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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However , the worldwide transition towards a nominal or formal democracy took
place in the wider context of a shift in US foreign policy that resulted from the late
twentieth century crisis of capital accumulation and an accompanying perceived
For Wall Street , which seeks maximum returns to capital , controls on capital
movements can only be opposed to their interests , whatever role they may play
in insulating domestic economies and societies from systemic crises ( Wade and
The argument that the chaeb˘l system was a liability was an opinion shared not
least of all with international capital . Such ' system maintaining demands should
be viewed in the first instance as aiming to rid Korean capitalism and society of ...
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The rise and fall of militant labour unionism in Korea
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