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wages and lay off 650 of them. The firm rejected a collective bargain while it sued 20 union leaders for damages, putting their homes under provisional seizures, and filed criminal charges against them to cause distress to the striking workers. On October 1, arrest warrants were issued for six union leaders from Federation of Korean Metal Workers Trading Unions and its Hanjin Heavy Industry branch, including Kim Ju-ik, the branch leader. Kim had been on a sit-in protest, alone on Crane No. 85 35m (115 ft) above the ground. Urging the company to come out to the negotiation table, his lonely strife lasted for 129 days but met with no response. Then on October 17, after leaving a note asking his colleagues to continue the fight, he took his own life in protest of the capitalist oppression on workers' rights. He was followed by Kwak Jae-gyu, who had been deeply distressed by Kim's death, leaping at Dock No. 4 near the crane to his death on October 30, 3:50 p.m.
Years after, on January 10, 2011, the company announced dismissal of more than 400 workers after completing a shipyard in Subic, Philippines where payroll costs are cheaper. It was a breach of the agreement achieved through the deaths of two workers in 2002. Even though the company cited managerial difficulties as the pretext for the massive layout, its executives enjoyed stock dividends worth 17.4 billion KRW ($14.7 million) the very next day after the layoff. In protest of such a outrageous conduct, Kim Jin-suk has gone on another sit-in on the same crane. She has been communicating with Korean citizens across the country via her smart phone and Twitter, gaining sympathy from the society. On June 11, 2011, hundreds of citizens, unaffiliated with any union, voluntarily gathered and came to Busan to show their support for Kim. The protest has gained momentum and became today's most visible civil movement in Korea, with tens of thousands of participants joining in protest of the capitalist oppression of workers' rights and the brutal "labor flexibility". It is what we call "Hope Bus." On June 27, the company announced a new agreement, saying the strike is officially over, but it was signed single-handed by the company's current union leader and wasn't agreed upon by the workers'. Still, the company went on to pull out the workers sitting in from the shipyard, except those on the crane. At the moment, Kim Jin-suk has been on the Crane for more than 265 days, and four workers, who went up to the middle of the crane tower to guard her, have been sitting in for about 90 days.
Kim Jinsuk has change the world through her struggle on the crane
The Story of the Hope Bus
The Story of the Hope Bus Kim Jinsuk was truly an attractive heroine. Despite being face with extreme circumstances up on top of that 35 meter crane, she kept in good spirits with a warm heart, and was always filled with gratitude. Thinking of her brave deeds, I realized that she went up to the crane prepared to face death.
On June 17, when it was announced that state force would be mobilized to suppress the protest, it appeared to me that she could really die. I stayed up all night with friends sending tweets to the foreign news with a desperate heart. Many people voluntarily translation the news of the suppression and her of Kim Jinsuk’s struggle. As a result, the scene of hired thugs beating up worker4s was broadcasted by the foreign media. As a result, the mobilization of force, which might have cost Kim Jinsuk her life, was discontinued.
Kim Jinsuk hangs perpetually in the balance between life and death. Her story could have ended in tragedy. There was a dramatic turn of events, however, when one poet proposed the Hope Bus. Kim Jinsuk’s story became the story of countless common but beautiful citizens who hoped to protect her while she carried out her lonely struggle on the crane.
Climbing Over the Wall.\
On June 11, 2011, over 700 citizens scrambled over the wall at the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction’s Young-do shipbuilding yard, despite it being completely blocked off by police and hired thugs. To do so, they climbed rope ladders lowered down to them by Hanjin union members. They had not been ordered to do so by any one, but instead gathered voluntarily with the help of twitter. The actress Kim Yeojin, who came to know Kim Jinsuk through Twitter, was among the participants.
Kim Yeojin came directly from finishing the shooting of a drama series to express her support for Kim Jinsuk and appealed to Hanjin Chairman Cho Namho's conscience to guarantee her safety.
Actress Kim Yeojin's appeals moved the hearts of many people. All those people climbed over the walls so they could hold up signs which read, “WE LOVE YOU."
Hundreds of people raised their arms and made the shape of hearts under Crane #85. They painted a large picture with the words "Humans are flowers", and hung the picture on crane along with a picture of the crane transformed into a robot. They danced and played games at the shipyard.
That day, for the first time in a long while, Kim Jinsuk laughed.
For most of her life, Kim Jinsuk could not make decisions about her life on her own. She was trampled down by the capitalist system. Every day she fought with clenched teeth to resist becoming accustomed to being downtrodden. That day she commented, “Eventually the day like today do come after all.” That was the best day of her life, she said. And she said that after that day she knew she would be able to come off of the crane alive, despite the fact that she had been prepared to die when she first went up. The volunteer supporters spent the whole night at Young-do shipyard came out the next day together with the union members.
A burly union member who one would not have thought could cry, burst into tears while hugging one of the supporters.
That day came Kim Yeojin was arrested by the police. So far over 300 citizens have received summons related to charges of breaking and entering and violations of the protest law. Fighting the Police On July 9, over ten thousand people arrived at Young-do. At first, it didn’t seem possible that 185 buses would arrive. It was a miracle! With the Hope Bus story being tweeted and retweeted, people across the country rose up in a nationwide movement to meeting Kim Jinsuk. Over 10,000 citizens marched towards Busan Grand Bridge. The police blocked the participants who were on their way to Crane #85 at Young-do Hanjin shipyard.
93 squads of a total of some 7000 police were mobilized to protect this one private company. The police blasted the demonstrators who refused to disburse with water cannons, the water laced with liquid tear gas. The police, armed with anti-terror equipment, pushed the demonstrators back with their shields. The demonstrators were barehanded. Those who got behind the police lines were arrested.
Fighting the Mainstream Media It was a staggering blow when I took a casual glance at the articles that came out after the first round Hope Bus events. The articles were in summary form with title like, “Rioters from third party labor groups illegally enter shipyard and clash with police and hired forces. Some wounded." The citizens I had seen were normal people who helped one another when help was needed. They had rallied to help Kim Jinsuk.
Before the second Hope Bus took off on June 27, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Union leadership secretly signed a unilateral agreement with the Hanjin management, all the while preventing ordinary union members from entering the meeting location.
Based on one press release sent by E-mail, all the TV news stations and newspapers reported that," the Hanjin labor dispute was dramatically resolved." It was a moment that seemed to deliver a death sentence to the struggle. Directly after these reports, the Hanjin management of the company proudly mobilized hired private security forces who promptly cleared the shipyard of the union members who had been conducting a sit-in protest there. As soon as they got word of the situation, many people active on Tweeter began sending the news to the foreign press, revealing the truth. Al Jazeera was the first to report that, "Hanjin and the union have finally reached a settlement, but have one so without the consent of the membership.”
The Hanjin management succeeded in removing all protesting union members from the shipyard, leaving only Kim Jinsuk and a few workers on crane no. 85. Then they announced that the strike over. They failed, however, to bring Kim Jinsuk down from the crane. This was because common citizens gathered and blocked this from happening. Eventually, word got out that the agreement between the union and management was illegitimate. In the wake of these incidents solidarity for Kim Jinsuk grew even stronger. More than 10,000 citizens visited Busan during the second Hope Bus.
The second Hope Bus involved peaceful protest. One article written by a conservative reporter, described the rally as a riotous assembly at which 70 steel pipes and 20 wooden logs were discovered. Given the doubtful content of this report, I checked with the policy myself and learned that these items had nothing to do with the protesters. Intentionally distorted reports like this one have continued to come out.
The third Hope Bus was held. This time, there was a head-on confrontation between the police and demonstrators. Security check points reminiscent of martial law were all around. But the protesters rallied peacefully. Approximately 15,000 people gathered and were able to break through multiple layers of police lines. Finally, after having been negatively biased, the press reported neutrally.
And then, after several weeks, the reporting took a positive turn. Some conscientious KBS TV producers broadcasted an investigative documentary about the battle at the Hanjin shipyard.
The KBS program uncovered that Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction had carried out mass layoffs despite the fact that there was no legitimate financial or managerial reason for doing so. It also included an image of the company president fumbling while he tried to explain why Hanjin had paid 17.4 billion Won in dividends to major shareholders at the same time the layoffs were going on. This was the first time the details of the unjust layoffs were aired on Korean TV. The laid off union members and their supporters applauded the show.
In meantime, many people spontaneously translated the news and sent it on tweeter and by email to the foreign press. Their endeavors finally came to fruition. Starting with Aljazeera the foreign press, including Le Monde, BBC and CNN picked up the story of the protest on the 35-meter-high shipyard crane. Global solidarity was at last accomplished.
The Hanjin problem received great attention from the public, the foreign press and the local media. Three Hope Bus events were successful. This attention began to gain influence in politic circles until finally even the ruling party had to react.
At last, on August 18 Cho Namho, Chairman of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction was called to appear at a hearing before the National Assembly. This was the first time in 14 years that the National Assembly summoned a chairman of one of Korea’s powerful familyowned conglomerates (Chaebols). During the 10 hour hearing, the National Assembly recognized the illegitimacy of the layoffs at the shipyard. Cho Nam-ho offered an apology for the late Kim Jooik, Kwahk Jaegyu and Park Changsoo who died at Hanjin shipyard. The apology came 8 years after their deaths. In this way, the world was changed.
Break through the Matrix
In the end, the story of the crane #85 that I have come to know is not a political story. It is a story about life and about human beings. It is a story about a female worker who climbed a high shipyard crane so as to keep a promise she made in the face of a fellow workers’ death.
It is also a story about an actress who rushed to the spot beneath the crane in a desperate attempt to save that female workers’ life. And, it is a story about tens of thousands of nameless and faceless citizens who voluntarily chose to love although nobody told them to. This will to protect others has broken through the dense matrix of this society. For this reason, the story of the Hope Bus is a story of courage and humanity—a love story.
But, this movie is not over yet. Kim Jinsuk is still up on the 35-meter-high crane #85. The Hanjin management still refused to back down. The right wing press and Busan City still oppose the Hope Bus, fearing it will be disgrace during the 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). But the best film showing at the Busan International Film Festival, will be right here at the Hanjin Young-do shipyard. That’s right. That move is still going on right here. Let me make a suggestion, then. You movie goers, camera people, filmmakers. Why don’t all of you come here and help me complete this living breathing screenplay.
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