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South Korea

The need for a new US foreign policy towards North Korea

 

 

By Marty Hart-Landsberg

 

June 13, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Reports from the Economic Front — US-North Korean relations remain very tense, although the threat of a new Korean War has thankfully receded.  Still the US government remains determined to tighten economic sanctions on North Korea and continues to plan for a military strike aimed at destroying the country’s nuclear infrastructure.  And the North for its part has made it clear that it would respond to any attack with its own strikes against US bases in the region and even the US itself.

 

This is not good, but it is important to realize that what is happening is not new.  The US began conducting war games with South Korean forces in 1976 and it was not long before those included simulated nuclear attacks against the North, and that was before North Korea had nuclear weapons.  In 1994, President Bill Clinton was close to launching a military attack on North Korea with the aim of destroying its nuclear facilities.  In 2002, President Bush talked about seizing North Korean ships as part of a blockade of the country, which is an act of war.  In 2013, the US conducted war games which involved planning for preemptive attacks on North Korean military targets and “decapitation” of the North Korean leadership and even a first strike nuclear attack.

 

South Korea: How candlelight protests impeached a president and created spaces for direct democracy

 

 

By Jeong-eun Hwang

 

April 28, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– At 9 am on March 10, people gathered in front of the Constitutional Court to await the court’s ruling on whether to impeach South Korean president Park Geun-hye. Two hours before the verdict was read, those gathered chanted: “The Constitutional Court should uphold Park’s impeachment!”

 

At the designated time of 11am, the crowd held its breath as the eight judges appeared on the large screen set up in front of the court. As acting chief Lee Jung-mi calmly read the verdict, the crowd broke out at times in cheers and at others times in groans. After 20 minutes, Lee concluded the verdict by stating that the president would be removed from office. The crowd erupted with shouts, clapping and crying.

 

Those that had come out onto the streets in protest had finally “impeached Park.” For the past four months we had gathered at the square to realize our demands and acted on them, creating a space for direct democracy. In winter, we planted the seeds to make fundamental changes in Korean society shouting slogans, from the impeachment of Park to the eradication of deep-rooted problems like corrupt conservative forces and the chaebols that had been reigning over our laws. As spring comes, we await the seeds to sprout, nourished by the radiance of people power.

 

Corea del Sur: Victoria del movimiento de las velas, destitución de la presidenta Park y convocatoria de elecciones

 
 

Por Youngsu Won

 

Marzo 22, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, traducido por Enrique García para Sin Permiso— El 10 de marzo, a las 11:22 de la mañana, el juez del Tribunal Constitucional Lee Jeingmi leyó la última frase de la sentencia, que declara que el tribunal había decidido por unanimidad, destituir a la Presidenta Park Geun-hye. Después de un juicio de 92 días, la presidencia de Park Geun-hye había terminado.

 

South Korea: With Park Geun-hye’s impeachment confirmed, the 2016-17 candlelight protest movement has won an important victory

 
 

By Youngsu Won

 

March 12, 2017 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On March 10, at 11:22 am, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Lee Jeingmi read the final sentence of the verdict, declaring that the court had unanimously decided to dismiss President Park Geun-hye. With that, following a 92-day trial, Park Geun-hye’s presidency was over.

 

Pro-impeachment protesters present at that time in front of the courthouse applauded the verdict, filled with a huge sense of joy and the feeling of a moment of emancipation. On the other side, desperate anti-impeachment protesters were deeply disappointed, resorting to verbal and physical assaults, causing the tragic and unnecessary deaths of some poor old people.

 

It was a historic moment, signifying a gigantic political victory for the millions of people who participated in the grassroots candlelight protests – South Korea’s indignados – and for those who led the 134 days of consecutive mobilisations that all together brought more than 15 million people onto the streets. Park now joins the list of presidents ousted in disgrace; her collapse has sent nostalgia for her father’s time in power (Park Chung-hee 1961-79) to the dustbin of history.

 

South Korea's candlelight revolution



 

By International Strategy Center

February 8, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Strategy Center with permission — Sitting in Gwanghwamun square on December 31, the screen rapidly dialled up to 10,000,000 as it added up the number of participants in the past ten candlelight protests. Every Saturday evening for the last two months of 2016, people had come out in the streets calling for impeachment. A few weeks prior, an impeachment motion had been passed in the National Assembly by an overwhelming vote. We were saying goodbye to the year with a candlelight protest on New Year’s Eve complete with Christmas jingles about impeachment.

Free Lee Jin-Young! Stop the repression of Labor Books! International Campaign to Free LJY 2017

 

 

By Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law

 

January 14, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – On January 5th, a South Korean district court decided to detain Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labor Books, a book-sharing web site, in violation of the notoriously draconian National Security Law. This abrupt decision is extremely shocking, considering historic candlelight protests against the political scandal of Park Geynhye government and the subsequent crisis and her impeachment.

 

The candlelight protests that refuse to go out: Understanding the significance of South Korea’s latest protest wave

 

 

By Youngsu Won

 

January 5, 2016 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– The last day of 2016 witnessed another historic moment in South Korean history: once again, a huge mobilization involving 1 million people took place, taking the total number of people mobilized in 10 successive national days of candlelight action to over 10 million. These historical mobilizations of people power have had a tremendous impact on every sphere of South Korean society and politics.

 

South Korea: After President Park’s impeachment, candle light protests continue

 

 

By Youngsu Won

 

December 12, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On December 10, downtown Seoul was lit up by candles once again. One million people turned out for candle light rallies across the country, a day after President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. In Seoul, a huge crowd of eight hundred thousand people gathered at Gwanghwamoon Square and marched toward the Blue House (presidential palace).

 

A wave of historically unprecedented mobilisations by South Korean indignados forced parliament to impeach the incompetent and corrupt president. It was a significant victory for peoples power. However, in the wake of this historical triumph, the popular struggle is heading into uncertain terrains.

 

South Korea’s historic candle light protests bring down President Park

 

 

By Youngsu Won

 

December 9, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On December 9, Parliament voted in favor of a presidential impeachment by 234 votes to 56, with 7 invalid votes and 2 abstentions. Over 30,000 protesters were present to celebrate the impeachment. The votes in favor of impeachment exceeded what was expected, though it was slightly lower than the 81% support for impeachment among public opinion.

 

South Korea's civic revolution: Another mega-protest puts impeachment process back on track

 

 

[For more background on South Korea's çivic revolution, read Youngsu Won's previous article here.]

 

By Youngsu Won

 

December 6, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — December 3 saw another mega-protest hit President Park Geun-hye’s regime, with more than 2.32 million angry South Koreans participating in the 6th national candlelight protest called in recent weeks. Concerns of a lower turn out were swept aside, with the turnout surpassing the recently set record of 2 million people for the largest mobilisation in the country's history. Protesters demanded Park’s immediate and unconditional resignation. The massive outpour of anger has put back in motion an impeachment process that Park had hoped to derail.

 

South Korea shaken by new civic revolution

 

 

By Youngsu Won

 

December 3 — Green Left Weekly / Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — South Korea is currently in a vortex of an unprecedented political crisis.

 

South Korea: Organising to bring down the government and change society

 

 

As hundreds of thousands take to the street in South Korea calling for the downfall of the government, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing below a series of interviews with activists from workers, students, womens, community and artists movements that are taking to the street. The interviews were first published in World Current Report, which is produced by the Seoul-based International Strategy Center.

 

South Korea: As millions take to the street, government teeters on the edge of collapse

 

 

South Korea's parliament is set to vote on whether to impeach President Park Geun-hye after a political scandal triggered off a mass wave of outrage - including a 2-million strong nationwide demonstration, the largest in the country's history. As part of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal coverage of the crisis, we are republishing below, with permission, two articles from the latest World Current Report, published by the Seoul-based International Strategy Center.

 

South Korea: Rail workers strike against privatisation, general strike called

Railway workers' three-week strike against privatisation garnered wide support—and government repression. Photo by DDanzi Ilbo.

By Li San

January 8, 2014 -- Labor Notes -- South Korea’s railway workers have ended a 22-day strike, the longest such stoppage in the country’s history. Though they didn’t win a clear victory, they succeeded in placing the issue of privatisation in public focus.

The government’s and management’s attack on the strike was ruthless to the point of recklessness, while the public’s solidarity and sympathy with the striking workers continued to rise.

And the full impact of the action has yet to ripple out. Amid rising political tensions, the country’s biggest union umbrella, the 700,000-strong Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), has called for a one-day general strike February 25.

Privatisation Plans Sparked Strike

About 15,000 unionists, or about 45 per cent of the workforce, of Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) walked off the job December 9 to protest what they saw as a preliminary step to privatising rail service—a plan by management to spin off the most lucrative slice of its business.

Behind the crisis: US tightens chokehold on North Korea

US and South Korean soldiers take part in joint military exercises in Pohang, South Korea.

By David Whitehouse

April 22, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- In the 60 years since the end of the Korean War, US policy toward North Korea has fluctuated between the options of "containment" and "rollback".

Sometimes, the policy has shifted in the course of one presidency. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both started out as advocates of rollback -- regime change, either by military force or by provoking an internal collapse -- but ended as caretakers of containment.

Barack Obama -- who campaigned for the White House in 2008 on a promise to conduct direct talks with North Korea, in contrast to the belligerent rhetoric of the Bush years -- seems to have followed an opposite trajectory since his first months in office. Though you wouldn't know it to judge from the US media, this aggressive posture in Washington is a driving factor in the escalating tensions that have landed the Korean conflict on the front pages in recent weeks.

South Korea: The presidential election and the radical left

The election of Park Geun-hye as president is a victory for the status quo in South Korea.

By Young-su Won

December 20, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the night of December 19, the whole nation was waiting for the final result of the presidential election; at midnight Park Geun-hye was declared winner, with 15.75 million votes or 51.5%. Her opponent from the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), Moon Jae-in, won 14.67 million votes or 48.80%. Park Geun-hye is daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee (1961-1979) and was the candidate of the ruling Sae-nu-ri party (Sae-nu-ri means a new world). She narrowly led the polls throughout the campaign.

Moon’s party and the many people who remember the tyranny of Park’s regime had expected Park’s defeat. Especially since another dark horse candidate, Ahn Cheol-soo, supported Moon against Park in the final days of the campaign. Ahn was quite popular among people for his clean image and as a successful entrepreneur of his anti-virus programming firm, but he gave up his candidacy for Moon just before the formal registration for presidency. The gap was narrow -- 1.08 million votes or 3.6% -- but it was bigger than had been expected.

Competition among the left

South Korea: Irregular and migrant workers continue their daily struggles

February 8 rally at Yonsei University by irregular cleaning staff.

By Roddy Quines

March 20, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is to update my article published in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on January 14, 2011. There are a number of victories to report. These victories show the power of diligent action and solidarity in overcoming injustice. They also serve as evidence that direct action is an effective way to get results. There are some new struggles to report, and hopefully these struggles can also generate positive results. The struggles in this article are just a few of the many across the country being fought by “irregular” workers.

France, WSF, Korea ... International left solidarity with the Egyptian people's uprising

Melbourne solidarity celebrations, February 12, 2011. Photos by Sue Bolton, beats from Al Aqsa Intifada by Rootsman and Muslimgauze, edited by Nick Fredman.

Below are a number of statements and reports of solidarity actions around the world following the overthrow of the US-backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. They include a statement from organisations attending the New Anti-Capitalist Party congress in France, solidarity from the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, a statement by leaders of the Socialist Party USA and a report on trade union organised protests in South Korea. Check back for more.

* * *

Statement from left organisations present at the New Anti-Capitalist Party congress

February 12, 2011 -- The overthrow of Ben Ali and Mubarak change the political situation not only in the Maghreb but on the international scale.

Lessons from Asia: The real 'Egyptian Revolution' is yet to come

Army soldiers remove makeshift shelters and clear Tahrir Square in Cairo February 13, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis.

By George Katsiaficas

February 14, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Around the world, people are enthusiastically greeting the “Egyptian Revolution” — the astonishing victory won by the historic 18-day people’s power uprising. As events move more rapidly than anyone can anticipate, not only has Hosni Mubarak been deposed, his corrupt parliament has been dismissed and new elections are promised within six months. People’s ecstasy in the aftermath of these great victories belies the fact that Mubarak’s authoritarian system remains intact — nay, strengthened — by the ascension of Omar Suleiman and the military to supreme power in Cairo. While the world hails the Egyptian “revolution”, a more sober assessment of recent events would question the accuracy of that label, at least for now.

South Korea’s June Uprising

Thailand, South Korea: Solidarity with Egypt's struggle for democracy


February 1, 2011. In front of the Egyptian embassy, Bangkok. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool

On February 1, 2011, about 100 members of Thailand's mass democracy (Red Shirts) and student movements gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in Bangkok to send solidarity and support to the people of Egypt fighting to rid their country of the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak. The protest was organised and supported by the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) and member organisations, Thai Youth for Democracy, 24 June Group and other democratic networks.

Egyptians and Koreans stand with one voice to denounce the Mubarak regime

By Roddy Quines, Seoul

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