[OPE-L:3933] Re: Nationwide Strike in S.Korea Against

Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Sun, 5 Jan 1997 19:29:28 -0800 (PST)

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Seongjin wrote in [3930]:

>As I well know that OPE-L is not so appropriate place to discuss the
>ongoing workers' struggle in S.Korea, my response to Chai-on will be as
>brief as possible.
>It is highly probable that current 'bureaucratic' general strike would
>end up nothing but a sort of ritualism, and would be fully exploited by
>or absorbed into the political games in coming Presidential
>election between contending bourgeois parties, unless spontaneous
>struggle of rank and file workers succeed to overcome their reformistic
>leaders and proceed to the general mass strike in the sense of Rosa
>As to current situation in S.Korea, I am not so optimistic as Chai-on,
>but I do believe in the final victory of workers' struggle in South Korea
>and all over the world.

I also am not optimistic, and yet not pessimistic either. The present
situation is too complicate to plot such a game as you imagine. Current
strikes are mobilized not by the leaders but by the requests from rank and
file workers. Reformists (Federation of Democratic Unions) leaders are drawn
to the struggle, their leadership is in a trial. North korea is going to
emerge in 1997 on the international arena as a good friend, on which South
korean government is in conflict with US government. Since there is no
possibility of the left swing in S Korea, US and Japan do not listen to the
complaint of the S Korea gov'nmt. The worst economic situation might justify
a fascist measure. But it cannot be a good point for the would-be-nominated
candidate in the presidential election. Rather, it could be an advantageous
turning-point in our struggle. The committee which originally prepared the
revision is wrecked, two members withdrew from it for the reason that they
have been abused, betrayed and deceived. Lawyers raised a suit against the
process of its passage. In short, it is certain that this strike is not
consciously taken into account by the present gov't. The gov't believes the
workers are weak, and the workers know they are weak. But the workers are
going to continue the strikes until July. The gov't would take legal steps.
The tension will be developed gradually. Wider protests are certain to be
mobilized. I do not think this would lead to a revolution. But, what can the
reformists do in this process? They can do nothing but following the movement.

With regards,

Chai-on Lee
Faculty of Economics,
Chonnam National University,
Kwang-Ju, 500-757,
S Korea
Tel +82-62-520 7329
Fax +82-62-529 0446
E-m: conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr