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SEOUL, South Korea— In a time-honored practice in South Korea’s corporate culture, the 38-year-old manager at an online game company took his 10-person team on twice-weekly after-work drinking bouts. He exhorted his subordinates to drink, including a 29-year-old graphic designer who protested that her limit was two glasses of beer.
“Either you drink or you get it from me tomorrow,” the boss told her one evening.
She drank, fearing that refusing to do so would hurt her career. But eventually, unable to take the drinking any longer, she quit and sued.
In May, in the first ruling of its kind, the Seoul High Court said that forcing a subordinate to drink alcohol was illegal, and it pronounced the manager guilty of a “violation of human dignity.” The court awarded the woman $32,000 in damages for the incidents, which occurred in 2004.