[Annual Activity Report 2017] Refresh Korea : A Peaceful, Safe and Sustainable World
Annual Activity Report 2017 <Refresh Korea>
Refresh Korea – A Peaceful, Safe and Sustainable World 1
No THAAD, Yes Peace
2017 was a year when the military crisis on the Korean peninsula grew tenser than ever. North Korea performed its sixth nuclear test, alongside various missile tests; U.S. forces in Korea pushed ahead with the deployment of THAAD; South Korean and U.S. troops carried out large scale military drills; and North Korea and the U.S engaged in an aggressive war of words that raised tensions on the peninsula. This is all despite the fact that those living on the peninsular do not want war.
The inclusion Korea in the United States national missile defense system, including the deployment of THAAD, is a dangerous decision that encourages an arms race in Northeast Asia and ultimately aggravates tensions on the Korean Peninsula. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy conducted a campaign to block the deployment of THAAD alongside the civic group “National Action to Stop the Deployment of THAAD in Korea.” PSPD, together with residents of Seongju and Gimcheon, carried out actions in Soseong-ri to prevent the introduction of equipment to be used for the THAAD system. In addition, we have sent messages to the governments of South Korea, North Korea and the U.S. demanding ‘No war on the Korean Peninsula.’ We have urged the South Korean and U.S. governments to suspend joint military drills, and called on North Korea to halt nuclear and missile tests in order to open the door for dialogue.
Despite these actions THAAD was secretively deployed as Park Geun-hye governments was coming to an end, and further deployments were allowed by the Moon Jae in government. However, PSPD played an important role in raising public awareness about the problems associated with THAAD, and built solidarity and support for the people of Soseong-ri.
02.16 [Discussion] Problems and Solutions for Enforcement of THAAD Deployment
05.11 [Accusation] Critique of Hwang Kyo-ahn, Kim Kwan-jin, Han Min-gu and Yoon Byung-se regarding the THAAD deployment
06.23 [Newspaper advertisement] Let THAAD Go, Let Peace Arrive
07.12 [Audit Demand] Demand for public inspection of the entire procedure of consultation, decision, and administration of THADD placement by the Park Geun-hye government.
08.21 [Direct action] Held Peace Mob ‘PEACE NOT WAR, Stop Military Action and Start a Conversation.’
09.16 [Direct action] Soseong-ri peace action: ‘Denunciation of U.S. Coercion Surrounding THADD and the Enforcement of THADD’s Installation by the Moon Jae-in government’
09.19 [Debate] In order to solve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, religious circles and civic groups gathered to hold the ‘2017 Peace Conference on the Korean Peninsula’
11.05 [Direct action] Peace campaign with citizens during Trump’s visit to Korea. “Peace Negotiations against War, PEACE NOT WAR”
Refresh Korea – A Peaceful, Safe and Sustainable World 2
A Society that Prioritizes Safety over Profit
The Sewol ferry tragedy that killed 304 people, and the Oxy humidifier sterilizer scandal that killed 1,296 people, were “social disasters” created by a society where immediate profit is prioritized over safety. The administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, and their political party (now known as the Liberty Korea Party) failed to fulfill their basic obligations to protect the lives of the people and keep them safe. They blocked or hindered the prosecution’s investigation, and delayed both the salvage of the sunken ferry and the investigation of the damage caused by the humidifier disinfectants. PSPD worked alongside other groups to reveal the truth about the two disasters. PSPD sympathized with the pain of the victims and also united with citizens who wanted to create a safer society.
For the past four years, PSPD has hosted the “Seochon Yellow Ribbon Workshop” which provides a location for citizens to make yellow ribbons. In 2017, 682 citizens produced 100,000 such ribbons. 84,550 of these ribbons were distributed around Korea and abroad. In addition, through 76 stores in Seochon, PSPD distributed more than 7,000 ribbons directly to citizens, along with.
PSPD came to the aid of the victims of the humidifier sterilizer scandal, who had been fighting alone. In 2016, PSPD and consumer-civil society groups began these activities by forming the “Humidifier Sterilizing Disaster National Network.” In January 2017, the Humidifier Sterilization Prevention Act was passed. From June to the end of the year, PSPD participated in 24 campaigns with the victim’s families. The aim of the campaign was to demand that the major perpetrators, such as Oxy Korea, alongside the Korean government and National Assembly, work to uncover the truth, aid the victims and prevent a recurrence.
In September 2017, the organizations 416 Family Council, 416 Solidarity, and the Humidifier Sterilizing Disaster National Network, gathered 105,016 signatures to present to the National Assembly for the purpose of establishing a special law to identify the causes of these social disasters and to build a safer society. On November 24th, the Special Act amendment finally passed the National Assembly. This law was passed 341 days after lawmaker Park Joo-min proposed the bill, 1319 days after the Sewol Ferry disaster, and 2278 days after the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that numerous cases of lung disease had been caused by humidifier disinfectants. However, the search for justice has only began. We still have a long way to go until the full truth is revealed, until there is adequate relief and support for the victims, and until satisfactory measures have been taken to prevent future disasters. We at PSPD will continue to work towards these goals.
01.20 Submission of signatures for a victim-centered “Legal Remedy for Humidifier Disinfectant Damages.”
03.21 [Fund raising] Same Value: Seochon is yellow, don’t forget! (269 participants, 2,433,000 won collection)
06.26-12.18 Monday campaign with the Humidifier Sterilizing Disaster National Network (conducted a total of 24 times).
11.18 March to legislate a special law to find the truth of social disasters, “National Assembly, Answer!”
11.21 ‘Encourage legislation of a special law to investigate social disasters.’ Submitted signatures to the National Assembly (105,016 participants)
2016.01 Onwards: Operation of the Seochon Yellow Ribbon Workshop each Wednesday (100,000 ribbons made, 85,550 distributed).
Refresh Korea – Our New Constitution Created by Us
Constitution of the Republic of Korea for Participatory Democracy and the Realization of Human Rights
Korea’s current constitution is the result of the June 1987 democratic uprising, and includes direct presidential elections and an expansion of basic rights. The 1987 Constitution was a step forward, in contrast to previous constitutional changes, which had been created to prolong the dictatorship. Thirty years have passed since the Constitution was revised, and as times have changed, the current constitution has failed to capture the spirit of necessary rights and decentralization, and thus the power structure has become outdated. The changes themselves were drafted in secret, without the participation of the people, therefore explaining their obvious limitations.
Since the summer of 2016, PSPD and our policy committee have formed the “Decentralization, Self-Government, and Basic Rights Research Group” to study the Constitution and consider what should be included in the new constitution. After more than thirty meetings and group discussions, PSPD created a draft constitution to propose during the constitutional amendment process.
PSPD’s Five Main Proposals for Constitutional Reform
1. Strengthening the sovereignty, basic human rights and gender equality of the people
2. Strengthening self-government and decentralization
3. Reducing presidential authority and strengthening presidential controls
4. Institutionalization of direct democracy
5. Promoting principles of social solidarity and the value of coexistence
Since January 2017, when the parliamentary committee for constitutional reform first began its activities, discussions have been confined to the halls of power in Yeouido. In response, 120 civic groups, including PSPD, formed the National Network for People-Led Constitutional Reform to push for five principles on which to base constitutional reform: participation of the people; basic human rights, gender equality and peoples’ sovereignty; autonomy and decentralization; institutionalization of direct democracy; and political reform.
The citizens of the candlelight protests demanded not only the resignation of the government, but the creation of a ‘new country’. Such a new country does not merely result from a change of regime. It requires that the country’s basic legal framework, the constitution, reflects the new demands of the citizens and is shaped by the participation of the citizens themselves. PSPD will present its plan for constitutional reform, which it has been developing for over a year. We will pursue discussions on constitutional rights with citizens and find ways for citizens to participate in the constitutional reform process.
01.09-12.19 Decentralization, Self-Government, and Basic Rights Research Group meetings 6 to 31.
06.22 [Discussion] First round of discussion: How to amend the Constitution.
07.17. [Discussion] Second round of discussion: How to involve citizens in the constitutional reform process.
10.12 [Press Conference] Press Conference for the launch of the National Network for People-Led Constitutional Reform
10.18-12.26 [Discussion] National Network for People-Led Constitutional Reform group discussions 1 to 10.
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