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With the 1951 Refugee Convention only ratified in 1994, followed by the first claim filed in 1996 and the first successful application determined in 2000, the law of refugee status in Korea is still in its infancy. Given this brief history, obtaining recognition as a Convention refugee is invariably an uphill battle for those individuals who have fled persecution in their home country to seek asylum in Korea. Gong-gam is committed to supporting them in their quest for recognition as Convention refugees. In 2007, we were successful in obtaining first-time recognition of refugee status of a Chinese asylum seeker when the Seoul Administrative Court accepted his claim of a well-founded fear of persecution should he be forcibly returned to his home country as a result of his exposure of human rights violations by government officials.
Individuals and families who do not have a fixed or validly registered address face constant struggle to live with dignity. In Korea, not having a registered address often means a denial of basic social and economic rights. Individuals who subsist without a registered address are not provided minimum levels of services such as electricity and water, and their children are denied access to proper education. It also means being excluded from various government social welfare programs, the very purpose of which is to alleviate the hardships of such individuals.

When faced with these dire circumstances, many people who live in temporary vinyl or plastic housing settlements, which are regarded by administrative officials as illegal housing and therefore not capable of being validly registered, have no other option but to resort to a false resident registration. Gong-gam has had meaningful success in litigation for housing rights for these people. We have sought, among other things, a progressive interpretation of resident registration laws so that even temporary housing such as vinyl settlements are recognized by administrative authorities as being capable of valid resident registrations.
Gong-gam is committed to providing legal support to those courageous individuals who, as a result of their conscience, risk losing everything to blow the whistle on corruption or abuse of power wherever it may be.

Among numerous sensitive cases, we once represented a high school teacher who was dismissed for having revealed evidence that the vice-principal had sexually abused students at the school. The teacher was dismissed from his position and was also criminally charged based on a complaint filed by the vice-principal for slander and loss of reputation. With respect to the dismissal, the teacher took his case to the disciplinary tribunal for teachers within the Ministry of Education, arguing wrongful dismissal and proposing a lesser penalty, namely, a three-month suspension. When the tribunal ruled against the teacher, he came to Gong-gam for representation in his appeal to the Administrative Court. The Court eventually ordered the reinstatement of the teacher at the school. With respect to the criminal case, we successfully obtained an acquittal from the charges brought by the vice-principal.
Gong-gam recently obtained a landmark decision recognizing the right to adequate compensation from a landlord association to tenants forced to move from areas designated for wholesale demolition for the purposes of urban redevelopment. Given that residences most affected were low-cost rental units for low-income families, obtaining adequate compensation to residents for being uprooted from their homes was critical. In this groundbreaking case, we were able to obtain a decision recognizing the rights of tenants to receive compensation which includes not only moving costs, but also a four-month living allowance, covering such expenses as food, clothing and transportation.