Socialist Worker

South Korea: protesters want the president and all the 'accumulated evils' out now

by Workers Solidarity
Issue No. 2534

Park must step down and go to jail immediately, said protesters

'Park must step down and go to jail immediately,' said protesters (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Around 700,000 people took to the streets of South Korea last Saturday, Christmas Eve. It was the third mass protest after the parliamentary vote to impeach president Park Geun-hye. 

Faced with mass protests, South Korea’s ruling class wants to reduce the political instability by removing president Park from her post. Not only the ruling party but also the official opposition parties including the social-democratic Justice Party are cooperating with the cabinet appointed by Park.
 

The ruling class is counting on the fact that rather than seeking fundamental change, opposition parties are preoccupied with the upcoming presidential election. Many expect that the Constitutional Court, which must decide whether to ratify the impeachment, will make its verdict by March.

This could lead to a presidential election around May. Busy preparing for the election, the opposition parties are not seriously interested in the demands raised by the movement such as scrapping labour “reforms” that attack the working class.
 

But the ruling class does not have a firm grip on the situation. Above all, hundreds of thousands of people are continuing to protest.

Protesters depict Park and her inner circle in jail

Protesters depict Park and her inner circle in jail (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


The protesters believe they should not leave matters to the parliament and the Constitutional Court. Protesters are demanding that Park’s policies are scrapped and the cabinet (many call them “accumulated evils”) must go along with her.

Park and her group are denying every charge against them and this increases people’s anger. 

A young, unorganised worker in their mid-20s who participated in Saturday’s protest expressed the feelings of the protesters. “I want to see more than the removal of  Park alone. I have worked for four years but my wage is still fixed to the minimum wage set by law and I have no prospect of a wage increase.

“I want this situation to change, and my life to change and that is the reason why I am protesting.”

Court

The largest group of protesters again marched to the presidential residence, but the number of protesters who marched toward the Constitutional Court increased noticeably.

Many people want to pull down Park for good and are demanding the Court speeds up its procedure. They feel they should put pressure on the Court since its members are very conservative.

In Busan, the second largest city, 70,000 people took to the streets last Saturday, even more than the previous week. Organised workers, including the city’s tube workers who were on strike for economic demands, played an important role in increasing the size of the protest by holding their own rally several hours earlier.

It was a repeat of the pattern in Seoul when the annual workers’ rally in mid-November acted as springboard for the larger protest against Park.

The movement needs to use organised workers’ power to halt production to remove the “accumulated evils.” The trade unions are the organised force that make up the biggest part of the mobilisation, but do not have hegemony over the movement for the moment.

The Saturday protests are scheduled to continue at least until the Lunar New Year which starts at the end of January. The revolutionary left is continuing to intervene to increase workers’ participation in the protest and to increase workers’ influence on the leadership of the movement.

Workers' Solidarity is Socialist Worker's sister newspaper in South Korea

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