Following President Lee Myungbak’s inauguration in February 2008, media workers criticised his policies on the press. The workers accused Lee of attempting to exert greater control over the media by handpicking the chair of the national broadcasting committee and YTN, a prominent television network in South Korea, and by pressuring the executive of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) to resign.
South Korean campaigners prevent government intention to weaken unions and facilitate lay-offs, 1997
President Kim Young Sam started his first attempt at changing labour laws in April, 1996. The government formed the Labour-Management Relations Reform committee composed of labour group leaders, management community, academics, and civic groups. It was the first attempt by the South Korean government to reform the country’s authoritarian labour relations, and labour unions were hopeful of structural changes that would guarantee their long-delayed rights.
South Koreans protest against the mishandling of the deaths of two Korean students caused by U.S. Army, 2002-2004
The U.S. Armed Forces had been stationed in South Korea since the end of Korean War in 1954. More than 26,000 soldiers resided in six camps. Heavily dependent on the U.S. military support, the Korean army had an symmetrical relationship with the U.S. The two countries agreed that the U.S. military would assume the Wartime Operational Control (WOC) until 2015. Moreover, the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) validated extraterritorial jurisdiction for the U.S. soldiers stationed in Korea.
The Dong Il Textile was one of the leading Korean companies whose products were exported to foreign countries during 1970s. At the time, the Korean economy was heavily dependent on the profits gained from exportation of low-industrial cheap products (mostly apparel and chemical products). Dong Il was deemed by the people to be one of those exemplary firms in this context, because it succeeded in “efficiently” producing cheap and mass textile products. Such “efficiency” was possible only because it exploited an abundant supply of cheap labor.
In the 1980’s and 90’s South Korea’s nuclear industry was growing, and the Korean environmental and anti-nuclear movement grew along with it. During the 1980’s, over fifty percent of the country’s electricity came from nuclear power, so that by the end of the decade, storage of the radioactive waste posed a formidable challenge as on-site storage facilities began to reach capacity.
In 2003, the government of South Korea announced a ban on beef imported from the United States. Prior to the ban, South Korea had been the third largest purchaser of U.S. beef product. The decision to ban the product came after an animal in Washington was discovered to suffer from mad-cow disease. All together, more than fifty countries decided to ban U.S. beef imports after the incident, and consequently, the value of U.S. beef exports declined by $2.4 billion dollars over a three-year period.
When the United States proposed an expansion of its military base in the Pyeongtaek region of South Korea in 2001, it threatened to be the third time that the people of the region were to be displaced from their land. The people who lived in Pyeongtaek, primarily farmers, were first evicted when the Japanese occupied the region in World War II. Then they were forcibly displaced a second time in 1952, when the United States built its military base, Camp Humphreys.