.

In addition, the average period of hospitalization in Korea is 247 days, which is much longer than that in other developed countries (below 50 days).

The problem of involuntary hospitalization has been continuously raised by disability rights defenders because it is incompatible with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the Republic of Korea acceded to in 2009.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities included this topic in the List of Issues of its first review of the Republic of Korea, to be held in September 2014.

The NHRCK will develop a policy recommendation for the protection of the rights of persons with psychological disabilities based on the outcomes of the forum.

Date: 14 August 2014

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea


Image credits

  1. Hospital - Emily Orpin, Flickr Creative Commons