Building Ships, Building a Nation
Korea's Democratic Unionism under Park Chung Hee
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Washington Press
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LOOKING BACK ON THE LONG AND WINDING JOURNEY THAT HAS RESULTED in this book, I feel deep gratitude toward many people who were willing to help and guide me. Without their steadfast encouragement and support, this book would not have been completed...
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IN THE FALL OF 1969, THE LAST YEAR OF AN EVENTFUL FIRST DECADE OF military rule in South Korea, the government of Park Chung Hee (Pak Chŏng - hŭi) intervened and crushed a militant union at the country’s largest shipyard, the Korea Shipbuilding and Engineering Corporation (the Taehan Chosŏn...
Part I: The Legacies of Colonialism and the Early Cold War Years
1. Worker Military in the Postwar Years
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WHEN NEWS OF THE JAPANESE SURRENDER TO THE ALLIED FORCES REACHED Korea on August 15, 1945, Koreans—full of enthusiasm and hope for an independent nation and a better society—erupted in an explosion of political activism. The dream of building a strong and prosperous nation-state, the leitmotif...
2. Anticommunism, Labor Rights, and Organized Labor: The Early 1950s
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THE DEMOCRATIC FERVOR THAT SWEPT THROUGH KOREA AFTER LIBERAtion soon met with the cruel reality of foreign occupation and escalating civil war. Koreans were sucked into the whirlwind of events accompanying the postwar reconfiguration of the East Asian political economy...
Part II: The Emergence of a Democratic Union
3. KSEC Workers in the 1950s
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THE 1950S WAS A PARTICULARLY TRAUMATIC DECADE IN THE HISTORY OF South Korea. The Korean War, which devastated the whole Korean Peninsula and generated so many atrocities and tragedies, was followed by the consolidation of dictatorial rule by Syngman Rhee. The United States pumped in massive...
4. The KSEC Union in the Political Upheavals of 1960-61
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THE WAVE OF MASS DEMONSTRATIONS THAT TOPPLED THE SYNGMAN Rhee government in April 1960—which became known in South Korea as the April (Student) Revolution or the April 19 Students’ Righteous Uprising (ŭigŏ)— was started in protest of severe fraud committed by the Rhee regime in the March...
5. Consolidation of a Democratic Union
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THE 1960S IN SOUTH KOREA WAS A TRANSITIONAL PERIOD IN WHICH DIFferent visions for nation building coexisted and collided. After the April Revolution of 1960 aspirations for democratic transformation of society were very high among the populace. Many workers in the KSEC shipyard union tried to...
6. Rationalization and Resistance
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THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PROGRESSIVE UNION LIKE THE KSEC WAS POSsible in the 1960s not only because the Park Chung Hee regime’s labor policy up to 1968 was, contrary to the conventional view, relatively tolerant of labor activism. It was also greatly facilitated by the fact that, unlike in privately owned...
Part III: Development over Democracy
7. Development versus Democracy: The Late 1960s
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THE STORY OF THE KSEC LOCAL SHOWS HOW A SEGMENT OF HEAVY-industry workers in South Korea was able to build a militant and democratic union movement by the mid-1960s. The KSEC union did so by successfully utilizing the full potential of the available legal, ideological, and economic resources...
8. Privatization and the Suppression of Labor, 1968-69
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DURING THE 1960S THE SOUTH KOREAN “DEVELOPMENTAL STATE” WAS taking shape through trial and error, and so were the state’s labor mobilization and control policies.1 Under Park Chung Hee’s leadership the second half of the 1960s saw significant economic growth through exports of manufactured goods...
9. Shipbuilding Workers under Authoritarian Rule: The 1970s
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THE MILITANT UNION MOVEMENT AT THE KSEC YARD LASTED ABOUT A DECADE, FROM the late 1950s until late 1969. Among many factors that contributed to its defeat, the change in the state labor policy stands out as the immediate cause of the collapse of the union leadership. During the 1960s, not only the Office...
10. Shipbuilding for the World Market and Resurging Labor Militancy
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HAVING SUBJUGATED ITS UNION THROUGH A DRAWN-OUT STRUGGLE SPANNING a full year, the KSEC, now under private ownership, once again embarked on an ambitious project of modernizing its facilities, rationalizing the production process, and updating its technological capabilities. The management at the...
Appendix A: The KSEC Union Archive Document File List, 1960-79
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Appendix B: The Labor Charter of 1948
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Appendix C: A Comparison of Two Contracts, 1968 and 1971
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Publication Year: 2009