News on Korea
Sept. 2, 1945 two weeks after Korea’s independence from Japan, the US Military’s General Order Number One officially divided Korea. Then, the division was cemented by war. Since then, Korea’s democracy and self-determination have been thrown off. To regain our self-determination, to shake off the chains on our democracy, we need reunification.
Korea’s sexual minority movement fights to change Korean society. For now, the Queer Culture Festival and Parade exist as a holiday from everyday Korean society. My friend recalls, “The day I look most forward to each year is the parade. I am getting emotional just thinking about it. It’s so satisfying following the floats while screaming at the top of my lungs in public. I can scream myself to the world.”
The Korean war would not have occurred and continued for nearly 70 years were it not for U.S. intervention. As was the fate of many Third World countries, the Korean War was less a civil war like in the U.S. and more a proxy one like in Vietnam. The U.S. northern Union and southern Confederate states fought driven by distinct identities and politico-economic interests developed over a hundred years.
Thousands of Filipinos marched to protest when President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation address at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, the home of the national legislature, on July 24. In order to remember those who could no longer march, the Block Marcos movement created a protest art installation, laying out over a thousand slippers and shoes on the road to the complex.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional trade deal being negotiated among 16 countries across Asia-Pacific. If adopted, RCEP will cover half the world’s population, including 420 million small family farms that produce 80% of the region’s food. RCEP is expected to create powerful new rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment. Several RCEP countries are also part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another mega-regional agreement setting some of the most pro-big business terms seen in trade and investment deals so far. While the fate of the TPP is uncertain, these two agreements may have to co-exist and there is pressure to align them on numerous points. What will this mean for food and farmers in the region?
Over the last 30 years, people’s responses to the economic, social, and political impacts of capitalist globalisation have included inspiring examples of collective organising, strong social movements and radical progressive thinking. These include critical uprisings against so-called free trade and investment agreements, including the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico, rejecting the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Across the world, people facing similar initiatives in other countries organised and mobilised to try to stop these deals flat in their tracks.
On Aug. 15th, at Seoul’s Square I participated in “Restoring Sovereignty and Realizing Peace in the Korean Peninsula: 8.15 People’s Peace Action” held in City Hall Square at the 72th Independence Day in Korea. Rain poured from morning until afternoon. Yet, 10,000 people - workers, farmers, women, the poor, students - filled the square. After the candlelight revolution brought down the conservative President Park Geun-hye, I had expected the event would be a celebration of the positive changes in inter-Korean relations and moving towards reunification.
It is our duty, as a progressive force, to move towards a better world by supporting the Maduro administration that has worked to keep democracy in Venezuela by forming the constituent assembly and defending the Bolivarian revolutionary force. Thus, we will stand with Venezuela to support the constituent assembly and spread the truth about Venezuela.
For many years, the International Strategy Center has been building solidarity by visiting sites of struggle and informing the world about them. This year, we are starting the Uncovering Alternatives project to go beyond resistance and towards building “another world” by exploring Korea’s experiments and alternatives and sharing them with those in Korea and abroad.