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Korean Americans Denounce US War Threats in Coordinated Protests

NOVANEWS

On August 14–ahead of the 72nd anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule–Korean Americans across the United States rallied to demand the U.S. government stop war provocations against North Korea and start talks towards peace. Korean Americans and other anti-war peace activists in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles held coordinated protest actions in their respective regions.

Following the impeachment of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the election of liberal Moon Jae-in, Korean people around the world had high hopes for the resumption of North-South engagement. Many had expected North, South, and overseas Koreans to come together for a joint conference in Pyongyang or Seoul on August 15 in commemoration of Korea’s liberation. Just as Korea’s liberation was cut short by the arrival of U.S. occupying troops in 1945, however, the prospect of peace on the peninsula is once again thwarted, this time by Trump’s threats of “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

In New York, Korean American and other progressive peace activists protested outside the UN headquarters to protest UN sanctions against North Korea and demand the U.S. stop war-provoking military exercises.

In Washington DC, Korean American activists gathered in front of the White House to call on the U.S. to take the path of peace talks over military action.

In Los Angeles, 15 different peace groups rallied in Koreatown with drumming and a liberation dance performance.

The coordinated actions also released a joint statement calling on the Trump administration to stop war provocations aimed at North Korea. The statement draws attention to the long history of U.S. war provocations in the form of economic sanctions and military exercises:

[The] on-going state of suspended war, in addition the decades of US-South Korea joint military exercises and threats of nuclear war have pushed North Korea to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)… We strongly urge the U.S. government to actively take the path toward dialogue and peace instead of continuing on the current path of sanctions and war.

More Calls for Peace

Other Korean American organizations issued statements denouncing the U.S. government’s war war threats in Korea. New York-based Nodutdol for Korean Community Development called on the U.S. to de-escalate and denounced the U.S. State Department’s recent ban preventing U.S. citizens from traveling to North Korea:

Such isolation — the end goal being regime collapse — is often put forth as the only possible option for dealing with a country the UN has described as guilty of crimes against humanity. But there are growing number of people, including diplomats and foreign policy experts, who say that US policy toward North Korea has simply not worked and that talks are the only way forward.

Read the full statement here.

The Korea Policy Institute (KPI) released an open letter on August 9, calling on Trump to start bilateral negotiations immediately:

The D.P.R.K.’s… offer of a freeze and the U.S. State Department’s recent offer to open dialog with the D.P.R.K., should it hold off on further testing of its nuclear weapons, indicates that there is will on both sides to pull back from the brink of war. That is sufficient ground for diplomacy to take root. Indeed, where other U.S. presidents have failed, you have the rare opportunity to succeed in achieving a durable peace with North Korea.

KPI called on the U.S. government to start the process by cancelling the upcoming Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises scheduled to start on August 21:

On the heels of highly inflammatory threats being hurled back and forth between your administration and North Korea, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian war game, starting August 21, 2017, is fraught with danger. A miscalculation on either side could set us on an irreversible path to war, possibly nuclear war in which millions are projected to perish in the first hours of fighting, and which would turn much of the region into an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland.

Read the full letter here.

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South Korea: There Will Be No War on Korean Peninsula

NOVANEWS

There will be no war on the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Moon Jae-In stated Thursday, adding that Seoul effectively had a veto over US military action in response to the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

 

Tensions have soared on the peninsula in recent months, with Pyongyang carrying out its first successful tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM], bringing much of the US within range.

Last week it threatened to send a salvo of rockets towards the US territory of Guam – although it appears to have backed off for now – while US President Donald Trump promised “fire and fury” and said that Washington’s weapons were “locked and loaded.”

The intense rhetoric on both sides raised fears of a miscalculation leading to catastrophic consequences – Pyongyang has vast artillery forces deployed within range of Seoul, where millions of people live.

But Moon stressed:

“I will prevent war at all cost.”

“I want all South Koreans to believe with confidence that there will be no war,” he told a press conference marking his first 100 days in office.

The US has been the South’s security guarantor since the end of the Korean War in 1953, which left the peninsula divided and technically still in a state of conflict with no peace treaty signed.

Washington has 28,500 troops stationed in the country to protect it from the North.

Moon, however, said Seoul effectively had a veto on military action by the US.

Washington and Trump had agreed that “no matter what option they take about North Korea, all decisions will be made after consulting with and getting agreement with the Republic of Korea.”

Trump’s rhetoric raised alarm among observers but Moon, who visited Washington at the end of June, declined to criticize his choice of words.

The US leader was “trying to pressure North Korea by showing a firm resolution,” he said.

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South Korean President Says He Can Veto War Against North Korea

NOVANEWS

Vows to Prevent War at Any Cost

 

In an unusually pointed statement on the ongoing fear of a US attack on North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in today gave a speech insisting that he has absolute right to veto any US military action against North Korea, and intends to do so.

Moon declared the decision needed to be made “by ourselves and not by anyone else,” adding that he intends to prevent a war with North Korea “at any cost.” That’s a huge departure from previous reports suggesting South Korea was essentially along for the ride, and was backing whatever Trump would decide, hoping it would eventually end in peace.

Analysts see this as reflective of growing frustration by President Moon, who campaigned on a return to diplomacy with North Korea, but has seen his brief time in office dominated by repeated US threats to destroy North Korea.

Moon’s comments, to those analysts, are an attempt to reassert the traditional balance on the Korean Peninsula, where the US presence is about supporting their South Korean allies, as opposed to South Korea simply being stuck on the North Korean border while the US steams toward a nuclear war.

It’s unclear, however, how well that will be received in the US, as the Trump Administration was already believed not to be thrilled with Moon’s pro-diplomacy bias, and in the past couple of months has re-branded North Korea as a threat to the US mainland, as opposed to a threat to South Korea and Japan.

The timing may be in Moon’s favor, however, as Trump Administration officials appear eager to talk back the notion that a nuclear war is imminent, though both they and North Korea are making it clear they each regard the other side as wholly to blame for the soaring tensions.

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DPRK: ‘Too Late’ For United Korean Team at 2018 Winter Olympics

NOVANEWS
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chang Ung, North Korea
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chang Ung, North Korea’s IOC member at the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, South Korea June 24, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
“The Olympics should not be used for a political aim,” North Korea’s top Olympic official said.

A leading North Korean sports official believes it is too late to consider South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to form a unified team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, saying that political tension must be resolved first.

RELATED: On Korean War Anniversary, DPRK Urges South Korea to Dialogue

“It took us 22 rounds of talks to set up that joint (table tennis) team for the 1991 games. It took us five months,” North Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Chang Ung, told the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper.

At the opening of the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju on Saturday, Moon said he wanted the Koreas to compete as one team next year and highlighted the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships as an example of a previous merger.

Chang, who is leading the North Korea delegation at the Taekwondo event in a city two hours south of Seoul, also ruled out the possibility of using venues in the North to co-host the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games and dismissed the notion that a unified team would help improve ties by saying: “The Olympics should not be used for a political aim.”

“As an expert of the Olympics, it is a little late to be talking about co-hosting. It’s easy to talk about co-hosting, but it is never easy to solve practical problems for that. It’s the same for forming a joint team for ice hockey,” Chang added.

Moon, who was a senior official in the liberal former South Korean government of Roh Moo-hyun in the 2000s, took office on May 10, winning an election on a more moderate approach to North Korea and a promise to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. He has also said that North Korea must be pressured in order them to abandon their nuclear program.

South Korea’s sports officials said they remained receptive to the idea of competing together, however.

“We are still open to possibilities about forming a joint team,” said Chun Byong-keuk, director general of Sports Corporation of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan said last week that he would hold talks with the IOC about forming a joint female ice hockey team for the 2018 Olympics.

South Korea and its northern neighbor, officially called as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, where separated as states in the fallout of World War II, when the occupying U.S. forces pressured the Soviet Union to cede control below the 38th parallel. To prevent the peninsula from falling to leftist forces, the South was put under U.S. control and consolidated as a separate republic.

A brutal conflict to reunify the peninsula ensued and U.S.-backed forces have remained officially at war with the DPRK since an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.

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South Korea’s impeached President planned violent regime change for Pyongyang

NOVANEWS
Image result for south korean flag meaning
By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

A recent report from the Japanese outlet Asahi Shimbun appears to confirm a hypothesis recently published in The Duran that America’s recent fervor over North Korea has a great deal to do with the internal politics of South Korea, more so in many cases than it has to do with events in the DPRK (North Korea).

Impeached former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was known to be an avidly right-wing, anti-North Korean, militant leader. It was under her now disgraced leadership that South Korea agreed to house America’s THAAD missiles, a move that remains deeply unpopular among millions of South Korean citizens.

Now, Asahi Shimbun claims to have obtained documents from South Korea indicating that former President Park Geun-hye signed a document authorizing violent regime change in Pyongyang.

According to the report seen by the Japanese national newspaper, the Park regime was considering attempts at arranging deadly car accidents or train wrecks in order to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Attempts at fomenting a violent coup in North Korea were also considered.

In light of these revelations, it is no wonder that North Korea has taken precautionary measures to defend its sovereignty against these violent threats of illegal regime change from its heavily armed and economically powerful neighbor.

According to the Japanese source, these plans have been taken firmly off the table by President Moon Jae-in, a man who is generally far more peace minded than his deeply militant predecessor.

America’s most bellicose posturing against Pyongyang came in the month prior to the South Korean special Presidential election which saw the peace minded Moon come to power in early May of 2017.

Although America still offers harsh rhetoric on all matters pertaining to North Korea, it was after the election of President Moon that America’s most violent rhetoric seemed to give way to talk of working with international partners including and especially China in order to resolve concerns over North Korea without the threat of military engagement.

These revelations which appear to be credible, demonstrate that Washington’s actions in respect of North Korea have as much to do with the developments in Seoul as they do with developments elsewhere.

READ MORE:

South Korea’s new President may turn to peace

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South Korea: Moon Angered by Arrival of Weapons

NOVANEWS
 

South Korean President Moon Jae In demanded a probe yesterday into why he wasn’t told about the arrival of additional launchers for the country’s US-supplied terminal high-altitude area defence (Thaad) missile defence system.

President Moon vowed before taking office on May 10 to review deployment of a system that has infuriated both North Korea and China, which consider its powerful radar a security threat.

Many of his supporters don’t want the system, which US President Donald Trump said Seoul should pay for.

Senior presidential adviser Yoon Young Chan said Mr Moon had discovered that four more launchers for the Thaad system had arrived in the country since the original two launchers were installed in April.

Defence Ministry officials didn’t report their arrival when they gave the president’s policy advisory committee a briefing last Thursday.

“President Moon said that it’s ‘very shocking’ after receiving a report” on the incident from his national security director, Mr Yoon said.

The new president, who favours dialogue with North Korea, is working with cabinet members appointed by his pro-Washington conservative predecessor Park Geun Hye, who was ousted from office in March over a corruption scandal. Mr Moon has nominated some of his own cabinet members but they haven’t formally taken office.

He was sworn in as president straight after winning a May 9 by-election and hasn’t had the usual two-month transition period.

Washington stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea, supposedly as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

After facing conservative attacks on his security views during the election campaign, Mr Moon toned down his Thaad criticism, saying that deployment would be inevitable if North Korea continued provocative test-firing of ballistic missiles.

THAAD in South Korea

The new president has said that he will employ both persuasion and pressure to resolve the North Korean nuclear stand-off.

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South Korea’s new leader orders probe into ‘unauthorized’ US deployment

NOVANEWS
Image result for South Korea’s new leader CARTOON

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has ordered an investigation into the “unauthorized” deployment of four additional THAAD missile launchers by the United States to the country’s soil.

Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said Moon was “shocked” to hear that the four additional launchers of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system were installed without being reported to the new government or to the public.

“President Moon was briefed on such facts by National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong and said it was very shocking,” the spokesman told a news briefing on Tuesday.

The system was initially deployed to South Korea in March with just two of its maximum load of six launchers with the declared aim of countering North Korean threats.

The South Korean official further said the president had “ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs and the NSO chief to find the truth behind the unauthorized entry of the four rocket launchers.”

The deployment of THAAD, which came amid tensions with North Korea, was met with strong opposition from people in South Korea, including the residents of Seongju County, where the missile system is installed.

The installation was agreed by the government of Moon’s predecessor Park ­Geun-hye, who was impeached and ousted over a corruption scandal.

During his election campaign prior to the May 9 election, Moon had urged a parliamentary review of the controversial deployment, which has angered Pyongyang.

Russia and China have also expressed deep concern over the controversial deployment of the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese officials argue that the US system would interfere with their radars and could pose a threat to Chinese security.

Moscow has also warned that the deployment would only fuel tensions in the region.

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After The South Korean Election: The Movement That Ousted Park Cannot Rest

NOVANEWS
 

War threats before a major political election had been effective in the past in swinging the South Korean electorate to the right, but not this year. The conservative camp is battered and split into two warring parties following the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. The general public—its collective consciousness heightened through the mass protests that successfully ousted Park—is no longer rallying behind hawkish candidates who fan public paranoia to garner votes.

Barring a last-minute surprise upset, liberal democrat Moon Jae-in will be the next president of South Korea. But does he truly represent the interests of the millions who took to the streets to unseat Park and demand systemic change? And what are the tasks facing the left vis a vis the new administration? These are the questions this article will discuss, but first, let’s quickly review the field of candidates.

A Brief Run-down of the Candidates

Moon Jae-in

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Front-runner Moon Jae-in is arguably the greatest beneficiary of the mass protests that led to Park’s impeachment. Widespread discontent against Park and her party as well as the public’s desire for political change have catapulted Moon of the main opposition Minjoo Party to the front of the pack with a significant lead over all other candidates.

Moon was the Chief of Staff for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, who ruled from 2003 to 2008 and continued his predecessor Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy” of engagement and economic cooperation with North Korea. If elected, Moon will likely reverse South Korea’s policy toward North Korea to one of engagement. He has pledged to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex—the joint inter-Korean economic project that was the last remaining hallmark of peaceful North-South engagement before it was shut down by the Park Geun-hye administration in 2016.

The question is, if Moon is elected, will the United States be willing to recalibrate its strategy to allow Moon to lead? And if not, how much will Moon stand up to the United States to chart an independent path?

Ahn Cheol-soo

Image result for Ahn Cheol-sooThe runner-up, according to polls, is Ahn Cheol-soo, who defected from the Minjoo Party to establish the centrist People’s Party in the lead-up to the 2016 general election. His public branding as a successful entrepreneur and political outsider had once made him wildly popular among young people. But his rightward shift in an attempt to court the conservative vote in the aftermath of Park’s impeachment has estranged him from his former fans. He promotes strengthening South Korea’s alliance with the United States and expanding it to a “comprehensive strategic alliance” that includes closer cooperation not just militarily but also in the areas of politics, economy and culture.

Hong Jun-pyo 

Image result for Hong Jun-pyo

Neck and neck with Ahn is Hong Joon-pyo, the governor of South Gyeongsang province and the candidate of the Liberty Korea Party, the right-wing faction of the conservative split. Hong has appealed to South Korea’s far right by doubling down on his conservative positions and slinging mud at his liberal opponents. He has said he wants to bring U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea and has blamed gay people for the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

Sim Sang-jung

Image result for Sim Sang-jungSupport for Sim Sang-jung of the left-leaning Justice Party climbed to a record 11.4 percent in the week leading up to the election. Disaffected voters disappointed by Ahn Cheol-soo’s rightward shift are turning to Sim whose progressive and principled stance on issues such as LGBT rights appeals to young voters seeking change. After splitting off in 2012 from the Unified Progressive Party, which was forcibly dissolved a few years later by Park Geun-hye, the Justice Party has embraced pragmatism over left ideology and rebranded itself as a reformist party to appeal to a broader public. The leaders of the party will likely take official positions in the new liberal democratic administration. Whether the party can consolidate forces on the left to build on the momentum of the mass movement that ousted Park and push for systemic change remains doubtful. 

Yoo Seong-min

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Trailing far behind the rest of the pack is Yoo Seong-min, who represents the moderate, anti-Park faction of the conservative camp. He once served as Park Geun-hye’s chief of staff when she was a lawmaker in the National Assembly. But the two grew apart when his open criticisms of her policies drew her ire and he was excluded from the Saenuri Party’s nomination process in the 2016 general election. During Park’s political scandal, Yoo left the Saenuri Party to help found the splinter Bareun Party. His strongest base is in the conservative stronghold of Daegu and North Gyeongsang province.

Whoever is President, the Mass Movement Cannot Rest

Park’s historic impeachment, which created the opportunity for the upcoming election, did not come about through the political strength or deft maneuvering of the opposition parties. It was the organized power of millions of ordinary people, who rejected Park’s corrupt rule and took to the streets week after week, that pushed the wavering opposition parties into action. 

And that mass movement has now just about handed the presidency to Moon Jae-in. As a liberal democrat, Moon is far better than Park whose authoritarian rule rolled back decades of gains made by the country’s pro-democracy forces. But his party has done little to challenge the previous administration’s labor market reform initiative or block the ongoing deployment of a controversial U.S. missile defense system in Seongju. South Korean progressives note with bitterness that negotiations on the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, which has led to privatization of public services, such as healthcare, began when Moon was in the Blue House as the chief of staff for former President Roh Moo-hyun. 

Clearly, the mass movement that ousted Park cannot rest after May 9 if it wants real change. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this year’s election is that while people power created a historic opportunity for change, there is no political party that can consolidate that power and build on its momentum to fight for issues that are important to the broad majority of working people.

A decade of conservative rule—from Lee Myung-bak to Park Geun-hye, who jailed many opposition leaders, including Han Sang-gyun, the president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and forced the dissolution of the opposition Unified Progressive Party—has battered and fragmented South Korea’s organized left. Whoever is president after May 9, the left has a lot of ground to regain.

The Rise and Fall of the Democratic Labor Party

The South Korean left’s entry into the political arena has its roots in the mass uprisings of 1987, a pivotal year for the country in many regards. The decades-long South Korean struggle for democracy culminated in the June people’s uprising of 1987 and finally put an end to a succession of U.S.-backed military dictatorships. The following months of mass labor strikes in industrial manufacturing zones across South Korea laid the groundwork for the eventual formation of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. And for the first time since the division of Korea in 1945, masses of South Koreans openly called for reconciliation towards peaceful reunification. The formation of the National Council of Student Representatives (Jeondaehyeop) led to South Korean participation in the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang in 1989 and the historic, defiant crossing of the DMZ by the late Reverend Moon Ik-hwan and then-student activist Lim Su-kyung

Image result for korea labor strike

1987, paradoxically, also marked the year that South Korea’s economy, once tightly controlled by an autocratic state, began its transition to a neoliberal market economy modeled after Reagonomics. Thus, the South Korean political forces post-1987 comprised of a political and economic ruling class that embraced neoliberalism and trampled on the rights of workers in the name of “globalization,” on the one hand, and a new democratic force borne out of militant resistance against the system of national division and capitalist exploitation on the other.

Despite major political differences on questions of strategy, the forces at the helm of the pro-democracy struggle, labor unions and social movement organizations joined together in 1987 to form the People’s Victory 21, which became the foundation for the establishment of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) in 2000. The DLP went on to garner 13% of the general vote and gain ten National Assembly seats to become the third largest political party in South Korea in 2004. Its success in 2004 was due in part to a change in election law, which, for the first time, allowed proportional representation, but it would not have been possible without disparate political forces reaching beyond their differences to come together in a united front.

For a relatively small party, the DLP played a key role in South Korean politics from 2000 to 2008. Through direct democracy, the party kept itself firmly rooted in the struggles of workers, farmers and the urban poor, who made up the majority of its membership. Its principled and persuasive positions on behalf of politically marginalized sectors forced the established parties to adopt progressive reforms and had the effect of pulling South Korea’s entire political spectrum to the left. Before its forced dissolution in 2014, the DLP’s heir, the Unified Progressive Party was the most vocal opponent of Park Geun-hye’s policies on a range of issues, from privatization of public services to her hostile stance towards North Korea. 

In the last two decades, South Korea’s political and economic system began to show signs of faltering. The inter-Korean summits between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il in 2007 shook the very foundation of South Korea’s decades-old political system based on national division. South Korea’s economy, which once grew rapidly through neoliberal policies that forced its workforce to tighten their belts and endure longer and harsher working conditions, faced persistent crises, and its core, festering with corrupt collusion between the country’s largest conglomerates and the government, is now laid bare for the entire world to see. 

The mass candlelight protests of 2008—which brought out tens of thousands to protest the reversal of a U.S. beef import ban as part of South Korea’s free trade negotiations with the United States—and the recent protests to oust Park Geun-hye were the embittered expressions of a populace frustrated with the country’s outdated political and economic system and in search of an alternative. The words to their anthem, sung in unison at every candlelight protest, is article one of the constitution: “The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic. All state authority shall emanate from the people.” More than just expressions of discontent over rotten beef or the president’s secret shamanic advisor scandal, the protests raised a fundamental question: the meaning of true sovereignty.

Image result for mass candlelight protests korea

The left, unfortunately, has not provided an answer. Friction due to political differences on questions of strategy led to a split in the DLP in 2008 and created deep rifts within the South Korean left. 2008 also marked the beginning of a decade of conservative rule, which systematically eroded the gains made by the pro-democracy forces in the previous decades. The previous Park Geun-hye administration’s transgressions against the people—from its mishandling of the Sewol Tragedy to its backdoor deal with the Japanese government to silence the former “comfort women” who endured sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial army during WWII—are too many to enumerate. What’s more egregious is the incompetence of the existing opposition parties that have failed to stand up to these overt acts of authoritarianism. The undisguised degeneration of South Korean politics and the rightward shift of the opposition parties are a direct result of the marginalization and isolation of the organized left following the DLP’s break-up.

Time to Regain Lost Ground

The South Korean people, who declared “Basta ya!” and gave Park Geun-hye the boot are still fighting—in the melon fields of Seongju, by the watery grave at Paengmok Harbor and on picket lines small and big across the country. Whoever wins the election on May 9, the mass movement that ousted Park will need to build on the momentum of its victory and keep the pressure on in a number of fronts.

Image result for Park Geun-hye

Former President Park Geun-hye

The most pressing task for the new administration will be to mediate the current crisis between the United States and North Korea. Despite Trump’s declared willingness to sit down with Kim Jong-un, no one—not even China—is able to broker such a meeting. That has to be the task of the incoming South Korean leader. For reconciliation with the North and permanent peace on the peninsula, the South Korean people will need to press the new administration to stand up to the Trump administration and chart an independent path. Demanding the United States end its provocative war exercises in exchange for a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and withdraw its dangerous missile defense system in Seongju is now more urgent than ever.

The fight against the government’s labor market reform initiative—aimed at turning South Korea’s entire workforce into a disposable pool of temporary and precarious labor and undermining the power of unions—will intensify even with a liberal democrat in the Blue House. Unless the mass movement continues to press the next administration, the corrupt system exposed through the Park Geun-hye-Choi Soon-sil scandal—the cozy back-scratching relationship between South Korea’s largest conglomerates and its political leaders—will remain unchanged.

Abolishing the National Security Law—mainly used to punish political opponents, dissolve social organizations and political parties and suppress progressive voices—is a task that even Moon Jae-in failed to do as Roh Moo-hyun’s chief of staff. It will take an organized fight from the left to overturn the archaic law once and for all.

What the movement to impeach Park Geun-hye laid bare is that South Korea’s current political and economic system is no longer sustainable. It also showed clearly that state power, which confines the democratic aspirations of the people, can also be pushed back by their organized power. The fissures in the political system exposed by their struggle are openings for the broader left. 

But people power does not emerge spontaneously. Only when the people are organized through social movements and have a political party that can fight for their interests can they mount effective and sustained resistance to challenge the status quo. A left political party cannot exercise its power in the political arena without the organized social movement of the disenfranchised, who make up the party’s base. Likewise, without a political party that can fight for their interests in the political arena, social movements can easily be defeated. A unified political party fighting in tandem with a social movement of the organized masses is essential for systemic change.

After May 9, the movement that ousted Park cannot rest, as the South Korean majority seeks, as a matter of survival, a political force that will forge a new path. Creating that force—by building social movements and unifying the left to build political power—should be top on the agenda of everyone on the left. And supporting that effort should be a priority for all those outside Korea who were inspired by the awesome mass protests that toppled Park Geun-hye’s regime.

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THAAD Rocket Fuel: Likely Ground Water Contamination Coming to Seongju, South Korea

NOVANEWS
 

The unwelcome US deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense (MD) system in Seongju, South Korea is not only a significant threat to regional peace but is also a major environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

The reason is that rocket fuel contains a deadly chemical component called perchlorate. And since the Seongju area is a melon farming community the risk of ground water contamination by perchlorate should be alarming to all concerned.

Perchlorate, the explosive ingredient in solid rocket fuel, has leaked from military bases and weapons and aerospace contractors’ plants in at least 22 states, contaminating drinking water for millions of Americans.

In the US scientists have warned that perchlorate could cause thyroid deficiency in more than 2.2 million women of childbearing age. This thyroid deficiency could damage the fetus of pregnant women, if left untreated.

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Reports indicate that 20 million to 40 million Americans may be exposed to the chemical.

“We know that the Center for Disease Control has found perchlorate in 100 percent of the people they’ve tested, so there’s widespread exposure, through contaminated drinking water and also through contaminated food,” one expert reported.

The government has found traces of a rocket fuel chemical in organic milk in Maryland, green leaf lettuce grown in Arizona and bottled spring water from Texas and California.

Iceberg lettuce grown in Belle Glade, Florida had the highest concentrations of perchlorate discovered anywhere.  The greens had 71.6 parts per billion (ppb) of the compound, the primary ingredient in rocket propellant. Red leaf lettuce grown in El Centro, California had 52 ppb of perchlorate. Whole organic milk in Maryland had 11.3 ppb of perchlorate.

Next week South Koreans go to the polls to elected a new president after the previous right-wing President Park was impeached.

The Pentagon rushed the THAAD deployment ahead of schedule wanting to lock-in the controversial MD system before a new government took office.  The US fears that the likely new President Moon (a progressive) would ultimately delay or possibly even prevent the US from deploying the interceptor system due to the outrage coming from China and Russia who view THAAD as really being aimed at them rather than North Korea.

As the people of Seongju continue their fight against THAAD they’d be wise to begin to talk about the likely groundwater contamination from the rocket fuel that will be transported and stored on site at the new base presently being constructed at a former golf course.  It’s only a matter of time that perchlorate will be seeping into the water and ultimately impacting their health and their melon crops.

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South Korea Presidential Frontrunner Pledges to Review Divisive THAAD Deployment

NOVANEWS

Image result for South Korea FLAG

Moon Jae-in, the leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election in South Korea, is determined to reassess the controversial deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system since it “did not follow a democratic procedure,” his press team said in a statement seen by Sputnik Korea.

“The THAAD deployment is an issue that must be decided by the next administration based on close discussions with the US and a national consensus, and approached with the best national interest in mind. Since this is an issue of great impact to our national security and comes with great economic costs, it must be ratified by the National Assembly as per the Constitution,” Yoon Kwan-suk, a spokesman for Moon Jae-in said.

The press office also commented on United States President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Seoul should pay for the deployment of a system worth $1 billion.

“The Liberty Korea Party, Bareun Party and the Ministry of National Defense have until now argued that the US will bear the cost of the THAAD operation,” the press office said. “If the reports are true, it is now clear that the decision to deploy the THAAD had a major flaw to begin with.”

The statement urged senior politicians in the former ruling party, as well as high-ranking defense officials, to disclose the details of the deal between Washington and Seoul on THAAD.

On Wednesday, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that components of the THAAD system have been deployed to their intended destination in the North Gyeongsang province. Washington has said that the move comes in response to North Korea’s muscle-flexing, but Jeong Uk-sik, the president of the Peace Network NGO, told Sputnik that THAAD will also be targeted against China.

“Undoubtedly, [Washington] has indicated that the US missile defense system must be alert not only to North Korea, but also China,” he said, citing the testimony made by Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, during a hearing at the House Armed Services Committee.

“Harris’s report clearly shows that US Pacific Command has fostered closer ties with Japan, South Korea and Australia to create a comprehensive missile defense system based on THAAD and the radar deployed to South Korea is one of its links,” the analyst added. “As a result, THAAD and the radar are targeted not only against North Korea, but also China since they are links of a single US missile defense system.”China has been opposed to the THAAD deployment, saying that the move “seriously undermines” strategic security of Beijing and other countries in the region.

Posted in USA, South KoreaComments Off on South Korea Presidential Frontrunner Pledges to Review Divisive THAAD Deployment

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