Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalization
One of the most remarkable aspects of South Korea's transition from impoverished post-colonial nation to fully-fledged industrialized democracy has been the growth of its independent and dynamic labour movement. Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation examines current trends and transformations within the Korean labour movement since the 1990s.
It has been a common assumption that the 'third wave' of democratisation, the end of the Cold War, and the spread of neoliberal globalisation in the latter part of the 20th century have helped to create an environment in which organised labour is better placed to overcome bureaucratic national unionism and transform itself into a potential counter-globalisation movement. However, Kevin Gray argues that despite the apparent continued phenomena of labour militancy and the rhetoric of anti-neoliberalism, the mainstream independent labour movement in Korea has become increasingly institutionalised and bureaucratised into the new capitalist democracy. This process is demonstrated by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions' experience of participation in various forms of policy making forums. Gray suggests that as a result, the KCTU has failed to mount an effective challenge against processes of neoliberal restructuring and concomitant social polarisation.
The Korean experience provides an excellent case study for understanding the relationship between organised labour and globalisation. Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation will appeal to students and scholars of Korean studies and International Political Economy, as well as Asian politics and economics.
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This argument was first made by concerned intellectuals, but through the 1990s
would spread to the labour movement in general, and this became the dominant
view within the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) which was ...
Through examining these debates over union strategy, I argue that the historical
experience of the Korean labour movement is diametrically opposed to the ISMU
thesis of a positive relationship between the extent of neoliberal globalization ...
If, on the other hand, the capital-labour relation is viewed as an exploitative
relation, then the long-term objective of the labour movement becomes the
radical transformation of society. Kim Se-Kyun's own analysis of the capital-
labour relation ...
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