North and South Korea

Typhoon compounds North Korean food shortages

By Amanda Hitchcock, 21 August 1999

The typhoon that struck the Korean peninsula earlier this month has compounded chronic food shortages in North Korea, which has been afflicted by widespread famine over the last five years. The rain broke the drought, which was affecting this year's harvest, but only created new problems. Even before the full force of the typhoon hit the country, torrential rains left more than 40,000 hectares of farmland submerged. The typhoon itself killed 42 people and left nearly 40,000 homeless.

Arrest of workers continues as

South Korean president releases rival's wealthy son

By Terry Cook, 19 August 1999

Despite widespread public opposition, South Korea's President Kim Dae Jung used his presidential powers last weekend to pardon Kim Hyun Chul, the convicted son of the country's former president Kim Young Sam, who left office at the end of 1997.

US, Japan exert sharp pressure on North Korea over possible missile test

By Peter Symonds, 11 August 1999

Sharp pressures are being exerted on North Korea by the US, Japan and South Korea to abandon any plans for a test firing of its long-range Taepodong II missile. Even though such a missile launch breaches no international treaties or any of the US-brokered agreements with North Korea, both the Clinton administration and the Japanese government have warned of “serious consequences” if the test proceeds.

South Korea's economic recovery—a recovery for whom?

By Terry Cook, 17 July 1999

According to recent reports, South Korea's economy is on the road to recovery. The Bank of Korea issued a statement last week predicting 6.8 percent economic growth with one percent inflation this year.

Officials arrested for shoddy construction

Youth centre fire in South Korea claims 23 lives

By Terry Cook, 6 July 1999

Six local council officials have been taken into police custody in the wake of the fire in South Korea that tore through the Sealand Youth Training Centre last Wednesday. The police have also arrested and charged the centre's owner Park Jae Chon.

G-8 powers warn North Korea over missile tests

By Peter Symonds, 26 June 1999

The Group of Eight (G-8) major powers turned up the pressure on North Korea last Sunday with a sharp warning in their final communiqué that they were “deeply concerned” over the country's missile flight tests and alleged missile proliferation. The statement said the group would “examine further individual and collective means of addressing the problem” and enforcing its Missile Technology Control Regime.

Rising tensions on the Korean peninsula:

South Korea sinks North Korean torpedo boat

By Peter Symonds, 17 June 1999

Tensions between the two Koreas rose on Tuesday after South Korean naval vessels sank a North Korean torpedo boat and badly damaged several other ships during a clash in disputed waters to the west of the peninsula.

Visit by US envoy intensifies pressure on North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 10 June 1999

US presidential envoy William Perry last month headed the highest-level US delegation to North Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Despite the reportedly cordial nature of the talks, hailed by both sides as “sincere and expressing mutual respect,” the aim of the visit was to intensify the pressure on the North Korean regime to meet US demands for the dismantling of the country's missile and nuclear programs.

Interview with a WSWS reader

Joblessness and poverty in South Korea

1 June 1999

The following is an interview with a World Socialist Web Site reader, who lives in South Korea, describing the impact of the Asian economic crisis on the living standards of working people. The reader moved to South Korea from North America nearly two years ago and teaches English in the capital Seoul.

South Korea:

Government intensifies arrests as union calls off strikes

By Terry Cook, 26 May 1999

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), South Korea's second largest peak union body, called an abrupt end to its "May offensive" last week after the government of Kim Dae Jung made an offer to conduct direct discussions with union leaders.

Correspondence on the South Korean strikes

18 May 1999

To the Editor,

South Korea's "second wave" of strikes winds down

By Terry Cook and Peter Symonds, 15 May 1999

A “second wave” of industrial action in South Korea, called by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) against widespread economic restructuring and job losses, is on the brink of folding up just days after the campaign was launched on Wednesday.

Korean unions call off subway and Telecom strikes

By Peter Symonds, 29 April 1999

Thousands of striking subway workers in the South Korean capital of Seoul returned to work on Monday and Tuesday after a week of industrial action against the decision to destroy more than 2,000 jobs as part of widespread cutbacks to public services and state-owned enterprises.

Strikes erupt in South Korea against restructuring and job losses

By Terry Cook, 21 April 1999

South Korean workers from 20 companies went on strike Monday in support of a campaign launched by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the country's second largest peak union body, to oppose corporate restructuring and mass layoffs.

As the US maintains economic blockade

A human catastrophe unfolds in North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 7 April 1999

While the international media, for definite political ends, is highlighting the plight of refugees in Kosovo, little or no attention has been focussed on humanitarian disasters elsewhere in the world, particularly North Korea, where US policies, including an economic blockade, are contributing directly to the severe food shortages, widespread malnutrition and starvation for the fourth year in a row.

US, Japan turn up the pressure on Pyongyang regime

An explosive situation on the Korean peninsula

By Peter Symonds, 1 April 1999

A minor naval incident in the Sea of Japan last week has highlighted the potential for north-east Asia, and the Korean peninsula in particular, to be rapidly transformed into another arena, like the Middle East and the Balkans, for military intervention by the major powers.

Amid further restructuring and layoffs

South Korean unions threaten national strikes

By Terry Cook, 16 March 1999

South Korea's second largest trade union grouping, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), last Friday threatened to call strikes and protest rallies unless President Kim Dae Jung called a halt to plans for further corporate restructuring and widespread layoffs.

Korean union federation quits government economic committee

By Terry Cook, 6 March 1999

Amid signs of growing industrial unrest, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of country's two peak union bodies, has left the tripartite committee of employers, government and unions created by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung last year.

South Korean workers fight mass job cuts

By David Harvey, 10 February 1999

Over the past two months spasmodic strikes and protests have erupted in some of South Korea's major conglomerates in opposition to large-scale restructuring plans that threaten 100,000 to 150,000 jobs.

South Korean bank unions call off indefinite strike

By Keith Morgan, 1 October 1998

Unprecedented violence used against Korean workers

By Keith Morgan, 11 September 1998

Thousands of riot police attack Korean workers

By Mike Head, 4 September 1998

South Korean Hyundai workers rebuff union leaders

By Shannon Jones, 3 September 1998

Korean unions accept Hyundai job cuts

Angry workers denounce agreement

By Richard Phillips, 28 August 1998

Striking auto workers, police clash in Korea

By Jerry White, 19 August 1998

Hyundai workers continue to fight lay-offs

Korean unions trade-off wages and conditions

By Terry Cook, 12 August 1998

Thousands of South Korean auto workers employed by Hyundai have refused to return to work and are continuing to take action against lay-offs.

Hyundai workers sacked in South Korea

By Peter Symonds, 1 August 1998

South Korea's largest auto company, Hyundai Motor Co, yesterday fired more than 1,500 workers.

Green light for mass layoffs

Unions cancel Korean general strike

By Mike Head, 25 July 1998

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions called off last Thursday's proposed general strike at the last minute, leaving thousands of auto, bank and public sector workers confronting mass layoffs.

Auto layoffs spark general strike call in Korea

Kim Dae Jung detains union leaders

By Mike Head, 23 July 1998

Thousands of South Korean auto and metal workers have walked off the job in the first stage of a proposed indefinite general strike against mass retrenchments.

Thousands strike in Korea despite arrests

By Mike Head, 16 July 1998

Thousands of workers struck across South Korea on Wednesday on the second day of a national strike against mass layoffs.

Rising unemployment provokes widespread industrial unrest

Mass strike and rally called in South Korea

By Peter Symonds, 11 July 1998

Between 100,000 and 200,000 South Korean workers are expected to take part in a mass rally in Seoul tomorrow to protest continuing sackings.

Ford moves to take over Kia Motors

By Terry Cook, 4 July 1998

A heated battle is taking place between Ford and South Korea's two largest car makers, Hyundai and Daewoo, for control of the failed Kia Motors

South Korean workers demand halt to mass layoffs

By Peter Symonds, 29 May 1998

Up to 120,000 workers took part in strikes and rallies across South Korea on May 27-28, protesting against the rapid rise of joblessness since the beginning of the year. The official unemployment rate reached nearly 1.5 million or 6.7 percent in April, the highest level in 12 years.

South Korean workers protest mass retrenchments

By Peter Symonds, 22 April 1998

Strikes and protests have erupted in South Korea over the last week against a continuing wave of corporate restructuring and retrenchments. The industrial unrest is the most extensive since former opposition leader Kim Dae Jung was installed as president in February.

Kim Dae Jung and unions enforce IMF program

Korean unemployment doubles in six weeks

By Peter Symonds, 3 April 1998

Unemployment levels are soaring in South Korea, as the newly installed Kim Dae Jung government, backed by the trade unions, implements the International Monetary Fund's economic restructuring program.

Kim Dae Jung and unions enforce IMF program

Korean unemployment doubles in six weeks

By Peter Symonds, 3 April 1998

Unemployment has jumped by a million in South Korea in only six weeks, as IMF austerity policies are carried out.

Kim Dae Jung's inauguration as South Korean president

From opposition leader to IMF linchpin

By Peter Symonds, 11 March 1998

Amid a rapidly deepening economic and social crisis in South Korea, long-time opposition figure Kim Dae Jung was formally sworn in as president on February 25 at an elaborate ceremony attended by 45,000 people, including pop stars, diplomats, businessmen and political leaders.

The capitulation of the South Korean unions

By Peter Symonds, 25 February 1998

Over the past decade the emergence of a mass, semi-legal, militant trade union movement in South Korea has been cited by various radical and "left" tendencies around the world as evidence that trade unionism is a viable perspective in today’s global economy.

South Korea unions abandon strike

13 February 1998

Only three days after rejecting an agreement to legalize mass layoffs, officials of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions called off a general strike that had been set for February 13 to demand new talks with president-elect Kim Dae Jung. As many as 100,000 workers were expected to join the strike, hitting the most important sectors of South Korean heavy industry, including auto, shipbuilding, steel and electronics.

Korean unions agree to mass layoffs

10 February 1998

In the early hours of February 6, after haggling over details in an all-night negotiating session, the two South Korean union federations agreed to a deal with representatives of big business and president-elect Kim Dae Jung to legalize mass layoffs for the first time in decades.