South Korea

South Korean Kia workers approve new contract after union isolates auto struggles

By Ben McGrath, 31 December 2020

The auto companies have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to deepen their attacks on the working class.

COVID-19 cases skyrocket in South Korea and Japan

By Ben McGrath, 29 December 2020

As in countries around the world, the inadequate responses of Tokyo and Seoul to the pandemic have been driven by concerns for big business.

GM Korea workers narrowly approve new contract

By Ben McGrath, 19 December 2020

The new contract maintains a wage freeze with no commitment from the company to maintain production in South Korea for the long term.

Kia auto workers in South Korea launch week-long strike action

By Ben McGrath, 17 December 2020

Kia workers are attempting defend themselves against increased attacks by management, which is collaborating with the unions to impose wage freezes and sellout agreements.

South Korean Kia workers strike again as GM and union push vote on rejected contract

By Ben McGrath, 14 December 2020

The autoworkers’ struggles are continuing even though the Korean Metal Workers Union has isolated the negotiations and strikes at the three major auto companies.

“They are not alone in this”

US autoworkers speak in support of strikes in South Korea and India

By Shannon Jones, 9 December 2020

US autoworkers have extended support to fellow workers at Kia and General Motors in South Korea and Toyota workers in India who are facing increasing threats as they fight for decent pay and working conditions.

Strikes by Kia and GM workers continue in South Korea

By Peter Symonds, 2 December 2020

The strikes are part of far broader discontent, anger and unrest among auto workers internationally over job losses, deteriorating conditions and the health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week in history: November 30-December 6

30 November 2020

75 years ago: General Douglas MacArthur, the effective leader of US-occupied Japan, ordered the arrest of former Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe and eight of the country’s other civilian and military leaders for war crimes, setting the stage for criminal prosecutions.

Re-release of Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003): A picture of South Korean society

By David Walsh, 14 November 2020

An early film by South Korean writer-director Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) has been released over the course of the past year in a number of countries—and now in the US. It is well worth seeing.

Hyundai union enforces wage freeze in latest South Korean sellout

By Ben McGrath, 29 September 2020

The Hyundai contract is part of a growing assault on auto workers by big business with the aid of the trade unions.

India: Petrol refinery and agricultural marketing workers strike against privatisation; Pakistani government workers strike against pay freeze

Workers Struggles: Asia and Australia

12 September 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

COVID-19 cases spike in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 3 September 2020

The sharp growth in new infections is a result of the government’s indifference and its demand that workers stay on the job.

Thousands of workers strike at Indian arms factories; Indonesian police attack paper mill workers; South Korean doctors continue strike

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

29 August 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

Indian social health workers hold two-day national strike; South Korean hospital doctors walkout

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

15 August 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

COVID-19 danger persists in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 3 July 2020

The inability of Seoul to fully address the pandemic is a result of keeping workers on the job and businesses open.

North Korea blows up liaison office to send message to Trump

By Peter Symonds, 17 June 2020

While nominally directed at Seoul, Pyongyang’s action expressed its deep frustration with the failure of the Trump administration to conduct any meaningful negotiations.

Coronavirus cases surpass six million globally

By Bryan Dyne, 30 May 2020

New epicenters in Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent are rapidly causing massive public health crises.

Devastating fire in South Korea kills at least 38 workers

By Ben McGrath, 4 May 2020

The government and big business will do nothing to address safety and the working conditions that led to this latest disaster.

South Korea’s Democratic Party wins general election in landslide

By Ben McGrath, 17 April 2020

The supposed success of the government’s response to COVID-19 benefited the Democratic Party, but the attacks on the working class will grow as the economy declines.

South Korea to hold general election

By Ben McGrath, 13 April 2020

This week’s election is seen as a barometer of the public’s feelings towards the government’s COVID-19 response and the declining economy.

Big business in South Korea exploits pandemic to carry out massive assault on jobs

By Ben McGrath, 28 March 2020

The trade unions are aiding the government and corporations use the health crisis to implement deeper attacks on the working class.

Risk of wider outbreak of COVID-19 remains high in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 24 March 2020

Workers are being kept on the job, exposing themselves and their communities to greater risks.

Working class in South Korea bears brunt of Covid-19 outbreak

By Ben McGrath, 29 February 2020

The majority of the cases of infection have been in Daegu, but the virus could rapidly spread in the country’s other densely populated cities.

South Korea deploys naval unit to Strait of Hormuz

By Ben McGrath, 1 February 2020

Behind the backs of the South Korean working class, Seoul is supporting US war plans that could lead to a wider conflict with China and Russia.

Mumbai hospital workers demand outstanding wages; South Korean car workers strike; Australian tram drivers vote to walk out

Workers Struggles: Asia and Australia

18 January 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

South Korea extends military intelligence sharing agreement with Japan

By Ben McGrath, 25 November 2019

The US exerted a great deal of pressure on Seoul to ensure the tensions between South Korea and Japan do not affect Washington’s war drive against China.

Parasite: An unusual director with his antenna attuned to social class

The Lighthouse: A gothic horror film

By Joanne Laurier, 16 November 2019

Parasite is a dark comedy from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho that concerns itself with income inequality and its implications. The Lighthouse is a pointless horror film set in the late 1800s in New England.

Indian Honda contract workers still on strike; West Bengal teachers demand pay rise; maintenance workers take industrial action at Australian paper mill

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and New Zealand

16 November 2019

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

South Korean autoworkers join global fight against GM

By Ben McGrath, 26 September 2019

Workers in South Korea, the United States, and around the world face the same fight against GM and other corporations.

South Korean autoworkers join global fight against GM

By Ben McGrath, 26 September 2019

Workers in South Korea, the United States, and around the world face the same fight against GM and other corporations.

As contract deadline looms in US, 8,000 GM autoworkers strike in South Korea

By James Cogan, 10 September 2019

The issues over which the Korean workers are striking are ones that their American co-workers will readily identify with.

US alarmed over end to South Korea-Japan intelligence sharing

By Peter Symonds, 30 August 2019

Seoul’s decision to withdraw from a key intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo is part of the deepening rift between Washington’s two military allies in North East Asia over economic and strategic issues.

Japan-South Korea conflict intensifies

By Nick Beams, 17 August 2019

South Korea announced this week that it has removed Japan from a list of countries that qualify for accelerated supply of South Korean products, after Japan had imposed a similar measure against South Korea on August 2.

South Korean public sector workers strike over irregular employment status

By Ben McGrath, 4 July 2019

As with other strikes, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions is maneuvering to isolate workers.

Union sabotaging South Korean shipbuilding workers’ strike

By Ben McGrath, 10 June 2019

The Korean Metal Workers Union is incapable of defending workers whose positions are being slashed as part of a global assault on jobs.

South Korean shipbuilding workers oppose massive job cuts

By Ben McGrath, 3 June 2019

The Korean Metal Workers Union has deliberately limited industrial action and isolated the shipyard workers to prevent a broader struggle against capitalist exploitation.

US seizes North Korean ship

By Mike Head, 10 May 2019

This week’s developments demonstrate that the Trump administration has no intention of striking a deal with Pyongyang unless it involves a total capitulation and embrace of Washington’s offensive against China.

South Korean auto manufacturers stepping up assault on wages, working conditions

By Ben McGrath, 30 April 2019

South Korea’s labor unions have worked to ensure workers remain isolated as wages and benefits are slashed throughout the industry.

Hyundai, Kia workers strike in South Korea in opposition to attacks on wages

By Ben McGrath, 12 December 2018

The imposition of a new tier of low-paid workers in Gwangju is just the precursor to broader attacks on workers’ conditions.

US-South Korean tensions over stance towards North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 28 November 2018

US ultimatums to Pyongyang to denuclearise are threatening South Korean efforts to reduce tensions and engage with North Korea.

Fire at workers’ apartment in South Korea leaves seven dead

By Ben McGrath, 12 November 2018

Public safety continues to be ignored under the South Korean administration no less than under previous conservative governments.

Korean summit yields new agreement, but few tangible results

By Ben McGrath, 20 September 2018

Regardless of the immediate results of the talks in Pyongyang, the deal does not address the underlying regional tensions fueled by the US war drive against China.

South Korean president in Pyongyang for summit on denuclearization

By Ben McGrath, 18 September 2018

Whatever the result of this week’s talks, it will do nothing to resolve the dangerous tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

Seoul and Pyongyang prepare for September summit while US intensifies campaign against North Korea

By Ben McGrath, 17 August 2018

Washington will only accept the complete subjugation of the North as it continues to raise tensions in the region with China.

South Korean government begins phony reform of military intelligence agency

By Ben McGrath, 11 August 2018

The basic framework of a police state will remain in place regardless of the cosmetic changes made by Moon Jae-in’s administration.

Leaked report reveals plans for martial law in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 23 July 2018

The muted response to a secret military blueprint demonstrates that no faction within the country’s capitalist class defends even basic democratic rights.

Trump offers North Korea “incremental” denuclearisation ahead of planned summit

By James Cogan, 23 May 2018

Trump and the South Korean president both exuded optimism that talks would ultimately proceed on US terms, even if not on June 12.

US blames China for renewed tensions with North Korea

By James Cogan, 18 May 2018

Citing the “Libyan model,” Trump implied that North Korea would face “total decimation” if no agreement is reached.

North Korea denounces US “provocation” and threatens to cancel talks with Trump

By James Cogan, 16 May 2018

The Trump administration has, to a great extent, boxed both itself and North Korea into a corner.

Union sellout facilitates South Korean General Motors restructuring plans

By Ben McGrath, 16 May 2018

The KMWU isolated workers and forced through the approval of an agreement enabling a pro-business restructuring by the auto corporation.

Overtures continue ahead of Trump-North Korea summit

By James Cogan, 14 May 2018

Secretary of State Pompeo indicated that the US objective is to bring the North Korean regime within its sphere of influence.

Japan, China and South Korea hold talks on North Korea and trade

By Ben McGrath, 11 May 2018

While North Korea dominated the summit, concerns over US protectionist measures may result in improved relations between the three Asian neighbors.

North Korea releases American prisoners ahead of summit with Trump

By James Cogan, 10 May 2018

Trump hailed the release as another step forward in his administration’s push to bring North Korea under US influence.

Trump to meet North Korean leader in “three or four weeks”

By James Cogan, 30 April 2018

Any talks could entirely break down over the definition of “denuclearisation” and a “nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

North and South Korea hold “peace” summit

By James Cogan, 27 April 2018

Any concrete development toward a rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula on US-dictated terms will be viewed with immense concern in Beijing.

US and North Korean officials discuss Trump-Kim summit

By Peter Symonds, 14 April 2018

The cynical character of Trump’s decision to meet with Kim Jong-un is underscored by the fact that two militarists—Pompeo and Bolton—are in charge of preparing the summit.

Ex-South Korean President Park sentenced to 24 years jail

By Ben McGrath, 12 April 2018

The government is using an anti-corruption campaign to divert attention from the real causes of the country’s worsening social crisis.

US and South Korea hold war games ahead of talks

By Peter Symonds, 7 April 2018

While scaled back, the joint exercises still involve 300,000 troops and advanced weaponry amid continuing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo wary of dialogue with North Korea

By Ben McGrath, 2 April 2018

An agreement between the US and North Korea, while highly unlikely, would undermine Japan’s pretext for remilitarization to prosecute its imperialist interests.

Thousands to be sacked at GM factory in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 15 February 2018

General Motors is demanding additional cuts to auto workers’ wages and conditions as it threatens to pull out of South Korea entirely.

Talks between North and South Korea to proceed

By Peter Symonds, 6 January 2018

The meeting will take place under conditions of extreme tension as a result of the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure” to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

North and South Korea propose to hold talks

By Peter Symonds, 3 January 2018

The proposal came amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula after bellicose US threats and crippling sanctions against North Korea.

Tensions between South Korea and Japan reemerge over “comfort women”

By Ben McGrath, 3 January 2018

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea and its predecessors have long used anti-Japanese sentiment to distract the public from their anti-working class policies.

US president accuses China of illegal oil transfer to North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 30 December 2017

Trump’s tweet declaring Beijing was “caught RED HANDED” smacks of a contrived provocation aimed at ramping up tensions with China and North Korea.

South Korea’s deadliest fire in a decade leaves 29 dead

By Ben McGrath, 27 December 2017

The tragedy highlights the ruling elite’s utter disregard for safety and public planning in the quest for profits.

South Korean and Chinese leaders meet over North Korea, economic ties

By Ben McGrath, 21 December 2017

The summit between the two presidents will do nothing to alleviate the growing danger of war in Northeast Asia.

Trump’s Asia tour leaves region on brink of trade war and military conflict

By James Cogan, 15 November 2017

President Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, on both North Korea and trade, cannot obscure the fact that his trip marks a new nadir in the strategic position of US imperialism.

In Seoul, Trump delivers war ultimatum to North Korea

By James Cogan, 8 November 2017

The casualties and horrors of a second Korean War, in 2017, could make those of nearly 70 years ago pale in comparison.

Surrounded by generals, Trump remarks on “the calm before the storm”

By Peter Symonds, 7 October 2017

Trump’s menacing comment—almost certainly directed against North Korea—is another warning that the US is on the brink of launching a catastrophic war.

Australian Labor leaders endorse Trump’s war drive against North Korea

By Mike Head, 28 September 2017

Labor leader Shorten in effect gave a pledge that a Labor government would continue Australia’s unconditional support for Washington in any war with North Korea.

South Korea backs Trump’s threats to “totally destroy” North Korea

By Ben McGrath, 26 September 2017

The Moon Jae-in administration in Seoul is deepening its military cooperation with the US while continuing to posture as an advocate of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea assassination squad to target Pyongyang leadership

By Ben McGrath, 18 September 2017

This “decapitation squad” is part of a broader plan for preemptive war against North Korea that would have devastating consequences for the region.

UN Security Council imposes severe sanctions on North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 12 September 2017

Far from easing tensions in North East Asia, the UN resolution sets the stage for further US provocations and heightens the danger of military conflict.

US completes anti-missile deployment in South Korea amid heightened war danger

By Ben McGrath, 8 September 2017

Under pressure from Washington, South Korean President Moon has moved away from his previous calls for dialogue with North Korea and toward increasingly hawkish positions.

US pushes ahead with provocative war games in South Korea

By Peter Symonds, 21 August 2017

By proceeding with the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises, the US is once again deliberately inflaming its confrontation with North Korea.

Tensions overshadow US, South Korea trade negotiations

By Ben McGrath, 9 August 2017

The Trump administration is using the demand for a new FTA to pressure Seoul to toe Washington’s line on China and North Korea.

GM Korea autoworkers vote to strike

By Ben McGrath, 14 July 2017

While autoworkers are determined to improve their wages and conditions, the unions, which are tied to the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), have no intention of conducting a genuine struggle.

South Korean president aligns with US war plans against North Korea

By Ben McGrath, 3 July 2017

With his election out of the way, President Moon sought to reassure Washington that he remained committed to the military alliance.

South Korean president tries to smooth disagreements with Washington

By Ben McGrath, 22 June 2017

Seoul has suggested reaching out to Pyongyang as the US ramps up pressure on North Korea.

South Korean president offers phony welfare pledges

By Ben McGrath, 20 June 2017

The new government’s promises are a smokescreen to obscure its pro-capitalist policies, counter mounting discontent and prevent the eruption of social unrest.

South Korea delays THAAD battery installation

By Ben McGrath, 13 June 2017

Washington is concerned that the new government in Seoul is pursuing closer relations with China.

US anti-missile test sends warning to North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 31 May 2017

The successful interception of a dummy ICBM demonstrates to North Korea and also China that the US can launch a nuclear attack and counter any attempt to retaliate.

US, South Korea emphasise alliance after North Korean missile test

By Ben McGrath, 15 May 2017

Concerns persist in Washington that the new Moon administration in Seoul could undermine attempts to pressure Pyongyang.

As war tensions continue, signs emerge of talks with North Korea

By Peter Symonds, 11 May 2017

The Trump administration appears to be giving China a short window of opportunity to bully North Korea into accepting US demands.

Democrat Moon Jae-in wins South Korean presidential election

By Ben McGrath, 10 May 2017

Backed by sections of the ruling class, Moon’s election is aimed at defusing widespread concern over social inequality and war, and blocking any movement against the profit system.

South Korean presidential frontrunner stresses agreement with Trump

By Ben McGrath, 8 May 2017

On the eve of South Korea’s election, DPK candidate Moon Jae-in is attempting to placate fears in Washington that he will cut across war plans in the region.

South Korean election candidates back US war preparations

By Ben McGrath, 2 May 2017

Widespread opposition to the THAAD antiballistic missile battery and the drive to war can find no expression in the presidential contest.

US warns of “catastrophic consequences” if North Korea is not brought to heel

By Peter Symonds, 29 April 2017

Tillerson’s speech to the UN is, in effect, an ultimatum to the world: the only way to avoid war is to accept US diktats and compel North Korea to capitulate.

South Korean presidential candidates move further to the right on North Korea

By Ben McGrath, 26 April 2017

Moon Jae-in of the DPK has sought to prove his pro-US credentials by calling for an additional military buildup.

Tense standoff continues on Korean peninsula

By Peter Symonds, 22 April 2017

The media is fueling tensions with speculation that North Korea could conduct a nuclear or missile test to mark its Military Foundation Day next Tuesday.

US threats of war against North Korea continue

By Peter Symonds, 17 April 2017

The Trump administration is continuing to warn that military force could be used in response to any nuclear or missile test by Pyongyang.

China appeals to US to back down from war with North Korea

By James Cogan, 15 April 2017

Amid media claims that North Korea is on the verge of another weapons test, the US military is continuing its provocative operations in North East Asia.

South Korean presidential candidates line up behind US war drive

By Ben McGrath, 12 April 2017

As tensions with North Korea rise, the leading “democratic” contenders, Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo, have taken a pro-militarist and pro-US stance.

After Park’s ouster, South Korean pseudo-left orients to pro-US opposition

By Ben McGrath, 4 April 2017

The state-capitalist Workers’ Solidarity group is backing the campaign to install a new president favorable to the US war drive against China.

Former South Korean president arrested

By Ben McGrath, 3 April 2017

In the wake of Park’s impeachment and arrest, political parties are jockeying for the May 9 presidential election.

China warns US strategic bomber in East China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 25 March 2017

The war plane was one of two B-1Bs deployed from Guam to join massive war games underway in South Korea amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Constitutional Court removes South Korean President Park from office

By Ben McGrath, 11 March 2017

While millions will welcome Park’s removal, her rivals in the ruling elite are just as hostile to popular sentiment for social equality and against the war drive in Asia.

US rejects talks over North Korea, declaring “all options on table”

By Peter Symonds, 9 March 2017

China’s foreign minister warned that the US and North Korea are like “accelerating trains” on a collision course “with neither side willing to give way.”

Court hears final arguments in South Korean president’s trial

By Ben McGrath, 6 March 2017

Park’s impeachment is a sign of the struggle within the political establishment over how to balance between the US and China amid sharpening tensions between the two powers.

US, South Korea mount massive joint military exercises

By Peter Symonds, 2 March 2017

This year’s war games take place amid an already tense stand-off with North Korea over its nuclear and missile testing and alleged assassination of Kim Jong-nam.