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Protecting and Rewarding Whistleblowers

Corruption reporters

Definition of corruption

According to Article 2, Subparagraph 4 of the Act on the Prevention of Corruption and the Establishment and Management of the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, act of corruption is defined as follows

(a) The act of any public official's abusing his/her position or authority or violating statutes in connection with his/her duties to seek gains for himself/herself or any third party

(B) The act of inflicting damages on the property of any public institution* in violation of statutes, in the process of executing the budget of the relevant public institution, acquiring, managing, or disposing of the property of the relevant public institution, or entering into and executing a contract to which the relevant public institution is a party

Scope of public institution: administrative agencies at various levels, local governments, offices of education, National Assembly, courts, Constitutional Court, election commissions at various levels, Board of Audit and Inspection, public service related organizations, and private schools and educational corporations at various levels

(C) The act of coercing, urging, proposing and inducing any act referred to in items (a) and (b) or act of covering it up

How to handle a report

Protection & reward

(a) Employment guarantee

When whistleblowers have suffered or are expected to suffer any disadvantage in their employment or discrimination in their working conditions due to the reporting of corruption, ACRC takes measures to guarantee their continued employment, including reinstatement to their original position, arrangement of a transfer to a different post, and deferment of disciplinary measures against them.

(b) Confidentiality

The Act on Anti-Corruption and the Establishment and Operation of ACRC prohibits the act of disclosing or alluding to the identity of whistleblowers without their consent. The Act also makes it illegal to disclose their personal information when there is a possibility of damage to them as a result of their reporting corruption.

(c) Physical safety

ACRC may ask the head of the competent police authority to take relevant steps to protect whistleblowers, their collaborators, relatives, or cohabitants, should they feel threatened as a consequence of reporting corruption.

(d) Financial rewards

ACRC will provide whistleblowers with rewards of up to KRW 3 billion (about USD 3 million) if their report of corruption has contributed directly to recovering or increasing revenues or reducing expenditures for public agencies. Also, ACRC may grant or recommend awards if the whistleblowing has served the public interest.

Corruption Report Cases Handled

Corruption Report Cases list table
Year Received Handled Referred Notified as violations of the code of conduct
2009 2,693 2,695 106 47
2010 3,099 3,066 81 73
2011 2,529 2,546 73 80
2012 2,527 2,529 74 79
2013 3,735 3,670 139 43
2014 4,510 4,481 236 53
2015 3,885 3,904 296 75
2016 3,758 3,735 324 67
2017 4,066 3,966 221 48
2018 7,328 7,224 306 78
2019 9,435 8,701 398 203

Protection of public interest whistleblowers

The ACRC will contribute to the stability of people's livelihoods and to a more transparent and ethical social climate by protecting and supporting people who report violations of the public interest.

Definition of violation of the public interest

"Violation of the public interest" means an act that infringes on the health and safety of the public, the environment, consumer interests and fair competition, etc. and is subject to 1) any penal provisions defined in the Acts listed in an attached table of 「the Act on the Protection of Public Interest whistleblowers」, or 2) an administrative action such as the cancellation or suspension of a permit or license.

「Agricultural Products Quality Control Act」「Special Act on the Safety Control of Public Structures」, 「Food Sanitation Act」, 「Natural Environment Conservation Act」and other Acts (284 in total)

How to handle a report

Protection & rewards of public interest whistleblowers

(a) Personal confidentiality

It is banned under 「the Act on the Protection of Public Interest whistleblowers」 to disclose to or publicize to any third party personal information concerning the public interest whistleblower, etc. or other facts that infer the identity of the whistleblower.

(b) Protection of physical safety

The ACRC may request the police to take protective measures for a public interest whistleblower (and his/her relatives) when they have faced or are likely to face serious danger to their lives.

(c) Prohibition of disadvantageous measures

A public interest whistleblower may request the ACRC to take necessary measures to recover his/her original status when the whistleblower was dismissed, lost his/her position, or was disadvantaged in some other way because of whistleblowing.

Any person who violates the Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won (USD 30,000 approximately).

(d) Rewards and relief money

When a public interest whistleblowing directly results in the recovery of or increase in revenue such as penalty surcharges for the central or local governments, the ACRC provides the whistleblower with a reward of up to KRW 3 billion (USD 3 million). Also, when the whistleblowing report causes damages or expenses related to medical treatment, residential relocation, litigation, wage loss or other reasons, the ACRC provides relief funds

Public Interest Report Cases

Public Interest Report Cases list table
Year Received Handled Referred
2011 292 227 8
2012 1,153 1,113 104
2013 2,887 2,509 73
2014 9,130 8,239 168
2015 5,771 7,089 90
2016 2,611 2,560 79
2017 2,521 2,238 85
2018 3,923 3,952 37
2019 5,164 5,165 388