The Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK) is a constitutional democracy governed by a president and a unicameral legislature. The December 2012 presidential and the April 2012 parliamentary elections were viewed as free and fair. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. Authorities maintained effective control over security forces, which did not commit human rights abuses.
The primary human rights problems reported were the government's interpretation of the National Security Law (NSL) and other laws to limit freedom of expression and restrict access to the internet, and the jailing of conscientious objectors to military service.
During the year there were allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other state agencies attempted to manipulate voter opinion in the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections in favor of the incumbent conservative party, which was victorious in both elections.
Other human rights problems included the absence of a comprehensive antidiscrimination law, some official corruption, sexual and domestic violence, children engaged in prostitution, trafficking in persons, and societal discrimination against the following: defectors from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK); ethnic/racial minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; persons with HIV/AIDS; and foreigners. The government also restricted workers' rights and interfered with the right to strike.
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