Tuesday, January 16, 2007

KGEU video, FTA protests, 386 interviews

1. Over at the KGEU site they have an English video up documenting the history of the KGEU (Korean Government Employee's Union) and the ongoing repression against them. Besides that, they also have a lot of documents from their struggle and updates on the current situation and the limitations placed on the organizing rights of public and civil servants. (video: link).

2. Yesterday was the beginning of the 6th round of Free Trade Agreement negotiation between Korea and the US, as well as, you guessed it, the sixth round of protests. The government has still outlawed all anti-FTA protests, and mobilized police around the country to stop demonstrators from traveling to Seoul (link).

There is also a controversy brewing about the banning of anti-FTA ads on television. Every day the government plays numerous and frankly dreadful and misleading ads on the television, but guess what, the broadcasting agency has said that: " we have no specific data showing that life would get worse after FTA negotiations end.’’ And so, has banned the anti-FTA ads. Well, there is specific evidence about the effects of a possible FTA for the farm and film sectors, and this is not really in dispute. Also there no specific evidence that life will get better for the majority of the population either, so why the double treatment? Anyways, I never knew there was such a high bar for accuracy in advertising (and these ads are surely more accurate than most of what you see on the tube). Anyways, you can read about this here in full, it might bother you though as all cynical abuses of state power rightfully should.

Speaking of cynical abuses of power, it seems that the Korean negotiators have made even more concessions at the negotiation, basically opening the way for Chapter 11 NAFTA style lawsuits against local governments in key areas such as services and environmental protection, etc, if they cause a profit loss. The implications of this are staggering, and will probably result in a large transfer of wealth from the public to the private sphere. But that's what the negotiators seem to what, national origins aside. Here a more detailed review of the concessions here.

3. Finally, since this year is the 20th anniversary of the June 1987 Democratic Uprising, the Hankyoreh has been running a series of profiles of 80s activists (or the 386 generation as they are sometimes called) and where they are now 20 years later. I've read the first few profiles and enjoyed them, gives you a sense of the right social history here and the continuing legacy of that era. Here's the link to the first in that series, there are two more up on the main page.

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