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[Op-Ed] Anti-Business Fund

Posted September. 25, 2009 07:34,   


The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions announced Wednesday a campaign to boycott major newspapers, including The Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, and the JoongAng Ilbo. Confederation chairman Lim Sung-kyu said, “Those reading and believing articles of these dailies are no different from believing in devils. People who read these dailies are no different from those who follow devils.” Is this the confederation’s attempt to deceive the people or a line from a comedy show? In Korea, 60-70 percent of newspaper subscribers read the three dailies every day. So Lim’s statement implies that the confederation considers the majority of Koreans fools. The progressive Democratic Labor Party, which supports the confederation, has just five parliamentary seats. Does this mean people who voted for the other 295 lawmakers followed devils?

Many Koreans have seen what the confederation has done. It ordered trade unions to wage illegal strikes, like the one at Ssangyong Motor, and led aggressive demonstrations. It even attempted to cover up a rape of a teacher belonging to a teachers’ union by a high-ranking confederation member. This year, unions from around 20 companies such as KT, Ssangyong and Youngjin Pharm have bolted from the confederation, yet the umbrella labor group seems clueless over why the unions left. It is the acme of arrogance that the confederation, whose growth has been driven by participation by certain government employees’ unions, pressures dailies criticizing its faults and urging workers to support a “mature labor movement.” Is the confederation trying to deprive its members of the right to read dailies? This is no different from a dictatorial government suppressing the media.

The confederation has also threatened to boycott products manufactured by companies who advertise in the dailies. A boycott threatening companies who advertise is illegal. A court found guilty 24 people who threatened advertisers, saying, “It is not fair consumerism but an attempt to interfere with businesses by forcefully controlling the process of free decision making by companies.” Advertisers refused to yield to the threats of illegal boycott activists and gave their evidence in court. Advertisers have the liberty and right to place their ads in an efficient medium.

A so-called boycott fund has emerged as a measure to threaten advertisers. The confederation said it will participate in the Samsung Boycott Fund, financed by consumers who decline to buy products made by the Samsung Group, which does not advertise in the liberal dailies Kyunghyang Daily and Hankyoreh, but runs ads in the three major dailies. The fund is designed to threaten companies. Boycotting products manufactured by the conglomerate that provides the most and best jobs for Koreans is nothing short of threatening the jobs of Korean workers. How would the world consider a country in which such a weird union gains support?

Editorial Writer Park Yeong-kyun (parkyk@donga.com)