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Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 22:21:33—0500 (CDT)
From: Arm The Spirit <ats@locust.etext.org>
Subject: 1st People’s Rally In Seoul— May 15, 1999
Article: 65600
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.9519.19990527181546@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Report Of The 1st People’s Rally On May 15

PICIS Newsletter, no. 53, 21 May 1999

The 1st People’s Rally was organized on the 15th of May by the Pan-National Movement Alliance for People’s Livelihood Rights, Reform of Society, and against the IMF. Around 8,000 people gathered. It aimed at collecting the potential resistance power of all sectors, such as workers, peasants, the urban poor, and students, against the government and also at supporting the workers’ struggle against the restructuring and massive lay-offs.

Lee Gap-Yong, president of KCTU, said at this rally: The KCTU’s all-out struggle, started from SSWU’s strike on the 19th of April, is successful in terms of disseminating serious social problems such as ’unanimous restructuring’, ’redundancy dismissal’, and ’privatization’, even though it has fundamental limitations. And he added: We conclude the April and May struggles, and now return to individual work places. But it does never mean that we give up the concentrated struggle against the government, but it means to prepare for another phase of struggle in June. If the government continues to reject workers’ demands, we will re-organize a stronger struggle in mid-June.

Mr. Jung Kwang-Woon, president of National Farmers’ League, said: Farmers are suffering from the heavy debt. But the government doesn’t offer any resolution to the debt while reducing the Chaebol’s debt. The present government is not a so-called ’National Government’, because it excludes such genuine nation as workers, peasants, the urban poor, and students in processing its economic and social policies. He concluded by saying that all the debt should be cancelled, all the land owned by Chaebol should be returned to peasants, and all the political prisoners should be released.

After the rally in the plaza of YongSan railway station, participants marched to the MyungDong Cathedral and distributed leaflets to the citizens on the street. At the end of march, students and some unionists clashed against the police with throwing stones in the crossroad near the MyungDong Cathedral. Around 30 combatant participants were arrested while fighting against the riot police.

At the MyungDong Cathedral, this rally was concluded. Participants made up their mind to push the government stronger to accept people’s demands with continuous struggle. However, some participants gave critical viewpoints on this rally. They said: Today’s rally seemed to be a ’space of hatred-explosion’ against the capitalistic system. It was not planned well. Most speakers at the rally made the similar addresses. No one spoke about the perspective of people’s struggle, they only said ’struggle! struggle! struggle!’. What are our alternatives to neoliberal restructuring? Workers should make their own resolutions more persuasive and more concrete against the neoliberal policies of the government.