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Message-ID: <199711241247410500.000234F2@mail.gn.apc.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 12:47:41 +0000
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Chris Bailey <chrisbailey@GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Re: Important news from Korean labor movement
Comments: To: union-d@wolfnet.com, united@cougar.com

Important news from Korean labor movement

Discussion on the Labor-l@yorku.ca, 24 November 1997

On 11/24/97, at 9:53 AM, Eric Lee wrote:

> The latest issue of the newsletter of People’s Victory 21—the new South
> Korean labor party—is now available on the Web. Follow the links at
> Latest News on the Solidarity with Korea’s Labour Movement home page:
> http://www.solinet.org/LEE/korea.html


I know some people, including you, are dying to find some new life for Social Democracy in the Korean developments, but I think it is a mistake to describe People’s Victory 21 as the new South Korean labor party particularly when it is not describing itself that way.

The general strike last year led by the KCTU rapidly propelled it into a widely recognised leading role in the fight for general democratic rights in Korea. People’s Victory 21 has arisen from this. The previous umbrella alliance of democratic movements in South Korea, the National Alliance for Democracy and Reunification was formed in 1991, and did I believe campaign in the 1992 Presidential elections. It represents a wide alliance of various forces around a program of democratisation of Korean society, but also for reunification and rejection of foreign intervention in Korea. Major constituent organisations in the NADRK are the Korean Farmers League, Korean Teacher’s and Educational Workers’ Union and the Korea Association of Bereaved Families for Democracy. I think this gives a taste of the range of organisations involved.

Peoples Victory 21 is an alliance between NADRK and the KCTU with NADRK recognising the leading role of labour in the fight to democratise Korea, but with the KCTU assuming what is essentially a liberal democratic program. Its industrial policy seems much more influenced by German style co-determination than socialism in any form. I think it would be totally wrong to assume that Social Democracy is any more viable today in South Korea than it is proving to be elsewhere. The KCTU is on the one hand assuming a leading role in the movement towards liberal democracy in Korea, on the other hand it is being forced to recognise the consequences of globalisation and is increasingly considering the importance of labour internationalism and international communications for the labour movement, as we both witnessed so graphically when they invited us to Korea.

I would argue that neither of these roles for the KCTU represent a movement towards Social Democracy.

I think we need to open up an area on the Internet where these vital questions for international labour can be discussed in detail, with proper papers written etc.

all the best,

Chris Bailey