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Loren Goldner, Urgent Appeal: Eight South Korean Labor Activists Face 5-7 Years in Prison

Urgent Appeal: Eight South Korean Labor Activists Face 5-7 Years in Prison Loren Goldner

[I don't believe too much in the efficacy of the kind of write-in protest advocated below, but an international spotlight on this case just might have an effect on the final sentencing of these exemplary militants. Please distribute far and wide.]

On Dec. 3 of last year, the prosecutor in the Seoul Central District Court demanded prison terms of 5-7 years for Oh sei-chull and other members (Yang Hyo-seok, Yang Joon-seok, Choi Young-ik, Park Joon-seon, Jeong Won-hyung, and Oh Min-gyu) of the Socialist Workers’ Alliance of Korea (SWLK), a revolutionary socialist group. These activists in the Korean working-class movement were indicted under South Korea’s notorious National Security Law (passed in 1948 and theoretically still stipulating the death penalty for “pro-North” activities). The eight militants of the SWLK, who as internationalists advocate working-class revolution in both Koreas, were accused of no specific crime except being socialists, but in reality the indictment resulted from their intervention in several strikes and movements going back to 2007.

This is the first instance of such harsh repression under the National Security Law in many years. It occurs in the larger context of the hard-right turn (such as the smashing of the Ssangyong Motor Co. strike of 2009) of South Korean President Lee Myong Bak’s government since he took office in early 2008. (In fact, leaflets of the SWLK distributed during the Ssangyong strike were key evidence in the trial.)

Prosecutors have attempted to indict members of the SWLK several times since 2008, and prior to December, the prosecutors’ case was thrown out of court each time. It is not impossible that a barrage of e-mail protests to Judge Hyung Doo Kim of the Seoul Central District Court will help reduce or obviate the pending sentences altogether, when final sentencing will take place on Jan. 27.

Let Judge Kim know your feelings in your own words about this crackdown on “thought crime” by writing to swlk@jinbo.net

The e-mails must be received by 06:00 AM on Monday January 17th 2011 (Seoul time), so that the SWLK’s lawyer can forward them to Judge Kim prior to sentencing.

Please distribute this appeal as widely as possible. Messages in languages other than English are welcome.

For further details on this case, contact me at lrgoldner@gmail.com