North and South Korea

Barbarism or barbarism?

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:42

Paul Cooper

The South Korean film Parasite, a satire of social and economic inequality, has made quite an impression on two major institutions of world cinema.

At the Cannes film festival it won the Palme d’Or, and then it won Best Film at the Oscars.

It is not difficult to satirise such things, especially when there is an appetite for such in the institutions and audiences of the bourgeoisie. These are feel-good films because they help maintain the myth that world cinema is in fine aesthetic and moral health.

In his previous works (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, and Okja) director Bong Joan-ho follows

Korea: fragile peace moves

Published on: Tue, 01/05/2018 - 21:20

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.

No previous North Korean

Korean tensions fuel reaction

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:46

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.

On 11 September, the UN rejected a harsher set of sanctions proposals from the US, instead adopting a ban on North Korean textile exports and capping oil sales to the country. While Trump has claimed that the oil cap is producing “long gas lines in North Korea”, commentators point

North Korea plays a deadly game

Published on: Tue, 12/09/2017 - 14:04

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.

The increased tensions are a result of two destabilising factors: a string of technical successes for North Korea’s engineers (or

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

Published on: Wed, 23/08/2017 - 12:34

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.

Andrew Gamble sums up Trump’s diplomatic style: “Trump’s experience was as a reality TV host… He approaches relations with other leaders with an eye on how it’s going to play with his base and how he can make himself look good. He uses bluff and does outrageous things partly in the belief that

Trump targets North Korea

Published on: Wed, 12/04/2017 - 12:33

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.

Trump’s actions carry a number of advantages for the US government beyond destroying the targets and intimidating Assad. By showing a willingness to use military force Trump ramps up pressure on North Korea

Changing through struggle

Published on: Wed, 30/11/2016 - 12:40

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.

Then all the non-permanent staff are sacked by text message as the company wants to outsource their jobs because, as one manager says, everybody’s doing it. The women meet secretly and set up a union. Sun-Hee

Container line goes bust

Published on: Wed, 07/09/2016 - 10:58

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).

This is the first large container line bankruptcy since United States Lines in 1986, which had built itself a new fleet on the basis of high fuel prices and was wrongfooted when oil prices sagged. The background is

South Korea: Labour and youth protests

Published on: Fri, 04/12/2015 - 13:34

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.

Paek was named as a “professional protester” by Choi Hyun-jun, president of Unification Future Alliance, who also alleged the protestors were

New centres of capital

Published on: Fri, 03/07/2015 - 15:30

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).

The shift is not a blip, or a sudden and temporary development due to economic difficulties in the USA and Europe. It is the latest step in a

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