North and South Korea

Korea: fragile peace moves


Simon Nelson

The Panmunjom declaration was signed by North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on 27 April.

It commits North Korea to complete denuclearisation and an end to war on the Korean peninsula, creating a “new era of peace.” Similar words were said at summits in both 2000 and 2007.

Symbolically, both countries agreed to stop propaganda broadcasts across the demilitarised zone and to end leaflet drops. This all comes just a few months from North Korean missile tests and Donald Trump saying he would use “fire and fury” in response.

Korean tensions fuel reaction


Michael Elms

Renewed UN sanctions have not been able to break the deadlock on North Korea.

As Kim and Trump flirt with war, the tensions on the Korean peninsula are fuelling reactionary politics across the region, and live-fire American-South Korean military exercises and repeated North Korean missile launches and nuclear tests.

North Korea plays a deadly game


By Micheal Elms

The criminal game of brinkmanship being played between the rulers of the big capitalist powers and the Stalinist monarchy of North Korea continues to menace millions of innocent people with the threat of nuclear war.

On 28 August, North Korea’s rulers fired a missile over Japan; a week later, they tested what they said was a hydrogen bomb, proving that they are now well on the way to developing a nuclear arsenal capable of hitting the mainland United States.

Against Trump, against Kim — solidarity with North Korean workers!


Michael Elms

Tensions on the Korean peninsula are increasing, confronting millions of innocent people with the threat of nuclear war. The tensions spring from a combination of the ramping up of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, and US President Donald Trump’s “Wall Street” approach to international diplomacy.

Trump targets North Korea


Gerry Bates

On 4 April, the Syrian government used chemical weapons on civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria. On the morning of 7 April, Donald Trump’s government responded with a cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase which the US military believes was used to launch the chemical attack. Trump has also sent a navy battle group to the waters off the Korean coast.

Changing through struggle


Bruce Robinson

Sun-Hee works as a cashier in a large supermarket in a South Korean town. She is just about managing, working unpaid overtime she hopes will earn her the permanent position she has been promised which would enable her to satisfy some of her children’s wants. Shy and passive, she watches as a colleague, Hye-mi, is humiliated by being forced to apologise on her knees to a customer.

Container line goes bust

On 31 August,the South Korean container shipping company Hanjin, the world’s seventh-biggest, declared bankruptcy.

The results are more dramatic than with most bankruptcies: vessels are trapped in ports, cargoes are being seized by creditors, South Korean exporters have their goods held up and are scrambling for new carriers (Hanjing carried 40% of Samsung exports and 20% of LG).

South Korea: Labour and youth protests


Nolan Grunska

On Saturday 14 November, protestors took to the streets of Seoul for the largest demonstration in at least seven years.

Estimates of the number of protestors present range from 60,000 to 130,000, with over 500 injured by water cannons, liquified tear gas, and pepper spray, 51 detained by police, and one demonstrator, farmer Paek Nam-ki, left in critical condition. Protesters were also sprayed with blue paint, so they could be identified for later arrest.

New centres of capital


Rhodri Evans

As of 2014, “developing Asia” — China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other countries — became a bigger exporter of foreign direct investment than North America (the US and Canada) or the whole of Europe.

The United Nations agency which monitors such things, UNCTAD, reports that “developing economies” produced 36% of all foreign direct investment in 2014, up from less than 10% as recently as 2003 (UNCTAD World Investment Report 2015).

Support Gahyun Lee!

Gahyun Lee was dismissed from her job at a McDonald’s outlet in Yeokgok, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea following her visit to Los Angeles earlier that month to support the national action by US fast food workers.

Management had previously warned her about union activity in May — citing a phone call from the head office — after she denounced wage and scheduling manipulation and unsafe workplace practices at a May 15 Seoul rally in support of global fast food workers.

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