Struggle News #5, June 16, 2009.
Last week news
Sometime two weeks ago the Korea Press Consumerism Organization launched a new boycott of companies that do not advertise in the Hankyoreh and Kyunghyang newspapers. Last year, this group launched a boycott of companies that advertise in the major conservative dailies including the Chosun daily, the JungAng daily and the Dong-A daily. The KCPOs plan is to concentrate the boycott on one company at a time, demanding advertising policy change. The first companies that will be targeted are those that advertise in the major conservative dailies but don’t advertise in the Hankyoreh or Kyunghyang newspapers. The KPCO is an NGO that was established in August 2008 in order to “monitor biased and distorted media and contribute to the development of media that practices fair and objective reporting.” In last year’s boycott, the KPCO organized people to telephone companies and ask that they stop advertising in the major conservative dailies. 24 members of the KPCO were held in court and in February, they were sentenced to up to 10 months in jail for using the internet in appealing for a boycott. The conviction states that using the internet to appeal for a boycott is against the law. The crime is called “interference of work” and is based on the guilty party exercising a type of power based on threats and undermining the victim’s free will. The boycott had a major impact on the conservative dailies’ advertisement revenues. This conviction means that the only legal boycotts are ones that are accepted by the courts and which don’t exercise power that can affect companies.
Wed, June 10 ? There was an event called the “140 artists action day for the people who can’t leave.” This event was attended by thousands of people, happening from 1pm until about 1:30am at night. There was music performances, dance performances, really really free markets, photography, workshops, painting walls in the area, stencil graffiti, making banners all throughout the day. Around 2pm, thugs hired by construction corporations came to destroy artwork that people were making on the walls. They physically attacked artists and journalists for about 30 minutes then left. We also made an “action garden” in front of the Candle Light Media Center. We also made a guerrilla garden in the street and filled it with peppers, tomatoes and lettuce. However, the next day around 10am, corporate thugs came back and started destroying artwork on the walls. They destroyed about half the artwork. Around this time, the thugs also completely destroyed the guerrilla garden and all the vegetables planted there.
Thurs, June 11 ? There was a large candle light vigil held in DaeHangMoon across from Seoul City Square. This was held for the victims of the Yongsan disaster on Jan 20 and for Park Jong Tae. After the DaeHanTongOon corporation laid off 30 workers, cut pay rates and consistently refuses to recognize delivery workers as workers, but instead recognizes them as “small business owners,” forcing them to use their own vehicles, pay for insurance, health care and gas (working without any benefits), Park Jong Tae committed suicide in early May, demanding that these conditions be changed. His body was found in the DaeHanTongOon headquarters in Daejeon.
Thurs, June 11 ? On Thursday, the Korean Cargo Transport Workers Union began a general strike. The DaeHanTongOon corporation refused to listen to the demands of Park Jong Tae after committed suicide in early May, so the KCTWU went on strike on thursday. The Korean government contacted non-union cargo transport workers for them to work extra hours in order to make the KCTWU strike powerless. Because of this, the KCTWU had to try to engage in negotiations with the DaeHanTongOon corporation. They came to an agreement on two agreements: 1) rehiring the 30 laid off workers; 2) cancelled pay cuts. However, the DaeHanTongOon refused to recognize the workers as workers. The general strike officially stopped on 11am yesterday, June 15, after the KCTWU members supported the compromise by a 76.5% support vote.
Sat, Jun 13 - At least 3 riot cop buses have been parked in front of the sit-in location in Yongsan for more than 5 months. On saturday, June 13, the riot cop buses finally disappeared. Comrades at the sit-in location continually protested and complained about the constant presence of the cop buses because they were constantly running and exhaust fumes were making the air filthy and harming those with asthma in the area. The cop buses were also loud and obnoxious. Moreover, the cops ran out of reasons for the continuous occupation of the street. The cops had no way to justify their presence. They were probably trying to hide the presence of the sit-in struggle and events that are always happening at the sit-in location and neighboring Candle Light Media Center. They probably realized that they could no longer hide this area and that it was nothing but a waste of money. The cop buses finally left the area on the 13th but returned yesterday evening, the 15th, during a huge catholic mass attended by more than 700 people. During the catholic mass, a stage was erected near the street and banners were set up all around the area. An official manifesto was written by catholic church priests demanding that the Lee MB regime to step down if it doesn’t change their policies. We are guessing that the cops are trying to hide events from cars passing by and pedestrians by parking their huge buses in front, but we will prove to them that their efforts are a trifling waste of time, money and energy because they can’t stop our events here.
Sat June 13 ? From 4pm there was a large demonstration in Yongsan that was attended by lots of people, maybe 700. Since the cop buses were gone, people didn’t have to deal with cop harassment.
Mon, June 15 ? A right-wing fascist network called the Patriotic Groups Pan-National Alliance had a demonstration in Seoul Station at 3pm to protest the historic meeting between former South Korean President Kim Dae Joong and North Korean President Kim Jeong Il. On June 15, 2000, an agreement was made between these two governments in order to started reunification, food and financial aid, and economic reintegration by allowing South Korea corporations to exploit North Korean cheap labor, and opening Diamond Mountain for tourism in North Korea. The right-wing fascist Patriotic Groups Pan-National Alliance advocate invading the North and overthrowing Kim Jeong Il, so they are protesting the peaceful reunification movement. They also argue for extermination of all “left-wingers” who they consider “pro-North commies.” They hang those banners in my neighborhood too. They mobilized regional members for the demonstration by promising to pay 50,000 won per day of attending demonstrations that started yesterday. After the rally ended, about 50 core members of this fascist group went to DaeHanMoon were there are spots where people are mourning and paying respect for the dead, including ex-prez No Moo Hyun, Park Jong Tae, and the victims who were murdered by police in the Yongsan disaster which took place on Jan 20. ChoongGu district office sent official documents to these locations demanding they clear up the streets and threatening to remove these locations coercively. The No Moo Hyun location made a commitment to keep the location until 49 days after the ex-prezes death. These 50 fascists showed up with guns, saying that they will remove these mourning locations. The head authority fired 3 gun shots in the air during a conflict with police in the area. They didn’t succeed in destroying the mourning spots.
Thurs, June 18 ? 150 day anniversary of the Yongsan massacre which happened on Jan 20, in which 5 people were murdered by the Korean SWAT team when occupying the namildang building in resistance to forced eviction and redevelopment. 1 cop also died. There will be a demonstration at the namildang building, the current location of the sit-in struggle.
Fri, June 19 - A party will be held in shinchon to raise money for our comrade java who's in jail for participating in a demonstration on May 2nd. Go to the Mapo-Gu Candle Light Solidarity website for more information: cafe.daum.net/mapocandle
Sat, June 20 ? There will be a demonstration at 4pm at CheonGye Plaza to commemorate 5 months since the Yongsan massacre. This will be a big demonstration.