Jul. 19  2024
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A new attempt for suicide as a direct result of massive oppression against the trade union movement in South Korea

October 22, short before 9 pm Lee Hae-nam, the president of Sewon Tech Metal Worker Union in Daegu set him self on fire. With this action he tried to protest against the oppression on the union in Sewon Tech Co by the management.

Source  :  BASE21

by Christian / Base21 Media Activists

Before yesterday, October 22, members of ETU-MB (Equality Trade Union ?Migrants?Branch) from Seoul joined in South Korea뭩 coastal town Busan the mourning demonstration in for Kim Joo-ik, who killed him self on October 17 (see also the article 밃nother worker driven to his death in Korea?.

A day later, back in Seoul, during a meeting of ETU-MB뭩 Emergency Struggle Committee, they got the information that another worker attempted to take his own life. This was the third suicide or attempt in less than three month carried out by South Korean worker뭩 and farmer뭩 (see also our article 밅ancun WTO Summit: A New Victim of Capitalism? unionists.

October 22, short before 9 pm Lee Hae-nam, the president of Sewon Tech Metal Worker Union in Daegu set him self on fire. With this action he tried to protest against the oppression on the union in Sewon Tech Co by the management.

The antecedents: In October 2001 workers in Sewon Co founded the Metal Union (Sewon Metal Union/SMU) under the umbrella of KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions). Until December 2001 the owner Kim Moon-ki and the management tried to ignore the new founded union but the union developed several activities and organized more and more colleagues in the union.

During December 2001 the management started to hire criminal gangs to terrorize the unionists in Sewon Co. Sewon and other branches of the Metal Union in the Jungnam region reacted with strike until short while later the management of Sewon Co accepted negotiations with the Metal Union and recognized SMU. This struggle, for South Korean Trade Unions was a good example for solidarity.

But short time later the management broke the agreements and SMU, again, went on strike ?a legal one, because of management뭩 violation of the agreement. Sewon Co management tried to divide the organized and non-organized workers.

In July 2002 unionized workers of Sewon Co occupied the factory in Jungnam, seven days later the police cleared up the factory and a while later all workers were dismissed, the factory was closed and the production put out into other factories of Sewon Co in South Korea.

In August 2002 unionists tried to enter the factory again, but hired gangs, armed with iron bars hit the back wounding some of the workers and injured one ?Lee Hyeon-jung - very seriously.

In October 12 in 2002 it came again to negotiations and both sides ?the management and the SMU reached an agreement to begin the work on November 1.

Meanwhile the injured colleague still remained in hospital on the intensive care unit. In August 26 2003 he died there in the consequences of his seriously injuries.

SMU demanded from Sewon Co management to assume the full responsibility for the death of Kim Hyeon-jung - what they complete ignored. So in reaction of this behavior, SMU started a sit-in strike in front of Daegu뭩 head quarter of Sewon Co. In the beginning of September riot cops stormed the area and arrested all protesters including family members of deceased Kim Hyeon-jung, but also supporters outside of the area of the sit-in strike. Police started to hunt organizers and leaders of the protest, now hiding somewhere in the underground.

In October Kim Hyeon-jung뭩 brother in law tried in protest of repression against SMU to set him self on fire but 뱋nly?injured him self seriously.

After releasing from prison members of SMU continued the sit-in struggle in front of Sewon Co Daegu뭩 head quarter. After October 17, the day when Kim Joo-ik jumped from the crane in Busan, Lee Hae-nam, president of SMU, also hiding in underground, decided that 밿t뭩 now my turn? he wrote in an article in the Internet. On October 23, some hours before he tried to kill him self, his sit-in striking comrades found the article in the Internet and foresaw what will follow. They searched for him, but couldn뭪 find him, because he already went though the back entrance into Sewon뭩 head quarter at set him self on fire in front of managements main office.

In a letter, later found on his seriously damaged body, it was written, that he felt very sorry for his family and comrades, but he felt so helpless, especially after the death of his comrade Kim Hyeon-jung and he thought the only signal of alarm for the public opinion but also for to push the union he could set, was to commit suicide.

The day after ETU-MB뭩 Emergency Struggle Committee got the information about this tragic incident, a member of KCTU뭩 Seoul Regional Council said: 밫oday is a very bad day for the union, but we뭭e to do everything to turn our sorrow into productive rage?

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