Socialist Worker

Mass movement demanding resignation of hated South Korean president is growing

by Workers Solidarity (South Korean sister organisation of the SWP)
Issue No. 2529

200,000 people protested last Saturday. Over half a million are expected on the streets this weekend

200,000 people protested last Saturday. Over half a million are expected on the streets this weekend (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


The movement demanding the resignation of South Korean president Park Geun-hye reached new heights last Saturday. 200,000 people joined the protest in Seoul and tens of thousands more did the same in other cities.

A day of action called for this weekend is expected to bring half a million people on to the streets.

The movement is pushing the government into crisis.

Hundreds of thousands have joined the protests

Hundreds of thousands have joined the protests (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Park Geun-hye has been forced to publicly apologise twice within 10 days as her approval ratings fell to a historic low of five percent.

The movement is different from previous ones in a number of ways.

First, it is not limited to a single issue and challenges the authority of the state.

Protests

The mass of people are exercising their political power for the first time since 1987, when huge protests and strikes forced the military dictatorship to concede basic democratic rights.

Second, the current movement was initiated by the left, whereas previous mass protests were organized by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Third, trade unions are playing a significant role in this movement. Previously, trade unionists and left wingers had to attend meetings as “individual citizens”.

Workers are being welcomed into the new movement, overturning the idea that workers are isolated.

The radical left is in a better position than ever to play a leading role in the movement

Because of these features the radical left is in a better position than ever to play a leading role in the movement.

There are debates in Popular Action, the newly-formed umbrella organization, over how to topple Park Geun-hye.

Left wing and liberal populists within the movement are seeking an alliance with opposition parties and trying to push the radical left to the margins.

Campaigning

The left of the working class movement is campaigning to press the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a left-wing trade union confederation, to call a general strike. Railway workers are already out on strike over separate demands.

Workers Solidarity, along with other left wing organisations, has initiated a petition calling for the KCTU to call a general strike—some five thousand workers signed in just two days.

The current situation is a golden opportunity for radical left activists and militant trade unionists to build pressure on the KCTU leadership.

It’s not certain that Park Geun-hye will be forced to step down. If she is there will be a presidential election within two months.

Whatever the results, it’s certain that this is a new, turbulent period in which the revolutionary left will have to commit themselves to building the class struggle.


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