Calls for Expansion of Public Caretaking Services

Calls for Expansion of Public Caretaking Services
Caretaker. Source: PxHere, 2017.

Jasmine Velasquez

East Asia and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

On the 15th of December, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced a recommendation to the Minister of Health and Welfare to expand the public nursing and caretaking services (Yeon, 2022). According to the Human Rights Commission, most of the care in Korea is provided by private caregivers, such as family members (Yeon, 2022). Their report stated that “depending on the patient's economic ability or the family member's ability to care, even survival is threatened” (Yeon, 2022).

The Human Rights Commission recommended that the integrated nursing/caring service be fully expanded to a universal medical service (Yeon, 2022). The Human Rights Commission said, “Since nursing and caretaking is a universal phenomenon that may be experienced by everyone throughout life, an appropriate and sufficient support system must be established (Yeon, 2022). It is necessary to transform the burden of individual caregiver into social solidarity and provide private care in a public form by including it within the institutional system” (Yeon, 2022). It was also recommended that there be an establishment of a legal management system for caregivers, such as qualification standards for caregivers, determining the scope of their work, and plans for their supply and demand (Yeon, 2022). The report highlights the necessity of protecting the safety and health rights of those who need care and the labor rights of care workers.

Under the ICESCR, Article 12 “recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” South Korea ratified the ICESCR in 1990 (Ratification Status by Country). Therefore, it can be determined that the recommendations by the Commission are an attempt to encourage and recommend how the South Korean government can better fulfil this positive obligation. 

Sources and further reading:

Yeon Y, “인권위 ‘간호·간병 통합서비스 전면 확대해야’” (매일노동뉴스, December 15, 2022) <> accessed December 16, 2022 

“Ratification Status by Country” (United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body Database) <> accessed December 16, 2022