South Koreans use spy gadgets to fight workplace bullying

Gadgets
  • Gadgets disguised as leather belts, eyeglasses, pens and USB sticks are all proving popular with employees in a country where abusive behaviour by people in power is so pervasive that there is a word for it — ‘gabjil’
  • An online chat room, called Gabjil 119, has also been created by lawyers to give free advice on bullying cases

Gadgets disguised as leather belts, eyeglasses, pens and USB sticks are popular with employees in South Korea to record alleged abuse by their bosses. Under new legislation, company owners who ‘unfairly demote or dismiss’ workers who allege harassment can be imprisoned for three years. (Photo: Reuters)Gadgets disguised as leather belts, eyeglasses, pens and USB sticks are popular with employees in South Korea … Read More

SEOUL: South Korean workers fed up with bullying are being increasingly emboldened by a new tougher labour law to secretly record alleged abuse or harassment by their bosses, boosting sales of high-tech audio and video devices.

Gadgets disguised as leather belts, eyeglasses, pens and USB sticks are all proving popular with employees in a country where abusive behaviour by people in power is so pervasive that there is a word for it — “gabjil”. Jang Sung-churl, CEO of electronics firm Auto Jungbo Co Ltd, said that covert recording devices “have been selling like hotcakes” since the government flagged changes to the labour laws last year.

Under the new legislation, which came into force on July 16, company owners who “unfairly demote or dismiss” workers who allege harassment can be imprisoned for three years or fined up to 30 million won ($24,700).

An online chat room, called Gabjil 119, has also been created by lawyers to give free advice on bullying cases. Auto Jungbo Co’s sales of voice recorders so far this year have doubled to 80 devices per day, Jang said as he forecast sales to also double this calendar year to 1.4 billion won. Jang, whose firm is one of around 20 across the country selling the devices, said other popular devices included electronic car keys and cigarette lighters. “The frame in these glasses is a camcorder,” he said, showing the range of James Bond-like secret devices. “It’s useful in places you cannot carry some of these devices. The pen is the most popular though.”

A 34-year-old aircraft engineer using the Gabjil 119 site shared an audio recording of a man he said was his boss using expletives to berate him for taking leave to care for a sick family member The engineer, who requested anonymity, made the recording on his phone but the confrontation convinced him he needed something more discreet so he snapped up a USB voice recorder “to carry it with me at all times”.

The labour ministry that 572 employees had used the new law to file complaints against their workplace by August 29, averaging almost 18 cases registered each day.

[“source=timesofindia”]
Written by Loknath Das