PSPD in English Newsletter 2023-03-21   8829

This Month at PSPD, March 2023

Calls for Truth and Justice Persist!

On February 4th, just one day before the 100th day anniversary of the Itaewon tragedy that occurred on October 29th, family members of the victims and citizens set up a memorial altar at Seoul Plaza. However, even after 100 days have passed, the truth about that day has yet to be properly investigated. The police’s special investigation unit and the national assembly’s investigation have ended with little success, as they only questioned on-site personnel and did not investigate the fundamental causes of the tragedy. On January 13th, Park Hee-young, the mayor of Yongsan-gu, and Kim Kwang-ho, the chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, were arrested and charged on charges of negligent homicide in the performance of official duties. However, the special investigation team decided not to press charges against Yoon Hee-Geun, the chief of police who did not deploy riot police to prevent the tragedy, Lee Sang-min, the minister of interior and safety, who is in charge of commanding and overseeing the police, and Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul, who should have taken responsibility for the disaster that happened in the very heart of Seoul. The investigation said that they do not have “concrete” responsibility for the disaster and therefore their acts cannot constitute a crime. Without having one proper face questioning, the investigation ended.

A parliamentary probe into the Itaewon Tragedy was also found to be inadequate. While the state, local government, and police were found responsible at a comprehensive level, many important facts could not be properly checked due to perjury or refusal to submit relevant evidence by attending institutions. In particular, the family members demand to know the exact time and place of the death of victims as they are either unknown and listed merely as ‘on the streets of Itaewon,’ and to have a thorough investigation in which the families can participate. The families also accuse the government of unfair treatment by trying to prevent them from coming together. The families demand to know what actually triggered this man-made disaster given that many of the police officers on that night were said to be undercover to investigate drug offenses rather than crowd-controlling. There is so much truth yet to be revealed. We demand the launch of an independent body to lead the investigation of the Itaewon tragedy. We ask you to stand with us in the pursuit of finding the truth of the Itaewon tragedy.

Researchers Honored at the ‘Twinkle Twinkle Distinguished Theis Award’ Ceremony for Shining Light on the Cold World.

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On January 30th, the Participatory Society Research Institute hosted the presentation ceremony for the winners of the ‘Twinkle Twinkle Distinguished Thesis Award’ at the Areum-Dri hall in the PSPD. We offer our deep appreciation and encouragement to the researchers who expose the reality of our society and pursue practice-oriented research. These researchers include: Goo Ji-hye, who revealed in her research how labeling “teenage labor” as “deviant” on the pretext of protecting teenagers would lead to the denial of citizenship and labor rights for young women; Ahn Hwa-young, who shed light on how the urban poor, who were sacrificed in the brutal process of industrialization, gained their voice through the urban novels of the 1980s; Lee Hee-young, Jung Da-wool, and Jung Seong-jo, who tracked how the biopolitics in the K-covid19 strategy operated to exclude sexual minorities; and Shin Hyun-a, who studied Okpo Nobo, the newsletter of Dae-woo Shipbuilding Labor Union, and put together the process of how the workers tried to create and retain their own language in the contest with the capitalists after the ’87 Grand Struggle.

Two Years After Myanmar Coup, We Will Achieve The Spring Revolution With Myanmar People

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On February 1st, it marked the two-year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar. As of the end of January, the death toll of civilians in Myanmar had reached at least 2,901 people due to the military’s increasing violence against the people. Despite the military’s violent actions such as shooting, bombing, arson, and arrests, the people of Myanmar have not stopped fighting for democracy. In support of the pro-democracy movement, the Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar, along with the Myanmar communities in Korea, held press conferences, rallies, and marches to condemn the Myanmar military and honor those who sacrificed their lives in the fight for democracy. It was a time for Korean civil society organizations to come together and raise their voices in support of the ongoing struggle for democracy in Myanmar.

NIS Urged to Relinquish Control of Espionage Investigations: A Core Reform for Democracy and Rule of Law

Concerns have been raised as the NIS raided the headquarters of labor unions over suspicions of anti-state activity, bringing back memories of the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations, which sought to create a police state by strengthening the authority of the NIS. As a result, the PSPD has joined the Democratic Oversight Networks of the NIS, a coalition of civil society organizations and congresspeople, to hold an emergency discussion. During the gathering, it was pointed out that attempts to reverse the core reform of the NIS – the transfer of authority to conduct anti-espionage investigations – are threatening both democracy and the rule of law, and must therefore be stopped.

South Korean Court Rules in Favor of Protesters’ Right to Pass in Front of Yoon’s Office

The PSPD has filed a lawsuit to revoke the ban on demonstrations near the presidential office imposed by the Yongsan Police Station. A Seoul Administrative Court ruled against the police, stating that the presidential office was not considered part of the presidential residence defined in Article 11, Paragraph 3 of the Assembly And Demonstration Act. This was the basis on which the police had issued dispositions banning gatherings. The court’s ruling is absolutely correct as it confirms that the police’s arbitrary interpretation was unlawful. Demonstrations that express the opinions of civilians about the president should take place where they can be seen and heard by the president.

“No” to E-Commerce Monopolies: Action Needed.

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Recently, unfair practices by online platform operators such as Coupang, Kakao, and Naver Corp have been revealed one after another. The EU and the USA will soon put the Digital Market Act into force, which designates large online platforms as important gatekeepers and regulates anti-competitive behavior by companies. The “National Network for Fairness in Online Platforms,” of which the PSPD is a part, has proposed the “Online Platform Monopoly Regulation Act,” which is Korea’s version of the Digital Markets Act. They are working together with Rep. Lee Dong-ju of the Democratic Party to introduce this act.

Translated by a PSPD Volunteer

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