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Globalizations December 2009, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.

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Framing Free Trade Agreements: The Politics of Nationalism in the Anti-Neoliberal Globalization Movement in South Korea

Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

ABSTRACT This paper offers a critical analysis of the current political trajectory of the antineoliberal globalization movement (ANGM) in South Korea. Drawing on framing theory, it analyzes the ways in which the Korean ANGM interpreted a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. This article postulates that national sovereignty was the master frame of the Korean ANGM and that the movement has projected the nation-state as the ethical guardian of national interests without specifying an alternative trading or economic model that can better serve the interests of the people. Thus, through pointing out the shortcomings of a nationalist framing that ignores the class relations and conicting interests that ultimately shape the contents of any trade or economic development model, this article seeks to bring attention to the limitations of the ANGM as well as the need to develop alternatives to the existing global trading system. culo ofrece una visio n cr tica de la trayectoria pol tica del movimiento de globalizacio n Este art s) en Corea del Sur. Extrayendo de una teor a antineoliberal (ANGM, por sus siglas en ingle culo analiza las maneras como el movimiento de globalizacio n enmarcada, el art un tratado de libre comercio (FTA, por sus siglas en ingle s) con los antineoliberal enmarco n del Estados Unidos y luego discute las limitaciones y las deciencias de la enmarcacio a nacional fue la movimiento del tratado de libre comercio. Sostiene que la soberan n principal del movimiento coreano y que la enmarcacio n nacionalista del enmarcacio nico de la tratado de libre comercio, no era fundamentalmente diferente del discurso hegemo n asume que dado que los elite coreana, sobre el tratado de libre comercio. Tambie sticos de los marcos del movimiento se enfocaron al proteccionismo principales progno selectivo y capitalismo de bienestar, tendieron a limitar el rango de alternativas a la n neoliberal. globalizacio

Correspondence Address: Mi Park, Sociology and Social Anthropology Department, 6135 University Ave., McCain Arts and Social Science Building, Room 3119, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4P9, Canada. Email: ISSN 1474-7731 Print/ISSN 1474-774X Online/09/04045116 # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14747730903298694

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Keywords: free trade, nationalism, neoliberalism, social movements, South Korea, East Asia Introduction In recent years, countries that had previously sought trade liberalization through the multilateral World Trade Organization (WTO) are now bypassing the WTO in order to establish bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). This shift from multilateralism to bilateralism is remarkable when we consider the following statistics: an average of two bilateral investment treaties have been signed every week over the past ten years and more than 100 countries were engaged in over 67 bilateral trade negotiations during 2006 alone. As of 2007, the number of FTAs in existence has risen to more than 250 (Oxfam, 2007), and around 50% of world trade is now taking place through FTAs (Japan FTAs, 2007). Against this backdrop, various civil society groups have contested this trend towards FTAs. The Hemispheric Social Alliance (HAS), Seattle to Brussels (S2B), Our World is Not for Sale (OWNFS), Via Campensina, and the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) are examples of regional and international networks of social movement organizations that contest the way in which the current structure of global trade is being transformed. While the specic content of FTAs varies from case to case (see Broad, 2002; Whalley, 2008), these organizations and networks contend that FTAs are even more negative in their implication than previous trade agreements, such as the General Agreements on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). In contrast, the political forces that favor FTAs, such as pro-business think tanks and lobby groups for national or transnational corporations, argue that the race to free trade agreements is both inevitable and irreversible. Sharing much in common with the hyperglobalist globalization discourse, they argue that without FTA membership, the competitiveness of individual states will suffer. Thus, the FTA is a new discourse deployed by corporations and neoliberal states in order to break down barriers to capital mobility. Given the contested meaning of FTAs, this paper seeks to examine the politics of resistance surrounding FTAs. As can be seen, the forging of FTAs is the new terrain on which the power struggle between capital and labor takes place. In particular, this paper seeks to examine critically the response of the anti-neoliberal globalization movement (ANGM) in South Korea (herein Korea) to a proposed FTA with the USA (KORUS FTA) between 2006 and 2007.1 It will be argued that nationalism was salient among both the opponents and the proponents of the FTA. The Korean ANGM dened the KORUS FTA as representing the subjugation of South Korea to US imperialism, while the Korean elite presented it as a means to strengthen Korean national interests against its rivals, namely China and Japan. However, the main problem with the Korean ANGMs nationalist framing is that it posits the nation-state as the ethical guardian of national interests and as the transformative agency. By doing so, it fails to suggest alternative political and economic frameworks that can better serve

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the interests of the people. Without clearly spelling out what constitutes national interests and more importantly how to safeguard those interests, the supposedly counter-hegemonic stance of the movement does not radically differ from the hegemonic view of the Korean elite. Discussing these limitations, the article ends with a call for the development of concrete suggestions for alternative trade models. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in Asia: Contributing Factors The immediate factor that precipitated the FTA drive in Asia was the stalemate in multilateral trade negotiations through the WTO since 1999. This failure of the multilateral trade framework pressured China, Japan, and Korea to seek alternative trade agreements, particularly since the protectionist preferential trading agreements such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU) sought to discriminate countries outside their respective regional trade blocs (Chai, 2003, p. 389). In this context, Japan and Korea sought FTAs with n del Sur),2 so that they member countries of NAFTA and the Mercosur (Mercado Comu could use their FTA partners as a gateway to protected markets. Both scholars and activists tend to treat Asian countries as passive victims, bullied by the world superpowers such as the US, the EU, and Japan into entering FTA negotiations (See Oxfam, 2007). However, this is a simplistic portrayal. China, Japan, and Korea actively encouraged capitalist rivalry in Asia and this consequently added pressure on the US and the EU to seek FTA partners in the region. It should be noted that FTAs have been closely related to geopolitical interests. The initial drive to FTAs stemmed from the collective unhappiness of Asian countries with the US in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian nancial crisis. The Asia-Pacic Economic Cooperation (APEC) was, for example, considered an organization dominated by U.S. interests and resented the tyrannical control of their economies by the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund (Wall, 2002). In response, many Asian countries felt the need to build an Asian regional economic bloc to avoid dependency on the US (Chai, 2003). Japan, for example, proposed the establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund, although this proposal did not materialize due to strong opposition from the US and China. By 2000, however, the Southeast Asian countries established the ASEAN plus 3, a regional bloc covering the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, plus Japan, China, and Korea (Wall, 2002). Capitalist rivalry between China, Japan, and Korea prevented the formation of a proposed ASEAN plus 3 FTA. In 2002, China excluded its economic rivals and signed a deal directly with ASEAN to form a free trade bloc with the area. The China-ASEAN FTA was nonetheless still the worlds largest, with a market of 1.7 billion people (Glosserman and Fritschi, 2002), more than US$2 trillion in gross domestic product, 10 per cent of the worlds total and 40 per cent of the worlds foreign exchange reserves (China Daily, 2002). According to Wang Shouye, a senior international relations researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), ASEAN wanted an FTA with China because closer economic ties with China could alleviate pressures some ASEAN countries are feeling from the United States to extend the anti-terrorism war into ASEAN, which is strongly opposed by ASEANs Muslim population (China Daily, 2002). As part of the ruling Liberal Democratic Partys (LDP) traditional support base, Japans agricultural sector had previously been able to oppose FTAs with Asian countries that were major exporters of agricultural goods (Hisane, 2007). However, concern at the growing Chinese inuence in Asia led Japan to adopt a more aggressive attitude towards FTAs. Beijings announcement to form an FTA with ASEAN was a wakeup call for Japan to reshape its policy

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regarding Southeast Asia (Kajita, 2002). Beginning with an FTA with Singapore in 2002, Japan began FTA talks with Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Korea. Fujio Mitarai, chairman of Canon Inc. as well as of the Japan Business Federation, voiced his concern that Japan was somewhat behind the competition to form FTAs (Asia Times, 2007). To accelerate the FTA process, in 2004, the Japanese Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the nations most powerful business lobby, proposed the creation of an FTA panel headed by Prime Minister (Japan Times, 2004). Anxiously watching the development of FTA negotiations initiated by China and Japan, Korean capital (chaebol) worried that they too were lagging behind in the cutthroat competition of the global economy. The Samsung Economic Research Institute, a leading business think tank in Korea, urged the Korean government to follow suit (Chosun, 2002). Consequently, by the end of 2005, Korea had signed FTAs with ve countries including the European Free Trade Association (EFTA: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), Chile, and Singapore. In 2006, Korea began FTA talks with ASEAN, the US, and Canada. It was not only Korea and Japan that felt pressure to accelerate FTA negotiations. The creation of the China-ASEAN trading bloc put the US, which has so far taken a wait-and-see attitude (Hirao, 2002), under great pressure to seek FTA partners in Asia. Korea proved to be a ready and willing trade partner for the US, although it was not until 2006 that the two countries entered into formal talks. This was mainly because the US was preoccupied with the creation of the Free Trade Agreements of Americas (FTAA). The China-ASEAN FTA, however, forced the US to turn its attention to Asia. In 2007, a year after the US and Korea began negotiations, they reached an agreement to form the largest bilateral trade pact (for the US) since the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Koreas decision to sign an FTA with the US was primarily motivated by Koreas capitalist rivalry with China and Japan. Korean capital considered an FTA with the US as necessary in order to take over a share in the North American market from Japan and China. The business community in Korea saw a great opportunity in preferential access to the US market ahead of Japan and China. Their reasoning was clearly reected in the following editorial of Chosun Ilbo, a conservative, pro-business newspaper in the Republic of Korea (ROK).
China will be taking over all of the industries in which Korea is presently leading. That prediction is becoming a reality in the United States, the worlds largest market. Over the last 10 years, Chinas share of the U.S. market rose from six percent to 15 percent, but Koreas share shrank from three to two percent. When China and Japan sign free trade agreements with the United States before we do, our entire economy will be exposed to the elements. In order to survive, Korea must forge an FTA with the United States before China or Japan. (Chosun, 2007a)

From the perspective of the United States, the FTA with Korea was driven by geopolitical considerations. The US needed Asian partners to counter the political inuence of China in Asia. As Tim Shorrock put it, Free-traders in the US have argued that, with China beginning to dominate East Asia, an FTA with South Korea will help the United States maintain US inuence in the region (Shorrock, 2007). For the US, an FTA would reverse South Koreas growing trade ties with China, potentially regain the US position as Seouls pre-eminent trade partner, and counter perceptions of Beijings increasing inuence over South Korea (Klingner, 2006). Currently, China is Koreas biggest trading partner (Korea Times, 2008). The EU, worried about competition from US, Japanese, and Korean corporations in the region (Knottnerus, 2007; Santiago, 2007), is a latecomer to the FTA race in Asia. In a desperate bid to play catch-up, the EU proposed a series of FTAs with Asian countries. As Santiago put it, Viewed from an EC commercial and political vantage point, Asia is perceived as a necessary

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battle ground. European dominance in Asia is central to positioning itself as a leading player in the world economy. (Santiago, 2007) In short, the FTA drive in Asia was fueled by the intensive rivalry between China, Japan, and Korea. Since the ASEAN-China FTA of 2002, 119 FTAs have been negotiated in the AsiaPacic. As of 2007, the number of countries with which China is negotiating or has proposed FTAs was 28, while the number for the EU is 21 and 10 for the US (Japan FTAs, 2007). Globalization and the Korean State ` -vis TNCs and global governance institutions is at the heart of the The power of the state vis-a globalization debate (Faulks, 1999). Hyper-globalization theorists (Ohmae, 1995; Thurow, 2000) posit that the state has lost its ability to determine national economic policies since TNCs and global governance organizations such as the World Bank, IMF, and WTO can enforce conformity on all nations. In contrast, the more nuanced approach to globalization (Harvey, 2005; Hirst and Thompson, 1996; Wood, 1997) contends that states remain powerful actors that provide legal and political frameworks and various supporting mechanisms for capital. In an era of globalization where capital relies more and more on the state to create the right conditions for accumulation, Wood contends that the state acquires a new function, i.e., an instrument of competition in the international market (Wood, 1997, p. 3). As she puts it, the nation-state is the main conduit between capital and the global market (ibid.). While the hyper-globalization theory may hold true for many countries in the global South, the power and inuence of the nation-state vary from case to case, and depend on a number of factors including the nature of state civil society relations, the degree of integration of the nations economy into the global market, and the prevailing international geopolitical climate. For instance, the politics in Korea surrounding FTAs certainly vindicates Woods contention. The Korean state played an active role in shaping the content of FTAs in the interests of Korean capital. The contrasting outcomes of two sets of FTA negotiations illustrate this point. Korean capital pressured the government to sign an FTA with the US, while opposing an FTA with Japan. Since the proposed FTA with Japan was regarded as disadvantageous to Korea, the negotiations with Japan reached a deadlock in 2005. Although agricultural issues were ostensibly the source of disagreement, the real reason was that Korea had a comparative disadvantage in the areas where Korean capital had a big stake. Korean capital felt that, given the similar economic structures of the two countries (both are export-oriented economies with a major focus on auto and electronics), Korean capital would lose out from an FTA due to Japans superior technology. ngyo ngnyo n, the national lobby group of Korean capital, Samsung electronics and Cho opposed the FTA and consequently, the FTA negotiations broke down (C. K. Kim, 2007). Korean capital saw more potential gains from an FTA with the US, given the different economic structure of the two countries (strong agricultural and service sectors in the US versus a strong manufacturing sector in Korea). As a result, Korean capital believed that an FTA with the US would provide greater opportunities for the sale of cars and electronic goods in the US markets. Thus, when the Korean government entered into FTA negotiations with the US, it worked closely with business think tanks to ensure that Korean capitals interests would be protected. For example, the government sought to protect some service sectors in which the Korean chaebol has a big stake (C. K. Kim, 2007). As can be seen, the Korean governments involvement in the FTA race does not support the common view that Asian countries were coerced into such agreements by the US and Japan. In

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both the Korea Japan and Korea US FTA negotiations, the Korean state played an active role in pursuing the interests of Korean capital. It is within this context that the central argument of this paper must be understood: that the anti-neoliberal globalization movement in Korea has failed to formulate a critique of the state as the main conduit between Korean capital and the global market. With an emphasis on national interests, the Korean ANGM used nationalist language to dene the meaning of the FTA. Consequently the nationalistic framing of FTA was almost indistinguishable from the Korean elites hegemonic discourse. This means that even if globalization has the potential to make the states class politics more salient and relevant, this potentiality is not actualized as long as the anti-state feelings and postures in the popular resistance against neoliberal globalization are framed in the language of economic nationalism. Thus, the issue is framed in terms of Korean nation versus US imperialism rather than capital versus labor. The problem with this nationalistic discourse is that it limits the range of strategies and alternatives to neoliberal globalization. The Anti-Neoliberal Globalization Movement in South Korea: A Brief Overview South Korea has a long history of militant student and labor activism (see Park, 2005, 2007, 2008; nnohyo p, Abelmann, 1996; H.-Y. Jo, 1995, 1998; Y.-S. Kim, 1999; E.-B. Hwang, 1985; Cho 1991). The origins of the various social movement organizations that now make up the antiglobalization and anti-FTA movements date back to the radical student movement of the 1980s. As a result of the concerted efforts made by student activists to organize the working class, an independent and militant trade union movement, later led by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), came into being in the late 1980s. In 2000, with the aim of utilizing formal political institutions to push the working peoples agenda, the KCTU and progressive civic groups founded the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). Although the Korean workers struggle against domestic capital has a long history, it was only from the mid-1990s that Korean workers and students confronted neoliberal globalization, as capital sought to take advantage of nonstandard forms of employment that began to characterize the new global economy. In 1996, the Kim Young Sam government introduced a new labor bill that made it easier for Korean capital to lay off workers and make use of irregular workers. The government sought to justify the bill with the argument that Korea must have exible labor in order to adapt to the constantly changing and ever competitive global economy. In response, the KCTU waged a series of general strikes throughout 1997. While initially garnering broad public support, this workers resistance encountered a harsh political environment when Korea was swept into the Asian nancial crisis in 1997 and 1998. As many companies went bankrupt, the Korean government was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help. The IMF in turn demanded a structural adjustment program (SAP) as a necessary condition for the bailout (Park, 2007). This SAP demanded the liberalization of Koreas nancial markets, the privatization of state-owned industries, and cuts to government social spending. Against this backdrop, a coalition of social movement organizations mobilized against both the IMFs SAP and the WTO was founded in 1999 (KoPA, 2003) and later provided a basis for the emergence of the Korean ndae) in 2003, a coalition of 37 social movement organizations Peoples Alliance (Minjungyo including KCTU and DLP. In 2003, the anti-neoliberal globalization movement conducted a series of mass mobilizations in response to FTA negotiations with Chile and Japan. The FTA with Chile met strong opposition from Korean farmers, and several workers committed self-immolation to protest the governments neoliberal policies on labor relations and trade. Furthermore, as the Korean

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labor movement joined the anti-FTA campaign, the KCTU carried out a number of general strikes. Thus, it was reported that anti-FTA protests took place almost everyday in November of the year 2003 when the organized resistance peaked (KoPA, 2003). In 2006, the proposed FTA with the US stirred up nationwide discontent and opposition that far exceeded that of previous anti-FTA mobilizations. To voice opposition to the KORUS-FTA, over 300 social movement organizations, including trade unions, farmers groups, and NGOs, formed the Korean Alliance against KORUS-FTA (KoA) in March 2006. The anti-KORUSFTA coalition has a broad constituency, made up of diverse civic and political sectors ranging from members of the National Assembly to farmers, workers, and urban middle classes. The major actors in KoA, however, are the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), and the Korean Peoples Alliance. The Korean anti-FTA movement organized a series of protest actions against the KORUS-FTA. According to Chosun Ilbo, a conservative pro-business newspaper in Korea, 62 illegal and violent protests against the KORUS-FTA took place in 2006 alone (Chosun, 2007d). As of May 2008, the total number of demonstrations against the KORUS-FTA reached 620 (Joongang Daily, 2008). Some notable events organized by the anti-FTA movement include the KCTU-led anti-FTA strikes and national rallies. The Ministry of Labor estimated that 74,000 people from 101 companies participated in the anti-FTA strike of July 2006 (Chosun, 2006b). Again, according to the Labor Ministry, about 58,000 workers of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors joined the partial walkout against the KORUS-FTA (International Herald Tribune, 2006). Furthermore, on 22 November, a national day of action against the KORUS-FTA, thousands of workers, peasants, students, and teachers took to the streets in major cities of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The anti-FTA coalition, despite its efforts, failed to stop the Roh Mu-Hyun government from signing the KORUS-FTA in April 2007. Nevertheless, major actors in the anti-FTA movement declared that they would continue their struggle to nullify the agreement. For instance, in June 2007, about 100,000 members of the Korean Metal Workers Union participated in a series of anti-FTA strikes and hundreds and thousands of workers joined the KCTU organized national rally in major cities of ROK. (Chosun, 2007c; Newscham, 2007a) Again, on 11 November 2007, the anti-FTA coalition held a national rally that drew 200,000 participants. The movement regained momentum in April 2008 when the newly elected conservative Lee Myung-Bak government signed a deal to completely open the Korean market to US beef. It should be noted that as one of the prerequisites for FTA negotiations between the two countries, the USA had demanded that Korea resume the importation of US beef. The beef deal thereby clearly signied the newly elected governments strong commitment to KORUS-FTA. Throughout the summer of 2008, hundreds of thousands of students, workers, and ordinary Korean citizens took to the streets condemning the beef deal. At the time of writing, the KORUS-FTA still awaits nal ratication by the Korean National Assembly and the US Congress. The long delay in ratication of KORUS-FTA clearly demonstrates deep political division over the FTA issue in both Korea and the US. It should be noted that the Korean anti-FTA movement also fostered cross-border solidarity action. The year 2006 saw a series of joint actions organized by KoA and its American counterpart, the Alliance for Responsible Trade (ART).3 KoA sent protest delegations to Washington, DC, Seattle, and Montana where the FTA negotiations were held (Via Campensina, 2007). The Framing of the KORUS-Free Trade Agreement Framing theory (Snow and Benford, 1988, 1992; Snow, 2007) brings attention to the ideological and cultural lenses that protagonists use in order to make sense of their reality. The lens is a

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frame, an interpretive schema. The discourse of the Korean ANGM can be deconstructed by using three types of frames (diagnostic, prognostic, and master frames) as analytical tools. Diagnostic framing is the identication of a problem and its cause, while prognostic framing provides solutions to the problem (Snow and Benford, 1988). Among many frames that may constitute a movement ideology, a master frame is the most crucial frame in the sense that all other frames must be compatible with and subordinated to the master frame. My analysis of the movements discourse shows that the loss of Korean national sovereignty was perceived to be the source of all adverse outcomes of the FTA. To reverse the ill-fated course, the Korean ANGM prescribed the assertion of Korean national sovereignty as the solution. The anti-FTA coalition argued that KORUS-FTA would adversely affect Korean farmers while beneting big agribusiness in the USA. According to the DLP, Koreas small family farms cannot compete on price terms with American agribusiness (DLP, 2007). The import of cheap US agricultural products would destroy the livelihoods of many thousands of Korean farmers. Thus, the Korean movement argued that, with the collapse of Koreas agricultural sector, the KORUS-FTA would result in a mass migration of farmers into already densely populated urban areas, and into manufacturing industries and service sectors, putting a downward pressure on wages, job security, and working conditions. With the liberalization of the labor market, the FTA would also create more non-standard forms of work (part-time, seasonal, and contract work). According to Young-Koo Heo, Vice President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), 56% of Korean workers hold non-standard forms of employment and they receive less than half of full-time workers income (Gruenberg, 2007). He voiced his concern that the KORUS-FTA would further exploit irregular workers, given that labor provisions in most FTAs are either non-existent or lacking a strong enforcement mechanisms (Hankyoreh, 2007). The anti-FTA movement also argued that the FTAs intellectual property rights clause would undermine peoples right to health by making drugs less affordable (Ahn, 2007). Furthermore, it would pose a threat to public services (health care, education, water, electricity, etc.) as they would come under pressure from transnational corporations (TNCs) to be privatized. With the investor-to-state lawsuits clause4 enshrined in KORUS-FTA, any national regulations, from environmental protection standards to culture, would be subject to removal if they were deemed to interfere with the free movement of capital. The Korean coalition cited the scrapping of the screen quota system as an example of US cultural imperialism. As part of the KORUS-FTA negotiations, the Korean government relaxed its protectionist cultural policy by reducing the screen quota for domestic movies (DLP, 2007). The Korean movement argued that this would remove protection on local Korean content in the cultural industry (KDLP, 2006). This frame, the loss of national sovereignty, enjoyed broad popularity among diverse constituencies in Korea. Indeed, the loss of national sovereignty to transnational capital is a common theme found in most anti-FTA movements around the world. However, the argument of national sovereignty can take on nationalistic undertones if it focuses exclusively on US-based transnational capital while ignoring the role of domestic capital. In other words, the anti-FTA discourse loses its potentially anti-capitalist meaning and retranslates into Korea as a US colony. This was how the Korean anti-FTA movement interpreted the KORUS-FTA in that it equated the FTA with US colonization of Korea. Thus, the nation was the master frame that the Korean movement used in order to bring all FTA-related social issues under the rubric of national sovereignty. Perceived social problems such as the destruction of Korean agriculture and worsening labor conditions were diagnosed as likely consequences of the loss of Korean economic

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sovereignty. Similarly, the scrapping of the domestic screen quota system and the likely decline of Korean cultural industries were seen as likely consequences of the loss of Korean cultural sovereignty. The Politics of Nationalism The Korean anti-FTA movement did not develop a counter-hegemonic discourse that was clearly distinguishable from the nationalist discourse of the Korean government. It framed the FTA not in terms of conicting class interests between capital and labor but in terms of conicting national interests between the US and South Korea. The patriotic and nationalist discourse (Chae, 2007a, p. 6) in the Korean movement failed to challenge the logic of capitalism (prot maximization via capital mobility). Korean government and capital argued that the Korean economy would face a crisis due to Chinas growing share in international export markets unless Korea nds a way to enhance its competitiveness. By presenting FTAs as a panacea to these competitive challenges, the Roh Mu-Hyon administration argued that the KORUS-FTA would raise Koreas competitive` -vis China and Japan. This policy gained enthusiastic support from the business comness vis-a munity and its political representatives. For instance, Park Keun Hye, leader of the conservative Hannaradang party, said, the Presidents decision (to sign an FTA with the US) should be highly appreciated from the perspective of national interests (Chae, 2007a, p. 5). Lee Myung Bak, the former Seoul mayor, said, If we think about the future of our nation, market liberalization is inevitable (Chae, 2007a, p. 5). Accordingly, the government portrayed the KoAs attempt to delay the FTA as economic sabotage that would bring down the national economy (Haebang, 2006). Thus, to legitimize the FTA deal, its supporters frequently resorted to the frames of national interests, competitiveness, Koreas rivals, and Korean spirits. Certain sections of the Korean political elite were, however, opposed to the KORUS-FTA, though they also defended their position in the name of Korean nation. For instance, Rep. Chun Jung-bae, who went on hunger strike over the issue, accused President Roh of handing Koreas economic sovereignty to the U.S. on a platter (Chosun, 2007b). The former presidential secretary for economic affairs framed KORUS-FTA as a second Eulsa treaty, in reference to a deal that cost Korea its independence in 1905 (Chosun, 2006a). Sangji University President Kim Sung-Hoon, a former minister of agriculture and forestry, denounced KORUS-FTA, arguing that it would reduce Korea to a 51st state (Chosun, 2006a). Thus, like the proponents of KORUSFTA, the opponents also framed the KORUS-FTA in terms of what is best for the interest of the Korean nation (Chae, 2006). Against this political backdrop, the anti-FTA movement failed to distance its position from the hegemonic discourse of the elite. A critical analysis of speeches and documents produced by anti-FTA groups and individuals reveals that the movement did not seek to dispel Korean nationalism but rather strengthened it (Chae, 2007b). This point can be illustrated by the following excerpts from ofcial statements made by leading gures in the anti-FTA coalition. For instance, echoing the sentiment of the anti-FTA faction in the Korean National Assembly, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) proclaimed: The second day of April, the day when FTA was signed, will be recorded as the second most shameful day after the day of Japans annexation of Korea (Chae, 2007a, p. 6). Indeed, most groups in the anti-FTA movement opposed KORUS-FTA on the ground that the FTA would subjugate Koreas economy to the US (Haebang, 2006). As an IT labor union protest letter to the US Department of Defense and the Whitehouse argued:

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We are aware that the Korean government has been manipulated by the U.S. government and has therefore been adhering to U.S. foreign policy. However, the majority of Koreans are resisting the Americanization of Korea in the name of globalization. (Chosun, 2006a)

However, by promoting the idea that Korea was a victim of US imperialism, the anti-FTA movement ignored the active involvement and motives on the part of the Korean state and capital. The nationalistic framing of the FTA issue was based on a simplistic dualism of the imperialist core versus dependent peripheries. Korean economic nationalism has very likely played a role in making the anti-FTA coalition shy away from criticizing Korean capitals pursuit of prot maximization at home and abroad. An example illustrating this tendency is the movements uncritical attitude toward Koreas FTA with ASEAN, through which Korean capital sought greater market opportunities for auto, iron, and chemical production (Newscham, 2006). The Korean movement has not raised concerns over potential impacts of the KoreaASEAN FTA, such as the adverse impacts that the more competitive Korean capital might have on small and medium enterprises in the ASEAN area. This silence can be interpreted as tacit endorsement of Korean capitals prot seeking efforts abroad. A similarly uncritical attitude was taken towards the inter-Korea summit of 2007, and betrays the movements lack of class analysis of neoliberal globalization. Most organizations in the antiFTA coalition welcomed the North South summit of 2007 as a positive development toward a peaceful reunication. The summit included a broad plan to extend tax-free export processing zones in Paju and Gaesong where South Korean capital can exploit cheap North Korean labor. While ignoring this anti-labor aspect of the development plan, the anti-FTA movement wholeheartedly embraced the inter-Korea summit (Haebang, 2007). For example, both the Democratic Labor Party and the Socialist Party viewed the proposed North South economic cooperation in a positive light, despite their mild criticisms of certain aspects (not laborrelated) of the summit (Hanguksahoedang, 2007; Newscham, 2007b). It should be noted that since the late 1980s, the two political camps, National Liberation (NL) and Peoples Democracy (PD), have dominated the politics of social movements in South Korea (see Choi, 1991; Park 2005, 2008). The division into these two camps stems from varying positions on North Korea, the nature of the Korean economy, and electoral tactics. The NL line (also known as Jusapa) believes that South Korea suffers from the contradictions stemming from its national subjugation to the USA (Park, 2007, p. 337), and accordingly emphasizes the need to focus on a united national struggle against US imperialism. In contrast, the PD line, critical of the NLs approach to North Korea and its nationalism, focuses on anti-capitalist struggle and class-based politics. Despite its proclaimed socialist perspective, however, the PD has failed to develop an anti-capitalist discourse to counter the nationalism prevalent in the Korean ANGM. Given the fact that the leadership of KCTU and DLP consist of radical nationalists under the inuence of NL,5 it is not surprising that the leadership of the anti-FTA coalition, in which KCTU and DLP play a leading role, takes a nationalist stance on FTAs.6

Prognostic Frames and the Limits of the Anti-Globalization Movement in Korea The Korean ANGM demanded that any trade agreements must be achieved on the basis of the participation of civil society, in order to ensure democracy, transparency, and accountability. In this vein, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (the major organization in the anti-FTA coalition) asked the Korean government to conduct adequate consultations with labor unions and civil society groups in order to make a full assessment of the economic and social

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impact of the FTA on worker rights, public services, cultural diversity, and food security (Lee, 2007). It is doubtful, however, whether the call for democratic inputs from civil society can be a genuine solution. In the event of irreconcilable conicts of interests, the question of who makes the nal decision is unclear. For example, it is unlikely that the Korean Entrepreneurs Association (a civil society group), which argues for the potential benets of FTAs, will act as a neutral mediator between the conicting accounts of the FTA. Another salient prognostic frame is the adoption of selective protectionism for certain economic sectors (e.g. the agricultural sector) and the exclusion of certain public services from trade negotiations. The KCTU, for instance, argues that certain public services such as health and education are human rights and should remain as public goods (Lee, 2007). It is not clear though to what extent the movement will allow nature (land, water, and other natural resources) to be privatized and thus subject to prot-making. The contestation over the boundaries of the commons can place the movement in a position that directly challenges the prerogatives of capitalism. When the right to private property interferes with human rights (ensured by the public goods), how should this conict between opposing values and interests be resolved? The movement ultimately accepts the existing polity as the mechanism through which to resolve conicting values and class interests. The KCTU seeks resolution through a tripartite forum (state labor capital) in which the state ostensibly acts as a neutral mediator. The KCTU emphasizes some familiar though vague features of social democracy: a better distribution of wealth through universal welfare measures and democratic industrial relations (Lee, 2007). The ANGM in general has emphasized left-Keynesianism, social democracy, and welfare state capitalism as an alternative to neoliberal globalization. But how then can we make sense of the failed attempts by a number of social democratic governments in Europe to realize distributive justice? How do we reckon with the fact that a number of social democratic governments in Europe were the ones who implemented neoliberal austerity measures in the end? Furthermore, it is questionable how Korea can achieve independent and sustainable development when the growth of the economy has been highly export-dependent. The failure to call for a radical restructuring of the Korean economy ultimately undermines the persuasive power of the anti-FTA movement. What does sustainable development mean when the auto and electronic industries have formed the engine of export-led growth in Korea? The vague vision at the heart of the anti-FTA movement with its defensive position on global trade clearly comes across as a major weakness. At the center of the movements prognostic frames, the state is projected as an ethical guardian responsible for economic justice and the democratic and independent development of Korea. The solution offered, however, is not a viable alternative in the sense that it fails to address several key issues. First, it fails to provide the mechanisms through which conicting values and norms should be resolved. Secondly, it fails to provide a clear vision of how Koreas export-dependent economy should be altered in order to foster a sustainable but not autarchic development. Thirdly, it fails to answer how Korea should withstand capital ight and other hostile responses from the global economy if Korea adopts an anti-neoliberal and independent path. In other words, what must be a concrete alternative trade model that Korea should actively foster? Unfortunately, all of these important issues have been neglected in the debates over FTAs. Ultimately, the movements master frame (national sovereignty) has shaped not only the diagnostic frame (FTAs mean the loss of Korean national sovereignty) but also the key prognostic frame (a full assertion of state sovereignty via state capitalism). The primacy of the nation in

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the discourse of FTAs constrains debates surrounding alternatives to neoliberalism through effectively naturalizing capitalism and the nation-state as the main mechanisms of economic growth and distribution. Conclusion: From Resistance to Alternative Politics This article has critically examined the frames of FTAs adopted by the Korean ANGM. In my view, the weakness of the Korean ANGM is not its lack of transnationalism. On the contrary, the Korean ANGM has been very active in forging and participating in transnational solidarity networks. Rather, as I have argued, the key weakness of the ANGM has been that its leading organizations strategically prioritize the anti-US imperialist struggle at the expense of a class analysis of the global economy and the role of the Korean state within it. The national sovereignty master frame posits the nation-state as a transformative agent but fails to provide any alternative development project with concrete steps to overcome negative reactions from the global economic forces. With the lack of an alternative vision, the ANGMs defensive and nationalist framing becomes indistinguishable from the hegemonic discourse of the Korean elite on the nation and the need to safeguard national interests. Aside from Third World economic nationalism, directionless activism (Spannos, 2008) or the prominence of negativity (i.e., the movement identity primarily based on the negation of neoliberalism) (Guo danian, 2005) is a problem that plagues anti-FTA movements around the world. Most ANGM organizations are vague about their vision of future society and tend to repeat what they are against but are less vocal about alternatives. Opposition to FTAs might be a base of unity among various social sectors but it is hardly an ideal to which the antineoliberal globalization movement should aspire as a vision of a future society. The lack of an explicit anti-capitalist message and the predominance of Third World economic nationalism in the ANGMs discourse of FTAs are very likely to foster the idea that preserving the present state of society is less evil (Marx, 1847, p. 279) and that it is better to be exploited by ones fellow-countrymen than by foreigners (ibid.). Even when the Korean movement takes an anti-protectionist posture, the very lack of alternative trade frameworks makes them unable to arrive at anything better than the continuation of the status quo (Engels, 1847, p. 282). To overcome this shortcoming of the nationalistic framing of FTA, the ANGM in Korea and its counterparts around the globe should transcend the discourse of nationalism and develop an alternative framing of FTAs. The Korean ANGM should forge a close link with its counterparts around the word in order to foster debates on alternatives to the capitalist global trading system. Progressive forces around the world should go beyond issuing joint statements based on the lowest common denominator (i.e. no FTA!) and forge a more enduring network of transnational strategizing. In order to foster alternative framing efforts, it is crucial that there be more discussions and debates on alternatives to prot-oriented trade agreements. For instance, current examples of alternative proposals such as the Peoples Trade Agreement (PTA) and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA)7 should be critically examined in order to learn from the experiences of countries that are actually experimenting with trade agreements based on non-capitalist principles: complementarity (rather than competition), solidarity (instead of domination), cooperation (not exploitation), and respect for sovereignty (instead of corporate rights and rule) (James, 2004; Tockman, 2006). Under these principles, member countries exchange human (doctors, nurses, agro-scientists) and natural resources (oil and natural gas) for the purpose of improving the living standards of the poor and marginalized. They share

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intellectual, nancial, and cultural resources through joint seed banks, a pro-indigenous cultural TV channel (Telesur), and the Bank of ALBA (James, 2005; Hattingh, 2008). As ALBA vindicates, a number of communities and countries around the globe are actively seeking alternative trade and economic models, rather than accepting capitalist principles of global trade (corporate rights and prot maximization). Although there are a number of alternatives suggested by many activists from all corners of the world, there is still the lack of synergy to bring those concrete proposals together or to disseminate them to the public. Concrete proposals both within the framework of regulated capitalism as well as anti-capitalism exist, and it is high time that both scholars and activists around the world make serious efforts to assess those alternatives.

1 Although there are differences between the Korean ANGM and the Korean anti-FTA movement, they are used interchangeably throughout this paper for the following reasons. Although the anti-FTA movement has more broad constituencies and supporter milieus, the key organizational forces that make up the anti-FTA coalition greatly overlap with the major actors that are the driving force behind the anti-globalization movement in South Korea. The key groups in the Korean ANGM are: the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the nnong), the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), and the Korean Peoples Korean Framers Association (Cho ndae), the National Coalition for Democracy (Cho ngukyo nhap), various federations of Alliance (Minjung yo n and the 21st Chindaeryo n), Peoples Solidarity for Social Progress student unions (e.g., Hanchongnyo ndae), and the Power of the Working Class (Nodongjau i him). (Sahoejinboyo Mercosur is a regional trade bloc in Latin America. Its member countries include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Members of ART (Alliance for Responsible Trade) organizations include: the American Federation of LaborCongress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, the Union of Needle Trades, the Industrial and Textile Employees, the United Brotherhood of Teamsters, among others. It enables transnational corporations to le lawsuits against the state for the loss of anticipated future prots if governments policies are regarded as interference to free competition in the market. See Park (2007) for a history of the DLP and the KCTU. To broaden the range of alternative politics, it is necessary to critique the nationalist politics of NL, which dominates most sectors of social movements. The internal schism in the DLP, especially over nationalism and the pro-North Korean stance, led to a split of the party, creating the Progressive New Party (PNP) in 2008. This split prompted a debate in the KCTU over its exclusive support for DLP as the pro-PD faction in KCTU threatened to defect from the DLP (Y.-W. Lee, 2008). In the general election of April 2008, both the DLP and the PNP did poorly, garnering only about 8.5% of the votes in total, as many radical left groups, critical of both the DLP and the PNP, decided not to participate. Despite this electoral failure, the split may provide an opportunity for socialist or anti-capitalist activists to emerge as an independent political force. The hegemonic leadership of the nationalist NL-led DLP has now ended, in the face of growing criticism from the left factions in Korean ANGM, which have included the PNP, the Korean Socialist Party, the Power of the Working Class, Liberation & Solidarity ndae), the Socialist Workers League (sahoejuu i nodongja yo nhap), and the National Political (haebang yo nguk nodongja cho ngchi hyo bu ihoe). It must, however, be acknowledged that Korean Council of Workers (cho activists face tremendous political difculty in their endeavor to push their alternatives due to the anti-communist National Security Law (NSL) that persecutes leftists. Initially, ALBA consisted of only two member states: Venezuela and Cuba. At present, ALBA has four full member states (Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) and four observer states (Ecuador, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, and St. Kitts) (Hattingh, 2008).

2 3

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Abelmann, N. (1996) Echoes of the Past, Epics of Dissent: A South Korean Social Movement (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).

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Mi Park is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. She is author of Democracy and Social Change: A History of South Korean Student Movements, 1980 2000 (Peter Lang, 2008).

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