On Thursday, March 15th, feminist groups and nonaffiliated individuals held a joint press conference in Press Center and declared the inauguration of Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement. Korean Women Workers Association and eleven regional branches joined the Action.

 

 

 

 

Recently, #MeToo in various sectors of the society is ceaselessly pouring out. Sexism and sexual violence in Korean society is not new, but what many victims and feminist groups have pointed out for a long time. Sexual violence is not a personal trivial incident, but a social structural problem that all the members of the society should work hard to remove.

 

Korean society should feel responsible for the #MeToo movement, and actively engage in the reform of social structure that has made sexist power relation and sexual violence possible. We should consider sexism and sexual violence as a serious problem of the time and gather the power of solidarity across the entire society. Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement aims at coming up with continuous and integrated approach so that many feminist, labor, and civic groups and individuals can cooperate and support #MeToo.

 

 

 

Based on this understanding of the current situation and the passion for the better, Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement finally inaugurated in March 15th to gather power to remove sexual violence in the society. More than three hundred and forty feminist, labor, and civic groups and more than a hundred and sixty individuals joined.

 

 

 

 

Now we will build up a foundation to support the social change by the #MeToo movement. We will urge legal and institutional reform and plan various cultural events to improve social awareness and to create gender equal society.

 

 

 

 

Below are the goals of Citizen Action with #MeToo Movement. 

○ We support the #MeToo movement with solidarity for the fundamental change of the sexist structure and culture.

○ We take firm action against any plot to doubt, blame, or make political use of victims, and work hard to protect the rights of victims.

○ We remove any institutional or cultural scheme to shut victims’ mouths, and urge clear investigation and proper punishment for perpetrators.

○ We urge the State and the society to fulfill their duty to uproot sexism and sexual violence and actualize gender equality and to devise detailed policies and institutions.

○ We self-inspect and discuss our everyday lives and activities for actual change, and urge self-inspection and change of the whole society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After delivering the purpose, goal, and plan of the citizen action, we showed a symbolical performance. We tore a large banner to pieces, which contained sexist phrases and sentences created under the sexist social atmosphere. It showed our strong will to never accept this words anymore and to remove prevalent sexual violence and create a gender equal society after this wave of #MeToo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it is!

 

#MeToo, at the end of this fight will arrive the world we have imagined! Korean Women Workers Association will always walk along with this wave. We ask for your attention and support!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

Cooperative Council of Care Workers, representing housekeepers, personal assistants for the disabled, social workers, baby caregivers, and other sorts of care workers, held a general assembly in February 3rd at Daejeon NGO Support Center.

 

 

 

 

 

A number of representatives attended the fifth general assembly meeting. The secretary-general of the Busan regional branch helped starting the pre-meeting program.

 

 

 

The chairperson of the Cooperative Council of Care Workers, Yoon Hyeyeon gave a lecture on “How to Protect Care Work?”

 

 

 

 

She briefly explained the history of the Cooperative Council of Care Workers. She reaffirmed that care work is not voluntary free labor but a proper form of labor. The members of the council have fought hard for the acknowledgement of care work over the last five years, which contributed to the broader social consciousness of care work

 

 

 

Government’s attitude toward care work has changed a lot in terms of institutions and policies. However, Yoon pointed out that there is still a long way to go, especially to the Bureau of National Association of Housekeepers and Social Service Bureau.

 

 

 

 

 

After the lecture, regional branches introduced themselves. Fifteen branches under the council shared their last-year projects with photos and funny chants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a short break, the general assembly began with a congratulatory speech of the standing representative of the Korean Women Workers Association Lim Yoonok. She pointed out that the invisible care workers became visible as a result of the council and the members’ effort and protests. The State Council has passed Domestic Labor Act and the rationalization of care work pay has started. Lim encouraged the members to overcome the expected difficulties later on.

 

 

 

The secretary-general of the council Ssollang reported the activities and projects in 2017. The council did a lot!

 

 

 

 

And she proposed the council’s 2018 plan, as below.

1. Stabilization of the council for people-centered care work and community-based management

2. Education of the members to help them grow as the experts in care work

3. Planning for development of the council organization

 

 

 

With the concurrences of the representatives, the council’s 2018 plan was approved. Let’s go for another meaningful year 2018! We hope the value of care work can be comprehended in a broader society in 2018 with the members’ passion and resolution.

 

 

 

P.S. The secretary-general Ssollang, who has worked hard from the start of the council, will quit in February. She sent her regard to the members in the meeting and the members sent their gratitude to her dedication. Wish you all the best, Ssollang!

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA

[Press Conference] Ministry of Justice and Prosecution Service Should Thoroughly Investigate the Sexual Violence Incident within the Organization and Take Action! —Simultaneous press conference in the sixteen regions across the country urging the investigation of the sexual violence incident in the Prosecution Service

 

 

 

In January 29th, 2018, Prosecutor Seo Jihyun disclosed that she had suffered sexual violence eight years ago by a high-ranking executive in the Ministry of Justice, but had never been apologized but rather disadvantaged in promotion. We wholeheartedly support Prosecutor Seo who took her courage on behalf of all of us.

 

In February 1st, Korean Women Workers Association and regional branches, in company with Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, United Korea Women’s Association, United Korean YWCA, and Committee of Women’s Rights of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, held simultaneous press conferences in front of the Supreme Prosecution Service and sixteen regional Prosecution Services to urge the investigation of the intra-organizational sexual violence incident. Korean Women Workers Association made a speech at the press conference held in front of the Supreme Prosecution Service.

 

 

 

 

[Speech] Gender Equal Justice for the Prosecutor Seo Jihyun!

Lim Yunok (Standing Representative of the Korean Women Workers Association)

 

Everyone must have seen the prosecutor’s interview. I was in tears watching her putting stress on every word. I could tell how difficult it was for her to take heart to speak out and how brave she was to burden the responsibility to speak out. She has heard a lot of resigned voices, such as “It is easy to fabricate you as a crazy bitch. Just be quiet and work hard.” “If you want to live as a prosecutor for a long time, you had better get good evaluation from your bosses.” But prosecutor Seo stood up. I truthfully appreciate her courage to make all the women to witness the power of a dignified survivor and to voice ourselves with our own courage.

 

Prosecutor Seo said in the interview: “Even though I was the victim of the sexual violence, I have blamed myself for the eight years. I thought I was suffering the shameful incident because I might have done something wrong. Thus, I am here today to tell the victims that it is not their fault. It took me eight years to realize that.”

 

Yes. The perpetrator Ahn Taegeun, the then Director of the Office of Policy Development of the Ministry of Justice, insisted that “I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.” The Ministry of Justice articulated that “There was no problem in the personnel system.” While the perpetrator has promoted to the Director of Criminal Affairs Bureau and enjoyed power, the victim had to spend eight years to realize that it was not her fault. We all know that the eight years must have been an ongoing torture for her.

 

How gruesome it is. As a taxpayer, as a citizen who expects the Prosecution Service to be righteous, and as a social activist who has claimed for years that sexual assault is violence, I am miserable. What is the Prosecution Service for? It is a state organization which is meant to actualize justice. It is the Prosecution Service that investigate and penalize sexual violence. The incident happened in a funeral. There was the Minister of Justice right nearby. And many other prosecutors were witnessing the scene. However, that sexual violence has been concealed for eight years. I am miserable.

 

That’s not all. Prosecutor Seo hesitated to disclose this incident concerning it might cause trouble to the organization. Moreover, she has received not an apology but disadvantages within the organization, including anomalous administrative inspection, warning from the Prosecutor General, deprivation of prosecuting discretion, and unusual personnel appointment. She had twice earned achievement awards as an excellent prosecutor, but after the incident she has suffered all these disadvantages by male high-ranking executives who wanted to conceal this violence.

 

What is the problem? What made the organization of the Prosecution Service decay as such? What or Who gave the right to them to overrule the Constitution, Labor Standards Act, Gender Equal Employment Opportunity Act?

 

I think it is the unbreakable power of the upper 1%. “I have received the achievement award twice, which is hard for anyone to receive even once in a life time. My service has been selected as an exemplary case once every few months and got rewarded. But these achievements have not really been reflected in the personnel assessment. I have seen a lot of cases, in which incapable male prosecutors get awarded or promoted to good positions in spite of female prosecutors’ better performance.” As prosecutor Seo said as such, if personnel system and reward system are not transparent, it could always be easy to manipulate the organization and disadvantage the powerless people. The personnel assessment system itself is sexist. Sexism at work cannot be removed until the personnel system becomes righteous and transparent, tearing down the mutually-protecting male power structure.

 

Prosecutor Seo said that now she knows there is no other way to voice herself to the people who ignore the powerless and patron-less prosecutor’s cry.

 

Now we declare. Prosecutor Seo, you are not alone. We hear you. We sympathize you in solidarity. We will fight for the end of sexual violence at work to help out women lacking patrons and power within state institutions like the Prosecution Service.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Press Conference]

In response to the sexual violence within the Prosecution Service,

We support prosecutor Seo’s courage!

We urge the investigation without any sanctuary!

 

  

In October 2010, one female prosecutor was sexually harassed by an executive of the Ministry of Justice in a funeral. After the incident, she had not received any apology from the perpetrator but rather received unconvincing disadvantages at work, such as anomalous administrative inspection, warning from the Prosecutor General, deprivation of prosecuting discretion, and unusual personnel appointment. The victim disclosed this incident to the press in January 29th, 2018. Her interview exposed the judicial institutions’ unjust attempt to conceal the incident and to suppress her by disadvantages in the personnel system.

 

After the sexual harassment, the victim naïvely thought she could keep working in the organization without any problem if she worked hard. However, the continuous disadvantages at work have her blaming herself for not officially filing a complaint and realizing that no reform can be initiated if the victim keeps silenced. She said, “I am here today to tell the victims that it is not their fault.” We need to think about how our society should comprehend the prosecutor Seo’s courage. We argue as below.

 

First, thoroughly investigate the incident.

Ministry of Justice made a remark in January 29th, 2018 that it was difficult to grasp the details of the sexual harassment incident of eight years ago, and that there was no problem on paper about the personnel assessment of the victim. We raise questions how the comprehension of the details of the sexual harassment incident of eight years ago can be done as quickly as such, whether they thoroughly and sincerely investigated the incident or not, and how much the victim’s testimony was reflected in the investigation. In response to the critical public opinion, the Ministry of Justice articulated on 30th that they would carefully examine the issue and take measures, and created an investigation team on 31st. However, we think the investigation team consisting only of prosecutors is not enough for righteous inspection. We urge the establishment of the Committee for Special Investigation including civilian experts. Furthermore, we urge the establishment of the High-Ranking Public Officials’ Corruption Investigation Agency, which would be the foundation for righteous investigation procedure.

 

Second, no more re-victimization.

We clearly remember the Supreme Court’s sentencing remarks in December 2017 on the sexual harassment incident in the Renault Samsung Motors. It says, “What victim experienced should be admitted as disadvantage, if there were the circumstances which reflect the company’s intention of oppressing the victim’s official complaint.” It is a declaratory warning towards the re-victimization, including counteraccusation, retaliation, disadvantage, and ostracizing/bullying. If “there was no problem on paper” as the Ministry of Justice insisted, we need to delve into what makes it possible that there was no problem. There work conventional biases against victim, such as “the victim must have induced the incident,” or “the victim slanders male rival to get promoted or to dig some money.” We need to think hard to eliminate these sorts logic of exclusion of women at work.

 

Third, we urge deep introspection and concrete efforts for gender equality within the Prosecution Service.

Korean Association of Sexual Violence Relief Centers’ 2017 evaluation on “facilitators and obstacles” of righteous inspections on sexual violence concludes that the Prosecution Service occupies 6 obstacles out of 10. It reveals the Prosecution Service’s general attitude and perspective toward sexual violence cases and victims. According to Korean Sexual Violence Relief Center’s 2003 research on the gender awareness and gender equality education of the people in the legal profession, 80% answered “Yes” to the entry “Sexual violence cases have more false accusation for the purpose of money.” In comparing these two researches, we can see that the misunderstanding of sexual violence and sexual victims has not been improved over the last fifteen years. Prosecution Service should be responsible for the detailed measures to improve gender awareness within the organization, such as gender equality education and exhaustive inspection on the sexual violence incident among the members. It is indispensable not only for no more such incident in the Prosecution Service but also for righteous inspection and prevention of sexual violence in the entire Korean society.

 

Over the last thirty years, Korean society has witnessed sexual victims’ speaking as well as the resulting changes in law, institutions, and social consciousness. However, many victims are still forced to choose to keep silenced, to conceal the incident, or to leave the communities. Only in a mutually-trusting society where victims do not have to leave the communities because of their official complaints can sincere change begin. The victim prosecutor Seo might have taken her courage based on her trust of the changing society represented by the so-called feminist president and the Prosecution Reformation Committee. Victims publicly break the silence not only because they realize there is no personal or institutional way to resolve their suffer, but also because they trust the members of the society to help them. Now we declare our wholehearted support for the prosecutor Seo who bravely stood up on behalf of all of us. We will stand on her side. We will monitor and urge the Prosecution Service to recover trust from the powerless people in the society and to actualize justice.

 

Now we demand:

 

Prosecution Service should thoroughly investigate the incident with a Committee for Special Investigation including civilian experts!

 

Ministry of Justice should establish the High-Ranking Public Officials’ Corruption Investigation Agency and thoroughly inspect the high-ranking public officials’ offences!

 

Prosecution Service should come up with the detailed measures to improve gender awareness within the organization, such as gender equality education and exhaustive inspection on the sexual violence incident among the members!

 

Prosecution Service should improve its member’s competency to investigate sexual violence incident by gender equality education!

 

Stop suspecting and blaming the victim and prevent re-victimization!

 

2018. 2. 1.

Posted by KWWA

 

[Recollection] “For Gender Equal Labor in 2018”: The 26th General Assembly of the Korean Women Workers Association

January 23rd, 2018

 

 

 

The 26th General Assembly of the Korean Women Workers Association was held in January 19th at Daejeon NGO Support Center.

 

Representatives from eleven regional branches and other affiliated organizations attended.

 

 

 

Six key values of the Korean Women Workers Association—Respect, Solicitude, Equality, Self-Determination, Open-mindedness, and Growth with Each Other—and twelve promises to systematically implement these values had been resolved in the last headquarter meeting.

 

 

 

Each branch has printed the reified promises and exhibited them in the assembly room. We hope these resolutions could help our Association growing into a more equal and harmonious organization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the General Assembly, Choi Eunsun, a long-time lawyer for victims of sexual violence and a joint representative of the Korean Women’s Association United, gave a lecture, titled “Gender Equal Constitutional Amendment Can Change Our Lives.”

 

 

 

 

In comparing the political situations around constitutional amendment in 1987 and 2018, she argued that the amendment in 2018 after the Candlelight Revolution should overcome the limits of the amendment in 1987. By introducing Recall, Initiative, and Plebiscite by the people and by expanding direct democracy, the constitution should be revised in the direction of extending the fundamental rights of the people, she argued.

 

Moreover, Choi emphasized that gender equality should be one of the national objectives in order to actualize democracy. Gender inequality and gender division of labor prevailing in every sector in the society have not been overthrown over the past thirty years, when Korea has witnessed magnificent developments institutionally as well as socially. Choi pointed out that the voice of gender equality can be heard in the society by the gender equal constitutional amendment.

 

 

 

 

 

After the lecture, Secretary General Neuti hosted the self-introduction of the regional branches. They introduced their own six values and twelve promises by acrostic poem.

 

 

 

 

Korean Women Workers Association composed a poem with the value Growth with Each Other.

 

 

 

 

 

Two new activists in Seoul branch introduced themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the branches enjoyed the time with interesting poems.

Then the 26th General Assembly started by the two representatives’ opening speeches.

 

 

 

 

Standing Representative Lim Yunok opened her speech with the three scenes of the last year. First, Stop at 3 O’clock March on the International Women’s Day in Gwanghwamoon Square, in which the issue of gender wage gap was first brought up to the national political discourse. Second, the resolution of the six key values of the Korean Women Workers Association. Third, the establishment of the Feminist Worker Academy as a forum for regional feminist discussion. Lim said that we did a lot, but we were not done.

 

 

 

Joint Representative Bae Jinkyung added that Korean Women Workers Association is not an organization only for social activities but also for relaxation and life of the members. To achieve gender equal labor in 2018 and to move forward, we need to work hard, but we also need to rely on each other and become relaxation to each other.

 

 

Chairperson of the Korean Women’s Trade Union Na Jihyun attended and gave a short speech.

 

 

General Assembly moved on to the reports of the last year’s projects and finance, and to the approval of this year’s projects. Below is the Korean Women Workers Association’s keynote of the year 2018.

 

Keynote for Year 2018 (the fourth-year plan)

1. As a new paradigm for woman labor policy, we propose “Gender Equal Labor Policy” and develop activities and movements for the realization of gender equality at work.

2. We try to realize future plans for sustainable movement for gender equality at work.

 

 

Key Projects

1. Removal of the Gender Wage Gap

1) A road map for the removal of the gender wage gap

2) International Women’s Day

3) Removal of the Gender Wage Gap Day (May 11th)

4) Campaign for observance and realization of minimum wage

 

 

2. “Change and Growth”: Realization of Future Plans for Gender Equality at Work

1) Evaluation of “Equality Hot Line” project and pursuit of reorientation of KWWA’s project

2) Settlement of feminist organizational culture (Attractive organization)

3) Expansion of the female worker generation

4) Recruitment and reproduction of activists

5) Organization of 10,000 members and establishment of regional branches in 16 provinces (long-term plan) 

 

 

We ask for your support and participation of the Korean Women Workers Association’s activities for removal of gender wage gap in 2018 and the Association’s sustainable growth towards better future.

 

After the meaningful (but less funJ) General Assembly, we held an award ceremony for regional branches and activists. The newest activists from each branch helped awarding the prizes.

 

 

 

Breaking up the Year 2018 Award: Seoul Women Workers’ Association

 

 Increasing Power of Feminism Award: Masan-Changwon Women Workers’ Association

 

Busking with Female Workers Award: Kwangju Women Workers’ Association 

 

I am the Heroin of the Equality Hot Line Award: Kyungjoo Women Workers’ Association 

 

Let’s Restart from Here from Now Award: Puchon Women Workers’ Association

 

“We Can Speak” with Female Workers Award: Daegu Women Workers’ Association  

 

Activity, Is It True? Award: Korean Caring Cooperative Council 

 

Domination of Female Labor in Busan Award: Busan Women’s Association

 

Great Job This Year Award: Suwon Women Workers’ Association

 

We Met the Lives of Female Workers in Small Workplace Award: North Cholla Women Workers’ Association 

 

Do Whatever You Want! We support You! Award:  Ansan Women Workers’ Association

 

 

The 26th General Assembly came to an end as such. Let’s go for the realization of gender equality at work! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by KWWA