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[Opinion] Union`s Blind Worship of North Korea

Posted October. 29, 2008 08:19,   


Kwak Min-hyeong, a delegate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and senior vice president of the Korean Chemical and Textile Workers Federation, publicly withdrew his membership from the confederation and the progressive Democratic Labor Party, criticizing them as the playground of pro-North Korea followers. “They took advantage of innocent students for the candlelight rallies. They are again trying to arouse social turmoil in the middle of the financial crisis,” he said. “It’s time to stand up and say no to the argument ‘Only unification can bring liberation to workers and withdrawal of U.S. troops from (South) Korea will bring peace to us.’”

South Koreans are sick and tired of the labor confederation for its leftist and anti-American political struggle and striking for the sake of striking. Thus Kwak’s plea is deeply felt by the people. Confederation chairman Lee Seok-haeng told reporters early this year, “We will wage a struggle that will send the country`s sovereign rating plunging. We will go on a general strike, shutting down railroad and airline services and utilities,” in threatening the fledgling Lee Myung-bak administration. Wanted by authorities, Lee Seok-haeng is now hiding in Jogye Temple for leading the rally against U.S. beef imports. In June, when skyrocketing oil prices were threatening the economy, he promised to wage a rolling strike like in baseball, using all confederation members. No wonder Koreans define the union as a group specializing in sabotaging the economy.

In the protests against American beef, which were led by progressives and leftists, the confederation encouraged members to participate, saying, “Serving the rallies to the best of our abilities is our primary obligation.” Attending the May Day ceremony in Pyongyang on May 1, 2006, 50 confederation members paid tribute to the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang, inviting heavy criticism in South Korea. Many South Koreans told them not to return and instead live in their "paradise" in the North. The confederation`s worship of communism did not stop there. In January last year, the group posted propagandistic lectures by professors from North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University on its homepage. Who wouldn`t call these people communist worshippers and the organization a playground for Kim Jong Il worshippers.

The leftists disguised the People`s Association for Measures against Mad Cow Disease under the new name of the People’s Council for Better Lives and Democracy to organize more public protests. Of course, the confederation is at the core of the movement. South Korea is faced with the effects of the global financial tsunami, and needs to muster up the power and means to overcome the crisis. But pro-North Korea figures are busy arousing social conflict and turmoil. The self-criticism of a single confederation member can be heard throughout the country. Without change, more of the group`s members and the people will turn their backs on the confederation, like Kwak did.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)