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NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on 21st Parliamentary Election

  • 2020-04-09
  • 1968


March 25 2020


“We Need to Make the 21st Parliamentary

Election a Free and Respectful Election Free of Hate Speech,” Says NHRCK Chairperson

-NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on 21st Parliamentary



Candidate registration began on March 26 for the 21st parliamentary election, which will be held on April 15.


The upcoming parliamentary election would be the first election in the country’s history where 18-year-olds are allowed to cast a vote. As the current COVID-19 pandemic lays bare hatred and discrimination against minorities in our society, it is essential for us to ensure an election free of hate speech to counter discrimination embedded in our society.


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK, Chairperson Young-ae Choi) urges politicians to come together to create an election free of hate speech so that an election serves as a means by which citizens exercise popular sovereignty and realize democratic values.


Elected officials perform political duties, actively defend democratic values, make complex policy decisions and exert a substantial influence on projects that promote national interests. They are thus required to lead the efforts to prevent and address hate speech that incites intolerance.


The public is now calling for decisive action against hate speech of politicians. According to the 2019 national awareness survey by the NHRCK, 58.8% of those surveyed believed that politicians are mainly responsible for the spread of hatred in society. The survey also found that 82.3% of respondents recognized the need to condemn the use of hate speech by politicians.


Based on the survey results, the NHRCK released an opinion in November 2019, calling on the Speaker of the National Assembly, political party leaders and the Chairperson of the National Election Commission to develop norms and adopt self-regulatory measures to regulate the use of hateful language by politicians.


It is very encouraging that some political parties step up their efforts to deal with hate speech by putting forward actions against hatred and discrimination as part of their election pledges and reviewing hate speech records of candidates for the verification of their credentials. This, however, has not lifted concern that hatred against specific groups, which becomes apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be used for the purpose of election campaigns.


The NHRCK calls on candidates to make efforts to stop hate speech in the 21st parliamentary election.


Hateful remarks made by candidates during election campaigns not only undermines the rights of those belonging to the target group, but also distorts the public sphere, which further weakens democracy and impedes progress towards a tolerant society.


Hate speech uttered by politicians will lose its power when the media and civil society jointly condemn the use of hate speech in election campaigns and highlight the adverse effects of hate speech such as reinforced prejudice against the target group and increased inequality.


The NHRCK believes that political parties, candidates, election workers and citizens all have a role to play to ensure an election free of hate speech. The NHRCK will do its part to prevent the use of hateful comments in the days leading up to the election. I sincerely hope that the 21st parliamentary election will create a public sphere of a democracy that is free of hate speech.


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