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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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
저 명한 국제적 지식인들과 좌파단체·노동조합 등이 홍익대 미화 노동자 투쟁에 연대 메시지와 서명을 보내 왔다. 1월 22일 현재까지 미국의 저명한 경제학자 마틴 하트-랜즈버그, 세계적으로 저명한 마르크스주의자이자 영국 사회주의노동자당 중앙위원인 알렉스 캘리니코스를 포함해 지식인, 좌파·노동조합 주요 활동가 27명과 2개 단체가 동참했다. 아래 명단은 1차분이고, 이 서명은 앞으로도 계속 진행될 예정이다. 이 서명은 다함께 국제연락팀 박준규가 주도적으로 조직했다.
연대서명과 메시지(1월 22일 현재까지 1차분)
January 11, 2011, irregular cleaning staff at Hongik University in Seoul protest their unfair dismissal.
[For more background to the South Korean irregular workers’ struggle, see Chris Kim’s excellent article on the Hyundai irregular workers’ strike in Ulsan: “South Korea: ‘Just the first round’ by ‘irregular workers’ at Hyundai Motors”, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, December 16, 2010.]
By Roddy Quines
Washington has reactivated the US Navy’s 4th Fleet to ensure US power projection over the Caribbean, Central and South America.
[This talk was presented at the regional “socialism conference” was held in Manila from November 27 to 28, 2010. The conference was organised by the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses) and the socialist-feminist regional network Transform Asia.]
By Rasti Delizo
By Martin Hart-Landsberg
December 31, 2010 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- What’s happening on the Korean peninsula? If you read the press or listen to the talking heads, your best guess would be that an insane North Korean regime is willing to risk war to manage its own internal political tensions. This conclusion would be hard to avoid because the media rarely provide any historical context or alternative explanations for North Korean actions.
For example, much has been said about the March 2010 (alleged) North Korean torpedo attack on the Cheonan (a South Korean naval vessel) near Baengnyeong Island, and the November 2010 North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island (which houses a South Korean military base).
The conventional wisdom is that both attacks were motivated by North Korean elite efforts to smooth the leadership transition underway in their country. The take away: North Korea is an out-of-control country, definitely not to be trusted or engaged in negotiations.
But is that an adequate explanation for these events? Before examining the facts surrounding them, let’s introduce a bit of history. Take a look at the map below, which includes both Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands.
Hyundai Motors workers' sit-in at Hyundai's plant in Ulsan.
reports on strikes and factory occupations at Hyundai Motor Company in South Korea, which is building solidarity among regular and irregular workers, and among workers internationally.
December 16, 2010 -- Socialist Worker (US) -- "Even a worm will squirm when it is being stepped on" is an old Korean idiom that basically means that even the most powerless creature reacts against an aggressor. However, when such a worm is transformed into a fearful dragon, it will do a lot more than just squirm, to the point that you had better think twice about stepping on it.
That's what happened at one of South Korea's most profitable companies, Hyundai Motors, when the company's irregular workers mobilised with strikes and factory occupations during the middle of November, after decades of being "stepped on". Before we start with that fateful day of November 15, we need to take a look at how it progressed.