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President Park is gone for good – and trade unions played a major role in making it happen

15 March 2017
The impeachment of Park Geun-hye, now former President of South Korea, is not only the culmination of a political scandal involving corruption. It is also a victory built by the trade union movement which, relentless, denounced for years the abuses against workers committed by her regime.

On 10 March, a unanimous 8–0 decision taken by the Constitutional Court of South Korea removed Park from office, accepting an indicative vote for her impeachment given, on 9 December 2016, by 234 out of 300 National Assembly members.
Accordingly to the Constitution, South Korea must now elect a new president within 60 days.

“We welcome the news that a regime which systematically abused workers and trade union's rights has, at last, fallen. The allegations against Park Geun-hye confirm that her government, which criminalized trade unions, was actually on the payroll of Korean multinational corporates. This is a great success for the union movement, which never gave up and continued fighting despite all the odds intrinsic to authoritarian regimes, such as persecutions and arbitrary arrests of union leaders. We expect that the outcome of the coming election, on 9 May, will represent the beginning of a new more democratic Korea,” says PSI’s General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli.

On 10 March, PSI affiliate the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (KHMU) announced a celebratory statement saying that:

Today’s decision made at the constitutional court resulted from the candlelight vigils and persistent struggles to create a new democratic nation in which the 99% has the right to pursue happiness. Such struggles created this victorious civic revolution, which will be long celebrated in Korea’s history. We have braved the freezing cold in the middle of winter and filled the square with victorious voices for democracy and justice. Now, a new gate of hope has swung wide-open for people. Korea is ready to march towards a new future. Finally, spring has arrived with hope.

KHMU President Yoo Ji-hyun believes that such a victory brings incentive to find out the truth about healthcare scandals, remove harmful practices in the healthcare sector, and strengthen the public nature of healthcare services.

“Today’s victory is the victory of the grand civic revolution and of truth and democracy. I deeply thank all of our comrades, brothers and sisters of trade unions worldwide for their warm and support for our struggles against injustice,” said Yoo Ji-hyun.

It is believed that over the past four months approximately 156 million people gathered at the weekend candlelight vigils throughout South Korea.
See below all the actions PSI took alongside with other Global Unions since 2013 – year that Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s president:


South Korea: The world is watching! 19/02/2013

Korea: KGEU very close to government recognition 05/08/2013

Korean government rejects KGEU registration for fourth time 05/08/2013

South Korea: Precarious workers' rally 30/09/2013

Save Jinju medical centre and public health care in Korea 04/11/2013

Korean airport staff strike against corporate union-busting 19/11/2013

Korea: Incheon airport workers' dispute: progress, but union-busting still feared 21/11/2013

Presentation notes: Resisting privatisation in Korea 10/12/2013


Korea: Support railway workers' right to strike 20/01/2014

International trade union mission in South Korea: High-level mission statement 21/01/2014

Defending trade union rights in South Korea 10/02/2014

Support Korean workers – hold protests at Korean embassies on 9 and 16-18 January 10/02/2014

International trade union mission condemns continuing labour rights violations in South Korea 04/03/2014

Korea health workers’ union anti-privatisation campaign 08/04/2014

Solidarity with Korean education support workers 27/05/2014

PSI Deputy General Secretary at Sewol memorial rally in Korea 23/06/2014

Korea: Health unions strike and rally against health privatisation 30/06/2014

As Korean workers fight for their rights, Swiss do business with Korean President 18/08/2014


Korean school teachers injured during police raid 19/02/2015

South Korea: 49 trade unionists arrested 26/02/2015

South Korea: the struggle continues 26/02/2015

South Korean workers fight for the right to retire in dignity 26/02/2015

Korea: Hands off our right to strike! 02/03/2015

Deregulation of transport safety can be lethal, say Korean unions 03/04/2015

Hands off our right to strike! 20/04/2015

Solidarity with Korean education support workers 21/04/2015

Korean education support, hospital workers on strike 24/04/2015

Korea: over 100,000 workers join general strike on 24 April 04/05/2015

The struggle of precarious school workers in Korea 04/08/2015

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in Korea exposed workers to high risks 05/08/2015

Korea: health staff confronted with MERS coronavirus demand government action plan 05/08/2015

PSI statement on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Korea 05/08/2015

Korea MERS outbreak: trade unions say Save people's lives, protect workers' safety 05/08/2015

Video: Precarious work situation of education support workers in Korea 14/10/2015

PSI stands in solidarity with South Korean unions after government carries out punitive raids 09/12/2015

Solidarity with trade unionists in Korea 10/12/2015


South Korea's human rights hypocrisy 29/02/2016

A new session of the UN Human Rights Council starts and there’s something not quite right 31/05/2016

Korean workers and activists demonstrate in Geneva 23/06/2016

Solidarity with the Korean People’s Strike 27/06/2016

Urgent action: solidarity with Vice President of KPTU in Korea 01/07/2016

KCTU President sentenced to 5 years 04/07/2016

Global union leaders personally investigate victimisation of South Korean trade unionists 26/07/2016

Democracy demands more: repression and trials in South Korea 02/08/2016

South Korea: Survey finds hospitals are still a blind spot for maternity protection 05/09/2016

Korean health workers' union protest flawed labor market reforms 05/09/2016

Korea: government continues its crackdown on trade unions 08/09/2016

Union mission delivers strong statement as it stands alongside Korean strikers 30/09/2016

International delegation visits Korea over union persecution 04/10/2016

Violation of workers’ rights in Korea - general strike of 30 November 30/11/2016


At Annual Congress, KPTU Looks towards the Future 23/02/2017

KHMU resolves to struggle for better health care and the candlelight revolution in Korea, at annual Congress 03/03/2017

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