Under 'Terrorism' Pretext, South Korea Set to Crack Down on Protests

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Under 'Terrorism' Pretext, South Korea Set to Crack Down on Protests

WASHINGTON - Tim Shorrock reports in The Nation: “Following in the footsteps of her dictator father, South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, is cracking down on labor and citizens groups opposed to the increasingly authoritarian policies of her ruling ‘New Frontier’ party known as Saenuri.

“The situation could reach a critical point this weekend, when tens of thousands of workers organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) join forces with farmers, students, and other civic organizations in a national action in Seoul to protest Park’s conservative labor, education, and trade policies.

“On Saturday, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency banned the march, with Park’s Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong vowing to ‘uproot illegal and violent demonstration…no matter how much sacrifice is required.’ Meanwhile, the president herself equated the protesters — some of whom wear masks as protection from riot police — to terrorists.”

See New York Times “Tens of Thousands March in Seoul, Calling for Ouster of President” on last round of protests in November.

The following analysts and activists are available for interviews:

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
Lee recently wrote the piece “South Korean Labor Strikes Back.” She said today: “The KCTU is forging a broad united front with farmers and the urban poor not only to oppose the labor market reform but to mount a challenge to Park’s broader pro-corporate, pro-free trade agenda. It has called for a series of mass convergences in Seoul to build momentum for a potential general strike in the coming months. But it’s a risky fight, since Park has shown that she is willing to take extraordinary measures to silence her opposition.”

WOLSAN LIEM, kptu.intl at gmail.com
Liem is director of International Affairs, Korean Federation of Public Services and Transport Workers Union and said today: “The administration of President Park Geun-hye of Korea has repeatedly sought to weaken the rights of workers and their unions since taking office in 2013, including mobilizing police to disrupt protests and to arrest trade union leaders.”

MINJUHWA and DORAJI BAEK, veget100 at gmail.com
Daughters of Baek Nam-ki, a 69-year old farmer in critical condition after being doused with water cannons and tear gas on November 14, said,  “My father is not a terrorist; he has led a good, honorable, respectful, and decent life. We sincerely wish for justice.” See video of South Korean police firing water cannons at fallen protesters on November 14, 2015.

See: New York Times editorial: “South Korea Targets Dissent.”

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