Korea IMC Struggle Radio: June 2nd

By Anonymous (not verified), 9 June, 2009


This is 2jaeng news on Media Redevelopment Action Radio.
The English half of our hour long report on events and social struggles underreported in the mainstream media. Issues for this show are:
Solidarity for Sex Workers
Ban on Protests
Roh Mu-hyun's Suicide and Funeral
Last Friday's Eviction
Conscientious Objector sent to prison
(stream is available at link below)

I'm Eemoogee here with Dopehead and Elisabet and we're speaking to you from the Yongsan candlelight media center in downtown Seoul. the yongsan candlelight media center is a community media center set up in a converted bar at on the frontlines of an ongoing struggle against redeveloment and forced eviction. The struggle reached a turning point after five demonstrators and one police officer died on Jan 20th during a violent forced eviction raid. Since then, the site of the raid has been occupied by family members of the deceased, their supporters, and has developed into a larger cultural movement including regular art exhibitions, movie screenings, concerts and festivals, a cafe, and a community independent media center. All this admidst a constant police force surrounding the building while construction thugs continue to demolish the neighborhood and intimidate demonstrators.

Solidarity for Sex Workers

Elisabet spoke about Durae Bang, an organization that supports former and current sex workers who work around U.S. military bases in South Korea. Most of the women who became sex workers out of desperation during the poverty that followed the Korean war were largely marginalized from mainstream Korean society, and found themselves unable to work other jobs, and without a family to help provide for them. Durae Bang helps these women to organize and take care of each other while giving them a community where they can feel welcome. In recent years, migrant women have replaced Korean women around the US bases. These women face especially difficult legal circumstances as they are totally without rights.

Ban on Protests

May 27th The government declared a ban on large scale demonstrations based on the possibility that they could turn into violent demonstrations.
this ban has been called unconstitutional, violating article 21 of the constitution. civil and social groups are submitting a petition to the constitutional court. Legal scholars have noted that this measure goes against prior constitutional court decisions. The Network of Civic Organizations for Keeping Democracy Alive and Stopping Suppression, an umbrella organization comprised of over 80 civic and social groups has announced a "full scale disobedience campaign". The government is interpreting the Assembly and Demonstration Act in an arbitrary manner. The Act has been revised various times as certain elements were found to be too vague or in violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights. The revised Act states that ban notices may be given for 밶ssemblies and demonstrations that will obviously present a direct threat to public order, e.g., through collective violence and intimidation.?Many people are talking about this ban as contributing to the deterioration of democracy in South Korean society, and a harkening back to social restrictions similar to the days of military dictatorship in the 70's and 80's.

Roh Mu-hyun's Suicide and Funeral

Last friday may 29th was the funeral of roh mu hyun, the previous president of south korea who committed suicide the 23rd of May. His suicide shocked the country and around 500,000 people assembled for the memorial services. while it was a largely solemn event, it had deep political undertones as the current president ee myung bak as pursuing politically motivated overly agressive prosecution of his more liberal predecessor . Despite his policies as president, which compromised much to neoliberal agendas, roh is still highly respected by many progressive activists.

Problems with Roh
..during his (presidential) election campaign in late 2002 Roh promised quite a lot!
- a "labour-friendly" policy
- to improve the human rights in S.K.
- the refusal to support the then planned aggression against Iraq- to revise the SOFA (status of the USFK)
- to improve the living conditions of the poor/most exploited people
etc, etc..
- The workers/labor union movement was (partially extreme bloody) oppressed, just like before! Hundreds of trade union activists were imprisoned.
- Tousands of (un-documented) migrant workers were haunted by immigration officers and riot cops, arrested and deported. No small number of migrant workers, threatened by this policy, were forced to commit suicide! ETU-MB and later the MTU became the subject of permanent repression by the "authorities".
- Only few weeks after Roh's inauguration he announced that his gov't is going to support the Iraq War. Later, despite the strong opposition by a majority of the S.K. public, the gov't sent S.K. troops to join the occupation of Iraq.
- The anti-militarist/anti-USFK movement (e.g. in Pyeongtaek/Daechu-ri) was suppressed for US base expansion.
- During Roh's presidency thousands of tenants were (frequently forcibly) evicted. Thousands of street vendors were (frequently forcibly) expelled and deprived of their basis of existence... etc, etc..

After his death City Hall in Seoul was filled with mourners who created memorial shrines with incense, with spontaneous actions held throughout the nation. the government tolerated all of this until his official funeral. afterwhich

As soon as the government sponsered memorial ceremonies had finished, 5:30 may 30th, the police began to arrest mourners and destroy pictures and the altars with offerings to the dead president. They then created a blockade of police buses surrounding Seoul City Hall plaza to prevent anyone from assembling on the public land. The altar site was moved to the entrance of a palace located across from City Hall.

Last Friday's Eviction

With highly suspicious timing the authorities chose the date of roh's runeral to conduct another eviction attempt of an occuped building in yongsan. The building was raided at 7:30 and Father Moon, long-time activist catholic priest, and others, were violently removed and a fence was build around the perimeter.

Conscientious Objector sent to prison

There are over four hundred men in prison right now for conscientious objection to the mandatory military service in South Korea. Today June 2nd, at 10am, U-gong, an activist and scholar, was incarcerated. On May 19th, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison for his refusal to serve in South Korea's military.
from Ugong's Jan 6th declaration of conscientious objection:

(refering to Supreme Court and Constitutional Court rulings against challenges to the conscription service laws, he says)
"I am against these nationalistic decisions which state that the 'duty of national defence' is more important than 'individual's freedom of conscience'. As long as such decisions continue to be made, the right to freedom will remain infringed by nationalistic reasoning. Article 1, Section 2 of the South Korean constitution states that 'the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea resides in the people, and all state authority emanates from the people'. This means the source of power to establish a constitution, constituent power, originates from the people. Therefore, it is the people's will, not nation's one, which should be respected. This is what I think democracy is.
This is the reason for my objection to military service.

Upcoming Events:
June 4, 7pm, protest music concert at yongsan site
June 5-7, 13th Human Rights Film Festival at Cheonggye square
June 6, 6pm, free free free market at yongsan site
June 7, 3-5pm reusable menstruation pad workshop at yongsan site