For the past eight weeks mass protests have rocked South Korea demanding the resignation of the president Park Geun-hye.
Last Saturday 650,000 people took to the streets in the capital Seoul, despite the parliamentary vote to impeach Park the previous week.
People were angry to see Park—and her government—refusing to step down.
Park has brazenly submitted to the Constitutional Court, a body which needs to ratify the impeachment, that she had “done nothing wrong.” Park’s prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, is now acting president and has made clear that he would continue her policies.
The establishment, from the right-wing press to the official opposition parties including the social-democratic Justice Party, has argued that people should allow the prime minister to stabilise the country and wait for the constitutional court to decide.
Last Saturday’s protesters defied that idea, marching towards the prime minister’s office and the constitutional court as well as protesting outside the presidential residence as usual.
People shouted, “Arrest Park, prime minister Hwang should also step down, the constitutional court should not delay ratifying the decision.” The number of protesters was much larger than the organisers expected, reflecting the anger and potential behind this movement.
A woman spoke on behalf of the families of victims of the Sewol ferry disaster that cost 305 lives. She said, “It is shame that Park and Hwang are out there while KCTU trade union federation president Han Sang-Gyun is still in jail. It is Park who should be arrested and Han should be released!”
The majority of the South Korean ruling class now seems to be prepared to save its own skin by removing Park and her immediate cabinet colleagues. But many people call Park’s policies “accumulated evils” and want them scrapped along with Park.
Park has been pushing through labour “reforms” and cutting welfare to maintain bosses’ profits at a time of deepening economic crisis. Park has also been pursuing policies to push South Korea closer to the interests of US imperialism.
The official opposition parties are reluctant to support the demand for halting “labour reforms”, closing US military bases or even freeing the jailed KCTU president. They voted for impeachment only when they were forced to and are refusing to demand the Prime Minister’s and his cabinet’s resignation, a key demand of the movement.
NGOs are still arguing that the movement needs to work with these parties.
But Stalinists, previously aligned with the NGOs, are starting to vacillate because they feel the movement needs to attack the Prime Minister.
Revolutionaries can provide the movement with vital demands that target Park’s policies in order to mobilise people to more actions in the streets, schools and workplaces. These demands are different from the ones being raised by reformists, including the NGOs, which are basically election platforms for the next presidential election.
The Workers’ Solidarity newspaper sells several thousand copies on every protest, and our key members are in the very midst of organising the protests.
We know socialist politics and organisation are very important. We need an independent revolutionary organisation capable of pushing the demands of the movement forward.