World Politics

Korea: Stop Arrests of Trade Union Leaders

This appeal was sent out by LabourStart alerting us to severe human rights violations inflicted upon Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) leaders by the South Korean government for calling for a general strike. Eric Lee, of LabourStart, in an email appeal he sent out stated, “The ‘crime’ these trade union leaders are accused of committing is this: in early July, they called for a general strike. The South Korean government, in defiance of universally recognized human rights standards—including the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions—has decided that this strike was illegal. The KCTU has asked us all to take a moment and send off a strong message of protest to the South Korean government. LabourStart has launched a major new online campaign to do precisely that.” [See links below.]

In the name of labor solidarity and with the knowledge that an injury to one is an injury to all, we encourage everyone to register their protest of the treatment of the KCTU workers by the South Korean government.

—The Editors, Socialist Viewpoint

Following a massive wave of protests and demonstrations, on 24 July the South Korean government issued arrest warrants for top leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) including Lee Suk-haeng (President) and Lee Yong-shik (General Secretary). Ms. Jin Young-ok, First Vice-President of the KCTU has been arrested and detained.

The police surrounded the building where the main office of the KCTU is located, ready to move in and arrest the leaders. Arrest warrants have also been issued for other union leaders (see list below).

This anti-union repression threatens to return Korea to the dark days of the military dictatorship, which ended two decades ago. Korean trade unionists are asking for a huge international campaign to pressure their government to respect human rights.

List of other trade union leaders for whom arrest warrants have been issued:

Jung Gab-deuk, President, Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU)

Nam Taek-gyu, First Vice-president, KMWU

Yoon Hae-mo, President, Hyundai Motor Branch

Kim Tae-gon, First Vice-president, Hyundai Motor Branch

Kim Jong-il, Vice-president, Hyundai Motor Branch

Jung Chang-bong, Vice-president, Hyundai Motor Branch

Joo In-koo, Vice-president, Hyundai Motor Branch

Jo Chang-min, Secretary, Hyundai Motor Branch

Act NOW! Register your protest here:

If you are on Facebook, sign the new Cause we’ve created, here:, July 24, 2008