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News :: Organizing
S. KOREA, Last Week's Struggle Report
17 Aug 2004
Now since 277 days migrant workers in S. Korea are in sit-in strike against the government's policy of man hunt and mass deportation. MSSC's (Myeong-dong Sit-in Struggle Collective) last week's struggle report.

LAST WEEK’S STRUGGLE REPORT (Seoul, 8.17)


First of all, yesterday’s “OnePersonRally”, the 56th day, in front of National Assembly on Yepuido had a great audience: at least 5.000 riot cops with two water cannons accompanied by ambulance cars and fire brigade were hanging around there. But unfortunately they were not there because of us, today beside ETU and ETU-MB member, a member of polit-rock group ZEN joined, instead they were there to block a totally peaceful demonstration of milk farmers (they demanded better payment for their products). The only strange on this demonstration: on the end of the event the protesters tried to burn their banners, the reason is unknown (possibly just something had to burn…).
But let’s start with the beginning. After the great rally and demonstration the Sunday before last on last Monday’s, August 9, “Every Monday Solidarity Concert” we’d one premiere. One of our Nepalese comrades had his first performance on Myeong-dong Street, just left of our struggle area. The audience, some members of MSSC, but also many by-passers, just was enthusiastic.
On last Tuesday MSSC just were relaxing, Jeon Tae-il “mime” team rehearsed, “Our Ori dongji” (우리오리 同志, just see the 2nd picture), our duck, just quacked the whole day…
Wednesday, beside the daily OnePersonRally on Yeouido, the construction workers, occupying also Myeong-dong cathedral’s compound had their weekly night rally and many students joined the event. One of the highlights: Ji Min-joo’s performance. Beside her, members of ZEN, the protest singers Park Joon and Yeon Yeong-sok joined the rally.
On Thursday, after the “Committee of Joint Action for Checking the Forced Deportation and for Nationwide Legalization of Migrant Workers” hold their weekly rally in front of Mok-dong's Immigration Office (about 30 people joined), MSSC had their weekly night rally and at least 60 student solidarity activists from many different groups participated, supported our struggle in speeches and performed revolutionary expression dances. The whole event – just great and a massive expression of solidarity! Thanx a lot comrades!
On Friday three migrant worker activists joined the opening ceremony of the exhibition about migrant workers struggle in S. Korea. The video projects and photographs are results of Yong Soon Min’s visit last year here and her joining our activities. The exhibition you can see until September 18 in Ssamziespace, 5-129 Mapo-gu Chnagjeon-dong (near Hong-ik University, home page: www.ssamziespace.com).
Last Saturday video activist “Sup-sok Hong Gil-dong” and the international secretary of ETU-MB made a solidarity visit in “Jeong-rib” Social Center. Here, now since 55 days, disabled people activists are in a sit-in strike. The background: some times ago the director of the center Lee Wan-soo, backed by the Secretary General Kim Dong-ho prolonged his period of office without any democratic authentication. Against this the activists were struggling, but Lee rejected a democratic election and so the activists started the strike. Last Thursday and Friday “director” Lee chased disabled people loyal to him against the occupier. They attacked from out side the windows of the office, occupied by the activists and police had to protect them. Later in the night electricity and water was cut off. The role of the cops was a little strange, because on the one side they protected the activists but on the other side, if they would get the order, they also, without any question, arrest the leader of the strike (here and here you can see pictures and read articles, in Korean, about the struggle). Fortunately on Saturday the situation was more relaxed, but the fear of arrest of the strike leaders is still existent. There in a discussion about their movement and the current struggle we came to the conclusion that, only we understand that the problems are not only some “mistakes” of the (capitalist) system, instead the system itself is the error. But we’ll have only one chance to fight successful against the system by struggling together – all marginalized groups of the society, together with the trade union, student and other activists have to build one front against the “rulers” and their slaves. All the same whether we are migrant workers, people who are defending their houses or disabled people – we just have to understand that our problems are caused by the same: the capitalist society! Of course we will continue to support the struggle of the disabled people activists we promised during the farewell and we’ll reiterate our solidarity visits.
Saturday afternoon in Seoul’s Daehak-ro district two rallies took place. One for Roh Moo-hyun’s resignation, because of his policy in the cases of troop dispatch, oppression of trade union activities and other scandals, around 100 activists of leftwing groups joined, and one large rally, organized by Hanchongryeon (HCR) against the troop dispatch, some thousands of students participated. Later they marched to downtown’s Jong-no boulevard near the intersection to Gwanghwamun. A while after arrival there another rally took place. The main issue: “Unification Day”. Actually such a day is not existent, but the Independent Day, August 15 (the day when the Japanese Imperialists signed the capitulation 1945, after losing, alongside fascist Germany, the WW II), but because of the USA… - it’s now just “Unification Day”… Actually it’s a very nationalist event (according to the internet magazine Voice of the People around 10.000 people participated), so it is nothing to support, but activists of Struggle and Rice (투쟁과 밥) performed a kind of alternative event under the title “At first safe houses for all and after that unification!” on the edge of the rally to collect donation for the struggle of people who are defending their houses in Ilsan/Pung-dong (reports you can read here and here) - Hong Gil-dong and ETU-MB’s international secretary joined the real funny, but also successful – many rally participants, at first a little skeptical, got interested in the issue the performance were made for - event (a really great movie about the performance and the rally you can watch here).
Sunday early afternoon, the same place, the same issue (“Unification Day”): more than 10.000 people (Voice of the People reported 15.000) again took the street near Gwanghwamun. But this day the most of the people, beside many students from HCR, thousands of KCTU and KFTU (Korean Federation of Trade Unions) participated, wanted to protest against the government’s decision to sent the troops – beside 600 unarmed, in the beginning of this month they sent 3.000 combat troops – to Iraq, to join the ongoing occupation by US and UK forces there. After the rally many activists wanted to create a human chain around the nearby US embassy, but actually it was impossible, because every way to there was blocked by hundreds of the big police busses. So in fact the following battle with the riot cops, today’s bourgeois daily JoongAng Ilbo wrote that 8.000 cops were in readiness, was just a symbolic one, even a lot of the people really wanted to fight. The riot cops, the combat units 1001, 1002 and 1003 in the front line, tried to break up the rally by using three water cannons, but because of the heat it was just a refreshment. After about two hours battle, actually Lee Soo-ho’s (KCTU current president) broke up the rally (articles, in Korean, you can read here and here) . After all it was a strong voice against the troop dispatch, against the war and occupation, but it was the wrong opportunity (?), and if this will be just a single event, then, actually, it is just to late!
Yesterday MSSC decided and announced during a press conference downtown Seoul that the sit-in strike will continue "until we'll get a positive result".
Beside this very important devopment POSCO construction workers are in strike. They demand basic workers rights, better conditions and regular contracts, because the most of them are irregular workers with the most worse working, payment conditions in S. Korea. Since yesterday afternoon about 5.000 construction workers of POSCO in Pohang are "in war", one activist said, with large units of the riot cops. Until now at least 53 workers are serious injured, 12 leading activists arrested... and the battle is still, here it is now after midnight, going on.

Here some impressions from last week's events


Mok-dong: Last Thursday's rally...


...in front of Immigration Office


Friday's event to collect donation...


...for the struggle in Ilsan/Pung-dong...


...on the edge of the "Unification Day" rally


Mandatorily: tear to pieces the US flag (Sunday's mass rally)


Refreshment for the fighters - thanx a lot!

RELEASE ALL MIGRANT WORKERS FROM DETENTION CENTERS!
FREEDOM FOR ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN S. KOREA!
LET’S FIGHT TOGETHER FOR A WORLD WITHOUT EXPLOITATION AND OPPRESSION!
ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ONLY IF YOU WANT AND FIGHT FOR IT!


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