South Korea

South Korean rail union sellout paves way for privatization

By Ben McGrath, 15 January 2014

The stoppage was the longest rail strike in country’s history, but the unions channeled the hostility of workers into negotiations with KORAIL and the government.

South Korean police raid unions over railway strike

By Ben McGrath, 23 December 2013

The police operation is a clear attempt by the Park administration to crush working class opposition to the attacks on jobs and living standards.

Biden in South Korea reaffirms “absolute” US commitment to “pivot to Asia”

By Peter Symonds, 7 December 2013

“America is a Pacific power, a resident Pacific power, and we are going nowhere—nowhere,” Biden declared.

Tensions escalate over Chinese air defence zone

By John Chan, 29 November 2013

Miscalculations in the current situation could quickly lead to a clash involving Chinese warplanes with those from Japan, the US or South Korea.

South Korean government demands dissolution of opposition party

By Ben McGrath, 12 November 2013

If imposed, a ban on the UPP would be the first since 1958 when US-backed dictator Rhee Syng-man outlawed the Progressive Party of his presidential challenger.

Amid government shutdown, US officials push “pivot to Asia”

By Alex Lantier, 2 October 2013

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wraps up a visit to South Korea today, as part of a US diplomatic offensive to boost military alliances across the Asia-Pacific.

South Korean government threatens to ban teachers union

By Ben McGrath, 1 October 2013

President Park’s administration has accused teachers of being involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the government.

South Korean opposition lawmaker arrested

By Ben McGrath, 9 September 2013

UPP lawmaker Lee Seok-ki has been detained as part of an anti-communist witch-hunt designed to justify police state measures against the working class.

South Korean trade unions hold partial auto strikes

By Ben McGrath, 5 September 2013

Hyundai and Kia are demanding lower wages and costs, threatening to move production overseas.

South Korean security agency arrests opposition party officials

By Ben McGrath, 30 August 2013

The raids occurred just as the agency is mired in a scandal over its interference in South Korea’s presidential election last December.

Seoul to extend US control over South Korean military

By Ben McGrath, 1 August 2013

The US is sending a message that American troops and bases will not be leaving the Korean peninsula in the foreseeable future.

South Korean president conducts “charm offensive” in China

By Ben McGrath, 3 July 2013

The South Korean and Chinese presidents discussed North Korea’s nuclear programs as well as boosting economic relations.

South Korean president unveils phony job package

By Ben McGrath, 1 July 2013

The program is designed to create a low-paid, part-time workforce to meet the demands of big business.

Big business demands lower wages in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 20 May 2013

Led by General Motors, CEOs at major corporations in South Korea demanded wage cuts for workers at a meeting with President Park Geun-hye.

New South Korean president commits to Obama’s “pivot to Asia”

By Ben McGrath, 15 May 2013

A recent meeting between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Barrack Obama gave Washington an opportunity to ensure Seoul’s adherence to US demands.

South Korea protests against Japanese shrine visits

By Ben McGrath, 3 May 2013

Behind the growing tensions between Japan and South Korea are not just disputes over past history, but present-day economic and geo-political rivalry.

Global slump drives new South Korean stimulus package

By Ben McGrath, 1 May 2013

Hit particularly hard by the devaluation of the Japanese yen and China’s slowdown, the government is trying to boost the economy.

US inflames North Korean missile scare

By Joseph Santolan, 11 April 2013

Washington has set in motion a regional game of geopolitical brinkmanship in which the stakes are the possibility of nuclear war.

South Korea prepares for war amid US-China stand-off

By Ben McGrath, 9 April 2013

As the US escalates tensions on the Korean peninsula, the South Korean bourgeoisie has moved to aggressively implement its own militaristic agenda.

China appeals for calm amid fears of war over US escalation in Korea

By Alex Lantier, 4 April 2013

Chinese officials appealed for calm on the Korean peninsula yesterday, as the United States deployed missiles and further military forces to East Asia.

US deployment of stealth bombers escalates military standoff in Korea

By Alex Lantier, 30 March 2013

On Thursday, US officials announced that B-2 stealth bombers had flown from Whiteman Air Force Base in the United States to South Korea.

Former dictator’s daughter takes over South Korean presidency

By Ben McGrath, 1 March 2013

Park Geun-hye’s installation marks a turn to the right by the South Korean ruling elite amid growing social discontent at home and rising tensions across East Asia.

South Korean president-elect moves to abandon welfare promises

By Ben McGrath, 5 February 2013

With the election over, Park Geun-hye is preparing to ditch her pledges to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

South Korean companies plan sweeping job cuts

By Ben McGrath, 28 December 2012

Major South Korean companies are planning to cut thousands of jobs as the economy is battered by deepening world economic turmoil.

Daughter of former South Korean dictator wins presidency

By Ben McGrath, 20 December 2012

Park Geun-hye’s election represents a turn to authoritarian forms of rule by the South Korean corporate elite.

South Korean “progressives” line-up behind the Democrats

By Ben McGrath, 15 December 2012

The parties connected with the Korean Co-federation of Trade Unions are promoting the fraud that the Democrat candidate in the South Korean presidential election represents “a lesser evil.”

South Korean “independent” pulls out of presidential election

By Ben McGrath, 3 December 2012

Ahn Cheol-soo, a wealthy businessman, has thrown his support behind the Democrat in what is now largely a two-person race.

South Korean unions enforce new auto productivity benchmarks

By Ben McGrath, 30 October 2012

The union sell-out of the campaign by auto workers will create more onerous working conditions.

US extends permitted range of South Korean missiles

By John Chan, 15 October 2012

The Obama administration’s move is set to heighten geo-political tensions in North East Asia.

South Korean government bolsters police powers

By Ben McGrath, 6 October 2012

The government claims it is trying to prevent crime and protect citizens, but the real aim is to prepare for future crackdowns against social unrest.

Tensions remain high between South Korea and Japan

By Ben McGrath, 6 September 2012

Tokyo and Seoul have refused to back away from competing claims over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands.

Japan-South Korea tensions flare over disputed islands

By Peter Symonds, 22 August 2012

Both governments are stirring up nationalist sentiment at home to deflect attention from mounting social tensions and political opposition.

South Korea: Dictator’s daughter announces presidential bid

By Ben McGrath, 18 July 2012

Park Geun-hye’s emergence is as the leading presidential candidate is a warning that more authoritarian forms of rule are being prepared.

South Korea postpones military pact with Japan

By Ben McGrath, 13 July 2012

Seoul’s proposed intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo provoked a political crisis for the South Korean government.

South Korean university students fined over fees protest

By Ben McGrath, 14 June 2012

The heavy fines were designed to intimidate students who are struggling to cope with rising tuition costs.

South Korean government tries to shore up fragile banking system

By Ben McGrath, 16 May 2012

As well as being exposed to a domestic real estate bubble, South Korea’s banking system is heavily dependent on international credit markets.

South Korean elections return right-wing government

By Ben McGrath, 21 April 2012

The ruling Saenuri Party retained control of the National Assembly only because millions of voters did not see the Democrats-led “progressive” bloc as a genuine alternative.

South Korean Democrats make empty populist appeal

By Ben McGrath, 10 March 2012

The DUP is seeking to rebuild its electoral base by criticising the conglomerates and making limited proposals to restrict their activities.

US downplays North Korean regime’s overtures

By James Cogan, 29 February 2012

Pyongyang’s push for renewed talks appears to be a desperate bid for some form of rapprochement.

South Korea ratifies free trade deal with US

By Ben McGrath, 28 November 2011

The vote in South Korea’s National Assembly underscored the sharp divisions within the political establishment over the FTA, which was first agreed in 2007.

South Korean elections reveal widespread political disaffection

By Ben McGrath, 1 November 2011

The loss of support for the ruling right-wing GNP registered in local and municipal elections did not translate into gains for the opposition Democrats.

Social inequality worsening in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 27 September 2011

South Korea is experiencing a rapidly widening gap between rich and poor, combined with a massive expansion of irregular, low-paid jobs.

South Korean government deploys police against shipyard protest

By Joshua Newsham, 17 August 2011

Workers at the Yeongdo shipyard in Busan are continuing their fight against the company’s axing of 400 jobs.

The 2018 Winter Olympics: Money and power

By Werner Albrecht, 12 July 2011

Major sporting events today are all about national prestige and big business, with corruption, bribery and doping playing ever-increasing roles.

Growing death toll among former Ssangyong workers in South Korea

By Joshua Newsham, 2 June 2011

Workers continue to die in tragic circumstances following the betrayal of the 77-day Ssangyong occupation in 2009.

South Korean president reshuffles cabinet after by-election defeats

By John Chan, 23 May 2011

A major factor behind the electoral losses is growing discontent over rising prices and worsening social inequality.

Washington and Seoul ramp up tensions on Korean peninsula

By John Roberts, 4 March 2011

South Korea’s latest joint military exercises with the US dovetail with the Obama administration’s aggressive efforts to contain China’s influence in North East Asia.

South Korea and Japan discuss first-ever military agreements

By John Chan, 13 January 2011

The US is pushing its allies, Japan and South Korea, into closer defence relations as part of its broader efforts to counter Chinese influence in the region.

Military tensions remain high on Korean peninsula

By John Chan, 30 December 2010

With strong backing from Washington, the South Korean government is continuing a series of provocative military drills that threaten to lead to conflict with North Korea.

Backed by Washington, South Korea stages further military provocations

By John Chan, 23 December 2010

Today’s live-fire drill further demonstrates the reckless determination of the South Korean regime and its chief backer, the Obama administration, to intensify pressure on North Korea and China, regardless of the danger of war.

Washington’s incendiary role in Asia

By Bill Van Auken, 22 December 2010

Washington’s encouragement of South Korea’s live-fire military exercise in disputed waters off the North Korean coast is emblematic of the increasingly incendiary role played by US imperialism in Asia.

Korean tensions ease—temporarily

By John Chan, 21 December 2010

The Obama administration engineered this crisis as part of its ongoing campaign directed primarily at undermining China’s growing influence in Asia.

South Korean military exercise raises danger of war

By John Chan, 20 December 2010

In a calculated and reckless provocation directed in the first instance against North Korea, the Obama administration has encouraged South Korea to proceed with live-fire drills in the vicinity of Yeonpyeong Island.

US negotiates free trade agreement with South Korea

By John Chan, 7 December 2010

In essence, Washington has forced its junior ally to make key concessions on the economic front, in exchange for greater US military protection.

US-China tensions mount amid widening war exercises

By Bill Van Auken, 7 December 2010

A late Sunday phone call between the US and Chinese presidents underscored the mounting tensions between the two countries as Washington and its allies stage a series of military exercises.

Artillery exchange heightens tensions on Korean peninsula

By Bill Van Auken, 24 November 2010

An exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea on Tuesday provoked angry denunciations from Washington and warnings from Beijing and Moscow that mounting military tensions could provoke a disaster.

Australia: Government and unions complicit in death of undocumented Korean worker

By Noel Holt, 4 October 2010

Myung Yeol Hwang, a 51-year-old Korean construction worker, died in tragic circumstances in Sydney in late August—homeless and unable to obtain basic medical care.

US and China at odds over North Korea

By John Chan, 8 September 2010

Rising US-China rivalry in Asia was expressed last week when Beijing pushed for Pyongyang to open up to foreign investors, while Washington announced new sanctions that would impede such plans.

Tense standoff between two Koreas

By Peter Symonds, 28 May 2010

The confrontation between North and South Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship intensified this week after Seoul, backed by Washington, announced a series of retaliatory measures.

South Korea imposes penalties on North over naval incident

By Peter Symonds, 25 May 2010

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated markedly after Seoul accused Pyongyang of deliberately sinking the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, on March 26.

Unexplained naval sinking produces political crisis in South Korea

By John Chan, 26 April 2010

President Lee Myung-bak is increasingly under pressure from sections of his right-wing Grand National Party and the military to take action against North Korea over the incident.

South Korea: Kumho Tire workers reject sell-out agreement

By Sangjin Kim, 10 April 2010

In a two-day ballot this week, workers at Kumho Tire voted to reject an agreement reached between the company union and management to slash pay and jobs as part of a corporate debt restructuring plan.

Abuse of immigrant workers in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 27 February 2010

An Amnesty International report, entitled “Disposable labour: Rights of migrant workers in South Korea,” documents the abhorrent working conditions of immigrants.

Obama leaves Asia empty-handed

By John Chan, 21 November 2009

South Korea, the final leg of Obama’s Asian trip, was no more successful that his other stops. Obama failed to make any advance toward a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Naval clash between two Koreas as Obama heads to Asia

By John Chan, 12 November 2009

Just days before US President Barack Obama commences his first major visit to Asia, a brief exchange of fire took place between South and North Korean naval vessels.

South Korean government cracks down on workers’ rights

By Terry Cook, 26 October 2009

Following the suppression of the 77-day occupation of the Ssangyong Motor plant at Pyeongtaek in August, the government has broadened its offensive against the rights and conditions of the working class.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung dies

By John Chan, 3 September 2009

Behind the rhetoric about “democracy” and “peace”, Kim represented the interests of sections of the Korean bourgeoisie who had been marginalised under the US-backed military dictatorship.

South Korean government witch-hunts Ssangyong workers

By Terry Cook, 24 August 2009

Following the end of the 77-day occupation of Ssangyong Motor’s plant in Pyeongtaek, the government of President Lee Myung-bak is carrying out a police vendetta against the workers involved.

South Korea: The political lessons of the Ssangyong occupation

By James Cogan, 18 August 2009

The state crackdown on the Ssangyong occupation demonstrates that the defence of the basic right to a job is a revolutionary question.

Korean unions end Ssangyong occupation on company terms

By Terry Cook, 7 August 2009

The Korean Metal Workers Union called off the occupation at the Ssangyong Motor plant after striking a deal that accepts the mass lay-offs demanded by the management.

South Korea: Violent police operation mounted against Ssangyong auto occupation

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 August 2009

More than 4,000 South Korean riot police, backed by private security and nonunion company goons, have launched a violent assault on more than 500 auto workers at the Ssangyong factory in Pyeongtaek.

South Korean “non-regular” workers face mass job losses

By Ben McGrath, 29 July 2009

A parliamentary standoff over new laws making it easier to sack workers has highlighted the political instability produced in South Korea by the global economic crisis, with more than 300 “non-regular” workers losing their jobs every day.

South Korea: Riot police sent to break Ssangyong occupation

By Terry Cook, 27 July 2009

Thousands of heavily-armed riot police have laid siege to Ssangyong Motor’s factory in Pyeongtaek where around 900 workers and supporters continue to occupy a major building.

South Korean government prepares to break Ssangyong occupation

By Terry Cook, 16 July 2009

Police moved in with forklifts to remove barriers outside Ssangyong Motor’s Pyeongtaek plant in preparation for a police assault to break the occupation.

Ssangyong occupation supporters speak to the WSWS

“If these workers fail, restructuring will become normal”

By a correspondent, 16 July 2009

A WSWS correspondent spoke to supporters outside South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor assembly plant, which workers have occupied for eight weeks.

South Korean government prepares new assault on Ssangyong occupation

By Terry Cook, 11 July 2009

Workers are continuing to occupy Ssangyong Motor’s assembly plant to fight mass sackings amid signs that the government is preparing another violent operation to storm the plant.

The death of former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun

By Adam Haig, 6 July 2009

The outpouring of public sympathy for Roh following his death is misplaced in view of his record in office. Nevertheless, the widespread mourning points to bitterness over the deepening social divide in the country.

South Korea: Clashes erupt at Ssangyong factory occupation

By Terry Cook, 1 July 2009

A lengthy factory occupation in defence of jobs at Ssangyong Motor’s Pyeongtaek plant in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province reached a critical turning point last weekend. Clashes took place between occupying workers and several thousand company thugs, supervisory staff and non-striking workers.