A woman in 1970 and a woman in 2017 met together

Kim Kyung-suk Award where I met women in books




※ This article is written by KWWA Volunteer Jung, Seunghee.


  On 21 Dec. the strong wind stopped as if it cheers women workers’ fights. On the day I joined the 4th Kim Kyungsuk Award-women labor movement award for the year- and the Solidarity Night of Women Workers as a volunteer of Korean Women Workers Association. As I am a just a student and had a short experience of working, women labor movement is merely something in the book and newspapers. While I moved to the event site, I was a bit exited to listens from women labor movement activists directly and at the same time I was a bit nervous doubting I would be a help for the events.

  While I prepared for the event finding what I should do, many people came in the event site. Before the opening, there was a session where participants took photos in solidarity with women crews dismissed by Korea Train Express(KTX) with supportive messages and I was in charge of taking the photos. I was confident to see most participants readily taking solidarity photos.







  This year's winners are dismissed workers at KTX (KTX crew branch of Korean Railway Workers' Union), who have continued to fight against deceiving in recruitments and unfair dismissals for more than 4,300 days. I hadn’t known their stories in detail but I had a chance to learn their stories from a magazine closely. In 2004 they came through a tough competition to become the first crew of Korail. I can imagine how much they were happy as I am now in the same age of them at the time of their joining in KTX. And I became more sympathetic to their sufferings for the same reason



  In the talk show following the award event, we listened stories from Kim, Seungha, the KTX branch chief and Jeong, Mijung, secretariat of the branch, and Lee, Chonggak, the branch chief of Dongil Textile. I am a student majored in Business you can easily meet anywhere and have little knowledge on the labor movement in 1970s. But I had a chance to read 'Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation' written by Koo, Hagen in a class on labor this semester. The book is written for the students in the US. So it was easy for me as well even though I didn't have much background on labor movements. The book is mainly about women in 1970s who played crucial role in the movement. While reading, I was astonished to learn how the government and employers exploited them and repressed the movement cruelly.


  The most shocking two stories were about Kim, Kyungsuk who died during the sit-in of YH Trading company trade union at Shin Min party's headquarters and that Dongil textile workers’ strike where the company throw feces on them. It was inhuman and I was almost loosing sense of humanity. I had a fit of anger and resentment while listening from the person who was at the scene. When Lee, Chonggak couldn’t control her rage and said she has had trauma after the strike, I was shedding drops of tears out of anger.


- Screening of 'the flowery (documenting YH trade union fights)' at the beginning of the event





  What made me sad was that women workers in 2017 still have the same experience with those who were in 1970-80s. I was frustrated at how long the women workers’ suffering lasted until today but Lee Chong-gak's speaking consoled us and gave a hope. Lee was one of the woman who had bitter fights in the past and she told us that she realized the fights were for herself in the end. Out of respect and inspired by her speech I was able to overcome frustration and to have a will fight to the end.

  In the end of the event participants made circles and sang by changing lyrics together. I took photos of them hanging around them. I found strong energies coming from somewhere when I see them as a whole picture. I might be overwhelmed by their collective experiences.



- Picture of circling and singing by changing lyrics






  When the world is seen from a distance, we cannot find it changing. But when you look at it closely, we can see the world changing slowly. We must remember sweat and tears which made progresses in the history. I enjoyed the moment of sharing experiences and pains and finally reconfirming the will of solidarity. That made the day meaningful and beautiful for a student who will be a woman worker in the future.


- Jung, Seunghee, volunteer having time with Korean Women Workers' Association activists and women labor movement activist in 1970s





2017. 12. 28



Posted by KWWA