Socialist Worker

South Korea: mass movement returns to the streets

by Workers Solidarity (South Korean sister organisation of the SWP)
Issue No. 2540

Protesters demand the resignation of the president and the prime minister

Protesters demand the resignation of the president and the prime minister (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Around 400,000 people took to the streets of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, last Saturday to demand the immediate resignation of president Park Geun-hye.

It was the fourteenth Saturday protest since the movement first broke out last October.

Currently, Park is suspended and the Constitutional Court is moving towards a final verdict on whether to uphold her impeachment. But Park and her gang are refusing to testify. Park’s guards at the presidential residence also recently blocked special prosecutors from carrying out a court-issued search warrant.

Meanwhile prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, appointed by Park, keeps pursuing her policies.

Although the ruling class is in general willing to sacrifice her, Park and her gang have been trying frenziedly to turn the political tide. They are gambling that if they stall the court procedure until mid-March, the Constitutional Court may become paralysed due to the retirement of some judges.

In such a situation, many people felt it is urgent to strengthen the street protest once again.

Students explain to Tube passengers why they should join the protests

Students explain to Tube passengers why they should join the protests (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


On Saturday, many protesters were bolstered by the increased size of the protest.

A speaker was received enthusiastically when he said, “The prime minister is the number one accomplice of Park’s crime. He should also resign and face criminal investigation.”

Expressing official criticism toward the bourgeois opposition parties at the main platform was a new development. Many people couldn’t agree more when a member of KCTU union federation national office shouted “Opposition parties should think straightwe cannot be complacent and just talk about presidential election when Park is fighting tooth and nail against the impeachment.”

Momentum

The moderate forces’ strategy is to translate the movement’s momentum into support for the main bourgeois opposition party, the Democratic Party, for the presidential election that will be announced if the impeachment is ratified by the Constitutional Court.

But those parties have been distancing themselves from the movement and shifted even further to the right recently. They are more interested in winning support from more conservative voters.

The radical lefts within the movement including Workers’ Solidarity have been arguing that the movement needs to be independent from those parties. The recent political development confirmed our argument and the moderate forces had to acknowledge that such parties cannot be exempted from the movement’s criticism.

There will be protests every Saturday in the coming weeks. The KCTU is planning a national mobilisation on 25 February. The radical lefts’ interventionfor more struggle from below and encouraging the participation of organised workersis very important.

 

Koreans oppose Trump’s imperialist policy

Amid worldwide protest against Donald Trump, Koreans are protesting against his imperialist policy.

US governments, including Donald Trump’s administration, have been pushing hard to deploy high-resolution military radar in Korea as part of the Missile Defence system targeting China.

Overturning the agreement between Park Geun-hye and the US has been one of the core demands by the current movement. Koreans also protested when Trump’s secretary of defence visited last week.

Yet, the bourgeois oppositional parties are ducking the issue and some even say that the agreement cannot be overturned. The prime minister took advantage of such attitudes and reassured the US that the radar will be deployed within this year during a 30-minute phone call with Trump.

In response, arguments denouncing US Missile Defence were repeatedly raised on Saturday’s protest. The US embassy is next to the central protest site and the protesters shouted “Shame on US for demanding radar deployment.”

Occupying students at Seoul's SNU university are facing repression. Please send solidarity to mail@workerssolidarity.org

 

 


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