President Park Geun-hye of South Korea is removed by parliament for nepotism and corruption. This is not new in the Republic of Korea, which is a capitalist society build on exploitation of workers and poor. President Park allowed Choi Sun-Sil, a close confidant of her to have a lot of political saying, although this Choi is not elected into any office. As close friend of the now former president, Choi Sun-Sil enriched herself with government money. Big businesses such as Samsung, Hyundai and Lotte have all been involved in this big corruption scheme. This was the final push the liberal opposition needed to impeach the president. With 62 votes from the ruling conservative party, Park Geun-hye lost her presidential powers!
As daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee, Geun-hye was loved by the conservative establishment. She won the 2012 presidential elections by making populist promises. Geun-hye promised better social conditions, better health care, more opportunities for small and medium sized companies and used her gender as an argument for her so-called progressive stances. The reality is that Park Geun-hye is not a progressive woman. She belongs to the New Frontier Party formerly known as the Grand National Party, a right-wing conservative party!
The conservatives of South Korea are the politicians of the elitist ruling class, anticommunist to the core and very hostile towards leftist ideas, which they always call: ”communist”. When in government, conservatives still use old dictatorial laws to silence criticism from the revolutionary left. It is banned by law to be a communist and to call for a socialist revolution. Under conservative rule, the South Korean government banned a leftist nationalist party on grounds that it was pro-North Korean. The Unified Progressive Party was not pro-North Korean, it was however deeply anti-imperialist and anti-American. It was also this leftist party who exposed Park Chung-hee as a Japanese soldier, bringing great shame to Park Geun-hye and her presidency!
Geun-hye grew up as the first lady of the militarist regime led by her father: Chung-hee. Since her mother was murdered by a supporter of North Korea, Geun-hye was seen as the first lady of ”Free Korea”, this is how the anticommunist media proclaimed her father’s dictatorship. At age 27, Geun-hye also lost her dad when the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (CIA clone) decided to kill dictator Park Chung-hee in 1979. After losing both her parents to assassins, she studied in Taiwan in the 80’s before returning to South Korea, to become active in conservative politics in the new democratic era!
She was elected into the South Korean parliament in 1998 for the Grand National Party. From 2000 to 2008, the Republic of Korea was ruled by liberal democrats, the opponents of the conservatives. Their governments were however plagued by corruption and scandals. This allowed the conservatives to win the support of many Koreans, who felt betrayed by the so called ”democrats”. During the 2006 local elections, Park Geun-hye was attacked by a criminal who cut a deep wound in her face. She recovered and ran for her party’s chair, which she won. Geun-hye became the first woman to run a deeply conservative party!
In 2012, Geun-hye defeated Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party, today known in South Korea as the Democratic Party of Korea. Her victory over the liberals gave the conservatives not only the presidency, but also a majority in parliament. Although Geun-hye used her gender and populism to win the election, the working class of South Korea realized that her allegiance was not with ordinary people. President Park started to cut social spending and ordered massive privatizations. She continued the austerity cuts made by president Lee Myung-bak. The Park-administration also took the first steps in privatizing Korean Railways by splitting it into competing subsidiaries!
Her austerity regime led to massive strikes and resistance. Workers across South Korea rose up in rebellion against the now deeply unpopular president. Young people are hit very hard as youth unemployment reached 9%. Those with work should not celebrate as many jobs are of low income. 23,9% of all work in the Republic of Korea is done by low wage workers. Only the United States of America and Cambodia have more low income jobs. The Park administration did nothing to end the deep gap between the super rich and the poor. Because South Korea is a wealthy nation, yet there are many who have to work very hard for very little money!
Strikes and protests have led to police brutality and crackdown by government officials. Many say that the state resorted to their old violent stance on crushing anybody who stands against their capitalist politics. The fact that Park Geun-hye is the daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee, fueled the hatred many ordinary workers feel towards the presidency. When she used the dictatorial National Security Law against peaceful protesters, it was said that president Geun-hye had completely detached herself from reality!
The dark reality of unregulated capitalism kicked in with the sinking of the MV Sewol in April 2014. This ferry was illegally modified to carry more passengers then she was originally meant to have. The MV Sewol took on 300 teenagers for a school-trip to one of South Korea’s small islands. Disaster hit after the ship took a heavy list after a sharp turn. Most passengers remained in their cabins because the crew told them to stay. Only 172 out of 476 survived the capsizing and sinking. It was concluded that the ship was out of balance because of the illegal modifications to her passenger compartment. The owners of the MV Sewol were able to bypass government regulation and expand the number of cabins on the upper deck. Bypassing regulation is not an exception in South Korea. Laws to protect the public are in place, but big business controls everything in the Republic of Korea. Capitalists own and pay politicians, government bureaucrats and regulation inspectors!
Park Geun-hye final downfall came in late 2016. A corruption scandal surfaced that a close friend of the president called: Choi Sun-Sil participated in extorting money from the state. This 60 year old woman is said to be masterminding governmental policy, decision making and misusing funds for herself. It was reported that Choi Sun-Sil took over W77.4 billion (75 million dollars) for her own use. Choi also bribed the prestigious Ewha Womans University, to give her own daughter preferential treatment. After this was discovered, the university canceled the diploma’s of 20 year old: Chung Yoo-ra, a daughter of Choi Sun-Sil!
A number of big capitalist Korean companies were also bribed. Big names like Samsung, Hyundai and Lotte are part of the scandal that rocks South Korean society. Meanwhile the Stalinist: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is exploiting these scandals to the full. The Kim dynasty led by Kim Jong Un is portraying the South Korean state as corrupt and loyal only to a small group of capitalists. In this the North Korean propaganda is not false. South Korea has and remains a bastion of inequality, corruption and nepotism!
The capitalist politicians were not willing to impeach the president at first. Even the liberals of the Democratic Party of Korea hesitated. It was the massive outcry on the streets and the fact that over 1 million Koreans demonstrated against Park Geun-hye, that led to a voting in parliament. Her own conservative party was deeply split between die-hard loyalists and those who realized that over 78% of all South Koreans, wanted to impeach the president. Thanks to 62 votes from the New Frontier Party, there was a majority calling for the removal of Geun-hye’s presidential powers. On 9 December 2016, Hwang Kyo-ahn the prime minister of the Republic of Korea, became Acting President. He assumed the presidential duties of Park Geun-hye!
Even with new elections, the system of the south must change. Workers need a party for their own. Some socialists are participating in building the Labor Party, a new party that was build out of the former New Progressive Party and Socialist Party. They claim to be both anti-imperialist (against the USA), anti-capitalist and anti-Juche (against North Korea). The problem of leftists is the complete media blackout. South Korean media is ignoring the ideas of leftist parties like the Labor Party. Also there is a social stigma on socialist ideas. The Republic of Korea has brainwashed whole generations since 1948, with anticommunism and antisocialism. It is not easy to portray yourself as a leftist, yet among a new generation; socialist ideas are winning popularity. But major media networks only give air time to accepted political formations, like the liberals of the Democratic Party of Korea and conservatives of the New Frontier Party!
A new president will not easily back down on austerity. Both liberals and conservatives are puppets of capitalism and have proven this. Revolutionary socialists therefore call for the formation of a mass party of working class people. The Labor Party can become this party if it presents a clear socialist program, in opposition to the liberals, conservatives and progressives. Because there is a social democratic party to the left of the liberals. The Justice Party has a good progressive platform, but it remains limited to social democracy and this idea that you can reform the capitalist system. Even the Justice Party is no vehicle for working class people!
Socialists and activists from the Labor Party need to build their own independent media. Because it is clear that the big networks do not wish to include socialist propaganda among the political propaganda of capitalist parties. In the last general election in 2016, the Labor Party won 91.000 votes. This is not much when you compare it to 24 million people. However out of these 24 million, only 58% came to vote. Proofing how little trust there is in elections. It is up to the revolutionary left to inspire workers and their families to vote for a party that represents their interests. Liberals and conservatives have promised many things, but as history has shown they only support one class: the capitalist class!