Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"corean monsoon rain"

so fresh and cools the soul
washing clean the leaves of the trees blossoming from the mountain side as people implore...
"when will it end? it has been raining for days to weeks non stop"
but there is something so pure and beautiful... as mother nature cleanses herself with her teardrops
so soothing the sounds of the dripplets dropping and the droplets dripping
on the trees and rooftops as they coexist on a mountain side
i admire the beauty as i make my way up my street which is at a 45 degree angle.. out of breath i sigh
holding groceries from the local corner market store in my hands, sweat dripping from my nose
the rain dripping from my clothes
streams flowing from the green hills past my door
making rivers out of the grooves in the asphalt floor
i make my way inside to enjoy an icecream bar i bought because of my loyalty to my favourite treats reminicent from my early childhood
mmmm so good...
but soon enough i find myself going outside again,
just to stand and admire the beauty of the corean monsoon rain...."
facebook group: the real sun

p.s. GREETINGS! ah my first blog. ever. ^.^ I wrote this piece on July 26 but hadn't figured out this blog thinger majiger yet. for a good week or so the rain came, non stop. literally. but now it's stopping slowly. taking tea breaks as i imagine the clouds to be doing. haha. but all jokes aside, Michelle and I (stand up TORONTOO!!) are here now in Corea and yesterday we met up with Wol-San (of Migrant Trade Workers Union aka MTU) and Sukjong (KEEP Coordinator extrodinaire) at a hunger strike that was going into its 50th day. A company by the name of 기륭전자 (Ki-Rung-Jun-Ja) laid off their female factory workers just before their two year mark working at the factory. because at two years, by law, they then become regular workers and are no longer irregular workers (which cost the company more money). So they were all laid off, with (from my undrstanding,) the intention to re-hire them back as irregular workers robbing them of regular worker status. They have now been on strike over this issue for 3 years. And two of these women started a hunger strike 50 days ago. They have still not eaten. Their lives are really now at risk. Yesterday they took up a coffin to lay on the rooftop where these women are spending their (hopefully not their last) days. our camp was allowed to meet and speak to the women. Despite their struggles, they looked well spirited. Their eyes glowed with hope and their energies and expressions communicated that they were at ease with what they were doing. As if they were comforted, protected, and honoured by their uncowardly and strong commitment to the struggle. Unfortunately this issue is not getting much attention due to the stuggles and demonstrations in Seoul over the U.S. beef import issue... there will be more updates to come. in the meantime, for articles in Corean check: and

peace love unity

Friday, July 25, 2008

율동 in the rain! E-land women workers' struggle

In the shadow of the World Cup Stadium, Seoul, irregular women workers of the Homever store have set up a tent where they sleep every night, and every Friday, they hold a cultural rally that calls attention to their unjust firing. They are right there, unavoidable, for all the shoppers that emerge out of the subway exit.

The issue of irregular workers in Korea and the timeline of these women workers' struggle with the multinational e-land are very well summed-up in this series of articles (Riot police and young mothers face to face in Seoul, Asian Human Rights Commission )

Source: UNI Commerce Global Union

Immediate ironies: 1. The Homever store, branding itself as 'Sweet home forever' while firing single moms and lower-income workers so that they can't get benefits under the law- so 'home' is essentially a brand, but only consumable by the middle and upper class...

2. The World Cup stadium where Homever is located, formerly the stage of crazy nationalist-soccer fever in 2002, now a mall full of part-time contracted workers who have no benefits -
As it poured, student groups and union groups came out and performed 율동 to movement songs like 얼굴 찌프리지 말아요, smiling. In some ways, the rain transformed the event because everyone performing was vulnerable to it, and yet, soaked, it seemed to make people's spirits lift higher. Imagine it: a car pointing its headlights at a tent, lighting up the faces of students and union leaders singing, dancing, acting... I had gone to arrange the meeting for KEEP, and found myself staying until the end,

The tent where the striking workers sleep, next to the store...

KEEP 2008 makes its big debut at the Friday cultural rally in a few weeks--

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flashbacks to the past

This is Lee Myung Bak with a 'mad' cow (note the dark rings around the eye) riding a time machine - and they've skidded into the '80s. And even the cow, the mad cow, is saying, exasperated : 'Aigo (untranslateable- maybe- Oh dear)- look, we've gone too far into the past.'

What happened in Korea in the '80s? Starting with the long-hidden civilian massacre at Kwangju in May 1980 by state paratroopers and US approval, followed by years of repression, arrests, and a fearsome police state during the Chun Doo Hwan regime, the background of the cartoon shows it right: masses of people gathered together, and the riot cops running after them, but also, the feeling of being on the horizon of something new and unprecedented...

I think the sheer scale of the vigils and the violence of the state response is astonishing to see but not totally unprecedented; It IS reminiscent of the June '87 uprising; the student and worker demonstrations turned 'necktie' revolution, when anyone and their mother walked into the street to call for democratization and an end to military dictatorship-

The indelible image of tens of thousands of people gathered in Seoul to protest the US beef import and Lee Myung Bak's neoliberal yes-man persona is not something that can be blamed away, and yet the government has been targeting certain groups as masterminding the vigils.

So along with arresting or drafting arrest warrants for individuals of certain organizations and even those who WRITE about the arrest or the issue (link), JUST TONIGHT the police surrounded the building of KCTU- the major labor confederation of trade unions- with arrest warrants for its 3 top officials. The standoff is still ongoing... Link

And the parallels to the '80s keep on growing...