An echo of events in Spain and Greece
We have received the information published below from comrades in Korea. Independently of the events in themselves, their significance is also determined by the fact that they are taking place simultaneously with the movements in Spain and Greece, and reveal a certain number of similar features.
Gatherings for the reduction of tuitionfees by half are taking place everyday in Korea but they have not been growing as big mass gatherings as Candlelight gatherings in 2008.
It is partly because the mass does not have yet enough force for going out to the streets, and partly because leading elements of the gatherings are limiting the issue only to the problem of tuition fees. In addition to these reasons, the participation of bourgeois parties such as Democratic Party in the gatherings prevents those gatherings from growing to mass struggles, too.
On 26th June there was a gathering in the Seoul City Hall Square and the Kwanghwa Gate Square with ten thousands of participants, because KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) organized an all people meeting in which every social stratum was expected to join. All strata including Workers, Peasants and Students came to the gathering, and even it was daytime the streets of the Kwanghwa Tor Square were once occupied by the gathering participants.
In South Korea it was first time since long time to witness occupations of streets and gatherings in the centre of Seoul in daytime. This gathering was possible because there have been the gatherings of university students for the reduction of tuition fees by half. Though in this sense, the gatherings for the reduction of tuition fees by half have to some degree a certain, limited meaning but it remains limited because it the movement has not (yet) expanded.
Meanwhile a new type of movements is being formed at almost the same time in South Korea. In South Korea there is a ship constructing company with the name of Hanjin Heavy Industry. This company is located in Pusan, the second biggest city in South Korea. The Korean ship constructing industry is marking the first place in the world but the company, Hanjin Heavy Industry is middle to small sized, being pushed aside in the competition with other ship constructing companies. This company constructed a new dockyard in the Philippines and is exploiting there Philipine workers by paying them very low wages. In order to eliminate its dockyard with high wage and Trade Unions in Korea, it is giving many orders for construction to Subik dockyard in Philippines. Early this year Hanjin Heavy Industry laid 400 workers off. In order to stop this, a woman worker occupied a crane and is struggling. Ordinary citizens and workers created a way to show solidarity to her, by now it is called “bus of hope”. They determine a certain day, rent buses and go to the company, Hanjin Heavy Industry. Normally there is no workers´s struggle without gatherings organized by Trade Unions. But now a current is rising, a current which shows spontaneously their solidarity with the struggle in Hanjin Heavy Industry. On 11th June, even 3000 workers went to Pusan and entered into the factory. In this struggle not only workers but also ordinary citizens are taking part. Among those people there are famous actors and actresses. An actress named Yeojin Kim went there and happened to be taken to the police station. This news was reported through Twitter in real time base and is drawing attention of the people who did not participate in this struggle. The second ´bus of hope´ is now being prepared on the 9th July. Then 185 buses will be used.
Like gatherings for the reduction of tuitionfees by half, this struggle is not a socialist struggle. Workers are not leading the struggle. The conservative tendency of Lee government is leading even Liberalists to be interested in workers´problems. Among them quite many people will turn their back to workers after the change of government.
Even with such a limit, we think, such processes are preparing a new but different form of movements to the 1980- 90´s.