Thursday, February 24, 2005

NK Human Rights

I recently read this short article about a call from former prisoner-of-conscience Baik Tae-Ung for the Korean left to discuss the problem of North Korean human rights. I think it's a brave statement for him to make. As he says:

"Because South Korea's past dictators used North Korean human rights to justify their oppression and anti-communist ideology, it's true that democratization forces find it somewhat unpleasant to actively raise the North Korean human rights issue," Baik said. Instead, he suggested that improvements in Pyongyang’s human rights record would strengthen a “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with the North and, later, help with “a vision for a unified Korea". But he cautioned, "We just have to raise the issue of North Korean human rights based on precise facts, and we mustn't let a political agenda or outside forces use the issue as a negotiating tool."

I think the caution at the end of the quote is telling. It's extremely important to avoid having such a discussion being used by the US or other forces as a pretext for violence. Anyways, this a pretty sore topic as far as I know for the South Korean left, but I'd be curious to see where the discussion goes.

More on this later...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Backgrounder: Migrant Worker Union

Here are some of the articles we've written for ZNET on the Equality Trade Union from most recent on. The ETU is a union of migrant workers in South Korea.

Migrant Workers and the Politics of Resentment DEC. 01/04
The Last Public Space?, 06/12/04
S. Korean Repression, 02/23/04
Migrant Workers and the Struggle for Political Space, 01/28/04
Biting The Arms Of The State: Migrant Workers Continue To Fight , 01/8/04
Towards a Transnational Grassroots: , 01/5/04
Interview with Kabir Uddin of the Equality Trade Union Jan 5 04.
Drag The Illegal Foreign Workers Out Into The Sun South Korea Deports, Migrant Workers Fight for Justice December 18, 2003.

Two Koreas: A First Go

This is the first go of our new blog. The point of this one is to provide a forum for discussing and tracking Korean social movements and important current affairs on the penninsula for an english-speaking audience. We see this as a way to expand understanding of and solidarity for social movements that are trying to democratically reconfigure politics in the region. Obviously our coverage will neccessarily be partial and reflect our own particular linkages to and resources on Korean social movements and comprehension of Korean politics (North and South), but, hey, that's what a blog is for isn't it. As we proceed we'll tell you a little more about who we are, but the moment I can say that the key areas of interest for us that will be featured on this blog will be the migrant's rights movement, the labour movement, and North Korean politics. Anti-war, Civil Society, and Youth movements are other interests as well. So that's three strong areas to begin with, with more to develop. Hopefully things go well from here. Feel free to share your ideas or express interest in linking, contributing, assisting this blog.