South Korea

Letter from South Korea

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The handshake in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un marked a radical shift in US policy towards North Korea. It was an unfamiliar scene, indeed. For more than 70 years, US and North Korea have been in armed stand-off. During the summit Kim is reported to have told Trump: “Many people will think of this as a form of fantasy… a science-fiction movie.” While the US president declared, “We have developed a very special bond.”

Letter from South Korea

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Kyung-nok Chun reports on how a strike by rail workers shook the country's rightwing president and altered the political landscape.

The 23-day strike by the South Korean railway union that ended on 31 December was by far the most serious challenge to Park Geun-hye, whose election as president a year ago sowed horror among many worker activists and the left.

The strike was the lightning rod for the anger of everyone disgusted by Park - the former dictator's daughter. It was a battle fought on behalf of the entire working class. And though the outcome fell short of a victory, it left in its wake fertile ground for future struggles to develop.

Crisis in Korea

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The increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula over the last few months have brought a renewed sense of insecurity to many in the region. The two Koreas are no strangers to these sorts of tensions, but this time the crisis has prompted some to make comparisons with the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

On 30 March, North Korea even announced that "inter-Korean relations are in a state of war" and later claimed that it would restart its suspended nuclear enrichment facility at Yongbyon. Many commentators have also speculated that North Korea would launch a ballistic missile or carry out a fourth nuclear test.

Letter from South Korea

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The recent artillery exchanges in the Korean peninsula come after a period of escalating tension in the region, reports Kim Ha-young.

At the end of November, North Korea fired artillery shells into Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, killing four people, including two innocent civilians. It is claimed that South Korea retaliated with its own artillery, resulting in major damage to North Korea. A North Korean broadcast reported, "The enemy fired artillery shells indiscriminately, even to residential areas."

South Korean beef protests

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What began as a mass protest against the new right wing government's decision to resume US beef imports entered a new stage when around a million protesters took to the streets nationwide in South Korea on 10 June.

They demanded "complete renegotiation" of the deal and "[President] Lee Myung-bak out" of the four month old government.

It surprised not only South Korean society but the world with the spontaneity and creativity demonstrated by youth and students who are often labelled as "apolitical". The protests quickly grew into a broader movement for democracy and against pro-business reforms like privatisation of water, gas, electricity, health and education.

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