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Hyeon-ock) I. Introduction
This is an introductory article to promote an understanding of the general problems of cultural conflicts and integration in a certain socio-cultural context. This article will first consider general arguments on culture, investigate the relation between arguments on culture and cultural conflicts, and discuss the relation between cultural conflicts and cultural integration. In its conclusion this article will instead propose a question: how could cultural integration be made possible? When interpreted in a broad sense, both academic and practical, culture has been traditionally understood as a sort of life style. According to this view, a culture of a specific region can be defined as a unique and original life style that reflects the dynamics and complexity of a community in the region. A specific culture, however, is formed through the specific historical experiences and the unique cultural context of a community, whether formed spontaneously or formed by pressure from outside. Is it then possible to combine the society and the culture of a region into one concept or category? In order to answer this question, the differences and the similarities of cultures should be considered first. Different cultures around the world have characteristics that are both different from and similar to each other. If one focuses on the life style of a people in a specific region, many ruptures and differences can be seen to exist in their specific culture. A culture, here, is an entity that has diverse and complex characteristics, shares certain common elements with other cultures and changes itself in a flexible manner according to the time and context. Under the current rapidly changing political and economic situation, the cultures around the world are expected to accelerate their globalization and localization. Accordingly, there will be formed an environment where promoted intellectual efforts are made to explain how the culture of a region is formed, transformed, and interpreted based on the actual daily, specific reality. In this context, it can be said that we need to come to a perspective with which we can understand the cultural peculiarities and meanings embedded in the daily life of a cultural community, as well as to be equipped with the theoretical and practical tools.
A Critical Investigation of Cultural Theory and the Issue of the Cultural Conflict.
Various arguments have been made concerning culture in general. It seems now quite difficult or almost impossible to deal with culture itself as a general, fixed entity, as it has been widely recognized that a culture always changes in relation with complicated events and situations. Furthermore, there are certain qualitative differences between normative, ethical messages and a strategic utterance at the practical level. If one views culture as a fixed entity, or simplifies the cultural dynamics as “culture moves from the center to the marginal,” through a dichotomy that puts one’s own culture at the center and the other’s in the marginal, the clashes and tensions between cultures and the dynamic interactions between cultures, such as cultural conflicts, can be easily overlooked. Examples can be seen in social situations of the moment in China, Japan, and Korea. In the case of China, the Sinocentrism and the Han-Barbarians structure has been set forth for the cultural integration in the process of its modernization, mainly through economic development. Many Chinese films have been produced and distributed with the subtle intention of strengthening the pride in the Chinese people of their Chinese identity and culture. “Eat, Drink, Man and Woman 2” is a good example of this kind of movie, where can be observed a symbolizing process of the nationalist message, advocating that Hong Kong and Taiwan should be unified with China, despite their geographical and cultural differences, through Chinese food. In this film is implied the strong feeling of pride of Sinocentrism and that Chinese people, wherever they live around the world, should not forget their cultural identity and that China should be the center of the world. Japan has been showing a consistent, passive attitude in that it has built mutually cooperative relations with other countries following its strategy and goal of modernization, “out of Asia, into Europe (脫亞入歐).” Japan’s tepidness toward the establishment of an economic cooperative system among East Asian countries also demonstrates that Japan holds a very one-directional and exclusive view on the matter, concerned only with its own interest, but not with equal, cooperative relations with other Asian countries. Korea is also suspicious of its own nationalist inclination and a tendency that emphasizes an exclusive competitive spirit for its national development, not a spirit of
cultural hybridity. Korea, indeed, is well-known as a country that puts its own interest before everything in establishing cooperative relations with other countries. In this context, serious consideration should be paid to a remark that says, “Korea is so concerned and obsessed with its own problems, it does not show any interest in the problems of the neighboring countries and cannot play a role in solving them” (Kim Sangwoo, May 9, 2002). We are now required to reflect on our own conduct, whether we have been rather passive in understanding and respecting others’ cultures, and, at the same time, have put forth an effort to apply directly-imported experiences to solve cultural conflicts. We should also ask ourselves whether we are confronting a cultural reality that stipulates that everyone is devoted to building and maintaining a strong wall to protect each culture. The existing perceptions and arguments on culture, in most cases, tended to be based on ethnocentric linguistic dogmatism without a deep introspection into the internal view of the specific historical experience and cultural environment of a specific culture (Kim Gwangeok 1998; Han Kyeonggu 1997). These arguments divided the world, according to a dichotomy, into the center and the marginal, the dominant and the subordinate, the high and the low, or the superior and the inferior; categorized all cultural elements through a binary equivalence; and, consequently, fossilized culture itself, ignoring the internal diversity of a culture and its flexibility and variableness. Moreover, many arguments were based on rather subjective interpretations and assumptions without enough empirical verification, and thus led to unscientific and illogical arguments on cultural values and worldviews, wanting the concrete contents of a culture (refer to Kim Gwangeok 1998). It is very dangerous to follow the simplified logic that divides the world according to a binary structure. In numerous societies around the world, various cultures are being practiced in either similar or different forms. Some of the similar features that can be found in common in different nations and societies across the world are the notions and practices of the following matters: courtesy to human beings, the importance of family, respect for honor, the mixture of the normal and abnormal, the definition and standard for being human, the world order, the movement of the universe, and the destiny of human beings. What is required now is to identify the concrete patterns and meanings of those notions and practices, or how those matters are perceived and practiced in a specific social and cultural context. In one word, the existing theories on culture can be evaluated as lacking concreteness, as the substance of culture is ambiguous. A culture of a specific region is
a cultural entity that holds concrete notions on and practices of life, rather than a spatial or geographical entity. We cannot define a culture simply by drawing lines on a map. It is very important to recognize that a cultural substance is not grasped through the combination of the spatial concept and some cultural terms, without a deep introspection concerning the people and their cultural practices. There has been an assumption that cultural integration in a region could be achieved after long-term geographical unification. For a cultural integration, however, the internal conflicts and tensions in a culture should be examined first. To argue that there have been consistent positive contacts between two cultures in a geographically unified region is likely to result in an over- simplified approach to characteristics and meanings of culture. Through our historical experiences, we should be able to observe that there have been many cases where the internal conflicts caused by cultural clashes became obstacles to understanding each other’s culture and establishing cultural integration. Empirical research on the causes and effects of cultural conflict should be undertaken also in order to test this observation. Cultural integration between heterogeneous cultures should be based on cultural exchanges between them over a long period of time. It should also be noted that the processes of cultural exchange varies according to each country or ethnic group’s historical experience, both in cultural and social aspects. The differences in the historical experiences and cultural environments of different nations or societies indicate differences not only in their systems and institutions, but also in their customs and their views on the world and the nation. We should be cautious of those attitudes and arguments that hang on the “appellation” of a specific culture based on subjective ideas and emotions without any concrete proof to explain the cultural differences. We should be also careful not to fall into the error of cultural determinism. In order to avoid unrefined cultural determinism, we need to focus on cultural heterogeneity not cultural homogeneity, on the aspect of the cultural conflict not of the cultural harmony and stability. Cultural integration can be made possible when the cultural heterogeneity and conflicts are explained through our understanding of the specific peculiarities and meanings of a culture in the social and cultural context. To stick to the belief that the politics and economic development of a community is determined by culture only implies a certain possibility of fallacy. We should ask ourselves whether we have indulged in a sort of “culturemaking” as we discuss culture. We should raise the question of whether our diverse cultural discourses are ignoring an aspect of the cultural conflict and hiding our worldviews based on our strong faith in cultural homogeneity and different strategies.
Furthermore, the differences between the state and the nation should be addressed. In some cultures, the state and the nation are considered as an identical category, while in others the two are perceived as two strictly different categories. The state is perceived as a political entity that was formed in modern times while, on the other hand, the nation is understood as an “imagined community,” a collection of the common fundamental elements such as language, custom, and religion (Anderson, 1991). We sometimes tend to confuse culture as a matter of images or ideas through which we perceive a specific culture and culture as a whole way of life. Those theories and methodologies that regard the perceptual dimension in the same light with the actual cultural dimension are given great importance in the field of cultural studies. It seems, however, not appropriate to simply identify the perceptions or ideas themselves as culture itself. The system of perceptions or thoughts is an important constituent element of culture, though it is not the sole determinative element of culture. On that account, cultural homogeneity and the community spirit are exposed as false discourses due to their insistence on the original emotion or loyalty for the cultural community. Thus, we should be concerned as to whether the inclination for the tradition or the mutual intimacy amongst the members of a community would guarantee the universality and the infinite expansion of the civil society. When we discuss cultural conflicts or integration, the fundamental question to be raised first is: what is “culture”? Culture has been defined in many ways: some define culture as the field of art; others define it as religion, language and the system of thought; it is also defined as customary institutions and the system of rules. Could each of these concepts of culture be applied separately in explaining a cultural community? Culture has its meanings only to those who practice it. Therefore, it is very dangerous to assume a cultural homogeneity or a cultural community from the fact that some elements or forms are found in common between different cultures (Hong Seokjun, 1998). This is why it is very important to expose the subjects of and the force behind the production of theories on culture. For whom and by whom are all the diverse discourses on culture produced? The arguments and discourses on cultural conflict and cultural integration usually imply a double consciousness of the subject’s fear of alienation and the subject’s pride in the culture. The explanation of, the excuse for, or the resistance against, democracy, political activities, human rights, democracy, economic activities and social ethics mystify the concept of culture so that the others can avoid evaluation through the Western concept, category, or norms of culture. To achieve this aim, the specific historical processes and experiences of each ethnic or
cultural community should be accounted for. To further a concrete discussion on the entity of a culture, we need to pay attention to the various voices of the social movements such as grass-root movements and other NGO movements that have been spreading widely around the world in recent days (Appadurai 2000). It is necessary to examine what roles those voices from social movements and practices take in specific societies, in which context, and what sociocultural implications they have. In other words, we should first acknowledge the coexistence of different cultures in a society, and approach those problems involved in the cultural conflicts and integration of other cultures as a part of a new social movement that purports to restore the cultural rights of different groups of people. This movement, that has aroused a new type of tribalism through establishing a network between different tribes or ethnic groups around the world, can be recognized as a revival of nationalism. What is remarkable here is that this sort of small-scaled social movement can be taken as an alternative to confront the logic and the strategy of globalization and as an attempt to change the center by the marginal. With the recognition of cultural diversity, we should reflect upon whether we have been obsessed with the “search for a cultural prototype” (Hong Seokjun 1998). A culture can be defined differently according to the unique historical experience and the cultural environment of a cultural community. The obsession with a cultural prototype leads us to consider culture as an isolated static entity, to ignore the aspect of cultural conflicts, and to overlook the aspect of the agency of the cultural subject. The agency of the subjects that assume and perform certain identities according to their aims can be explained only through cultural dynamics and practices, not through a certain, putative prototype or innate nature of the subjects. To deal with the issues of cultural conflict and integration, we should leave behind the binary paradigm that divides the world into the center and the marginal. For a more productive understanding of the dialogic relation between cultural conflict and cultural integration, we need to overcome the binary system and train ourselves to view the world in a more objective way. Intellectual reflections upon the internal conflicts of a culture should be made which do not emphasize some “essential” or “truthful” culture that can be found in common between different cultures, reflections that should acknowledge that each culture has its unique peculiarities. Theories of culture should be based on concrete and empirical observations of culture, as well as homogeneity and heterogeneity in each culture. To suggest the belief in a universal culture or cultural integration without considering the dimensions of cultural conflict can raise the essentialist emotions of the subjects who enjoy a specific
culture and can obstruct the establishment of the sense of community or the cultural integration (Geertz, 1998: refer to Chapter 10). A true cultural integration can only be achieved by the group of “people” who are willing to share their diverse and complicated cultures beyond the boundaries of the nation or ethnic groups.
In Conclusion: Is Cultural Integration Possible? When dealing with the issue of cultural conflict and cultural integration in the current situation where globalization is proceeding rapidly, we need to consider one more thing. When we consider the cultural dimension of the globalization (Appadurai 1996; Beynon and Dunkeley 2000; Short 2001), we should acknowledge the globalization of culture is not a process of assimilation as in the globalization of the capital. The economic globalization makes use of a variety of means that can be absorbed into different societies and assimilate the patterns of economic activities and products. These means can be now substituted with different discourses on the sovereignty of the nation, free enterprises, and fundamentalism that reduce the role of the state (refer to Appadurai 1990, 1996). This argument can be applied in the same way when dealing with the problems of cultural conflict and integration around the world. Thus, those elements that have influenced the formation of the cultural environment and historical experience of each country, including the tension and conflict between the state and the civil society, the expansion of markets, the competition between countries, the state’s policy on companies, and the relation between the traditional and the contemporary, can be examined further through concrete and empirical research that also accounts for the socio-cultural context. The citizens of each nation should share the recognition of the necessity of empirical research from a comparative perspective as a part of the specific efforts to search for a paradigm with which we can overcome simplistic optimism and the belief in ‘omnipotent’ culture. Without inspection of the causes of cultural conflict and of the specific measures to cope with conflict, the discussions concerning cultural integration and a cultural community will find themselves unfounded. Culture has come to occupy a core position in our contemporary “knowledge society” or knowledge-based society. Without a good use of culture, a society will be left behind in the sphere of knowledge and information. A thorough and careful understanding of the causes and the contexts of each cultural conflict, along with culture, should precede any discussion of the possibility of cultural integration,
especially when the world is experiencing a rapid globalization and, at the same time, the localization of each society to obtain its cultural originality. Culture does not exist as a united entity. It is the absence of a proper approach to culture, as well as our superficial and ideative tendency in conceptualizing culture, that has led us to understand culture as a united, universal entity. If culture is understood, not as an integrated whole, but as a scene of confrontations, clashes, and conflicts among very heterogeneous elements, studies of culture are naturally led to focus on the theories and practices of the issue of cultural conflict and integration. The cause and the context of the cultural conflict can be grasped better when inspected not only from the internal cultural angle, but also from the external political, economic and social perspectives. In other words, when the unique and peculiar historical experience of a specific region are understood enough, the cause and context of a cultural conflict can be better grasped. For example, a comparative investigation of different experiences, such as the democratization of South Korea, the democratization movement against the military authority in Myanmar, the June Revolution against the dictatorship in the Philippines, and the People’s Power movement that expelled the dictator in Indonesia, can open the possibility of a solidarity between these societies based on their common experiences, and ultimately the possibility of cultural integration. To understand culture is not to understand the harmony and stability between different cultures, but to understand the conflicts and confrontations between them as a whole. In a word, understanding culture means understanding cultural conflict. A culture can be grasped only through the conflicts, confrontations, and tensions among the constituent elements in the culture. The possibility for cultural integration can be expected only when cultural conflict is thoroughly understood, and when systematic and concrete discussions are held on cultural integration. Without these, discussions on cultural integration could well remain as an unfounded discourse. Nepalese Laws Discriminating Women Nepal is a country situated between two big countries India and China. The culture of Nepal is highly dominated by males and male are given much priority in the social life. The laws of Nepal also reflect the same tradition and culture. Nepal was never ruled by any foreign invaders, but there was a family rule of Ranas for 104 years. After the collapse of Rana regime, Nepali people could see democracy for 10 years form 1951 to 1961, then the king declared the multiparty system unsuitable to the country and banned
political parties and took all the powers in his own hand. Two years after, he introduced party-less Panchayat System. This was a kind of direct rule by the king; however there were council of Ministers to advise him. These systems never tried to reform the situation of women in the country, neither they ever thought of empowering women and give them equal status. Many of the laws still reflect the discriminatory provisions, after the re-introduction of multiparty democracy in 1990. The constitution of Nepal, 1990, which is considered to be the outshoot of the popular movement of 1990, has guaranteed equal rights of men and women in Article 11. In 22 Apr 1991, Nepal ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Supreme Court of Nepal has also ruled out many of the discriminatory provisions of the laws. For example, women were not allowed to ask for the partition of patriarchal property unless they reached the age of 35 and remained unmarried. But the Supreme Court had ordered to change such discriminatory laws to the government. The law was changed and the women are now provided with the partition in patriarchal property if she is not properly cared of in the house at any age. But, because of the deep rooted male dominated mentality, the change is not worth welcoming. According to this, such women have to return the remaining property if she gets married.1 But men should not return if they are married. . According to the provision of the Chapter "of Partition" of the Country Code, a married daughter should not be given the patriarchal property.2 Similarly, the law of inheritance (as mentioned in the Chapter "of Inheritance", in Muluki the Country Code) has also put women in least priority. It has further discriminated married and unmarried women. According to the inheritance law of Nepal, the priority to receive the inherited property is as follows i) husband or wife ii) son or widow of the son and unmarried daughter iv) son's son v) unmarried daughter of son's son vi) married daughter of the deceased vii) married daughter's son or unmarried daughter vii) other relatives.3 Not only that, if a women gets inherited property while she was unmarried and if she gets married, she has to return the remaining property to other legal heir, such as the deceased person's son's son etc. Likewise, the provision regarding women's properties has not given full right to property to a woman. According to section 2 of the Chapter "Women's Property", a woma is not permitted to sell out or dispose of her whole property without the consent of her parents if she is unmarried and of her matured son or unmarried daughter. Similarly, this section of the Country Code hinders a woman to marry a person whom
Section 16 of Chapter "of Partition" of the Country Code (Muluki Ain). Ibid, Section 1(a). 3 Section 2 of the Chapter "of Inheritance" of the Country Code
she has already given some fixed assets. If she marries such a person, she has to return such property to her parents or other heir. According to the law of Nepal, a female cannot accept a foreign employment unless she gets permission of her parents and such parents should be attested by the local authority such as Village Development Committee or Municipality.4 Thus we see that women are not provided with the proper property right by the laws of Nepal resulting into making them dependent to the male counterparts. This has been the great impediment to the development of the society. The situation of discrimination against women does not exhaust here. The treatment in everyday life in the villages is far discriminatory. A daughter in law is more likely to be treated badly if she can not give birth to a son. In many cases people prefer son rather than the daughter. Sons are given better education, clothing, food etc while daughter are not taken much care to be provided with these fundamental rights.
Obstacles to achieve human rights in Asia5 Sanjeewa Liyanage, Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC
Some human rights “snap shots” Torture takes place almost every day, in almost every police station in Sri Lanka. The police uses it as the main method of criminal investigation. Torture also takes place routinely at other police stations across Asia, including those in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia etc. It is estimated that over ten thousand people have been made to disappear in Nepal in recent months, by both the military as well as the Maoists; and the disappearances continue. There have been about 30,000 state-acknowledged enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, while the actual figure is estimated by NGOs to be as high as 60,000. But only about 8 persons have been prosecuted for these crimes against humanity so far. In 1965-6, it is estimated that about a million
Section 12 of Foreign Employment Act. A background paper prepared for a presentation at the “Gwangju Human Rights Folk School 2005,” organised by the May 18 Memorial Foundation, Gwangju, Republic of Korea, held at Chonnam National University, Gwangju from 10 – 30 January 2005
people were extra-judicially killed in Indonesia in the pretext of fighting Communism. The Indonesian army has also caused disappearances in Aceh as well as East Timor in more recent times. In North Korea many people died of hunger during the famine in the late 1990s. Due to famine, families were disintegrate and many people fled to China and lived a subservient life such as those women who escaped but were forced to sell their bodies for money. People who were caught as illegal immigrants in China were sent back to DPRK and were tortured upon their return. Many people have faced starvation in Burma (or Myanmar) due to the disruption of food production and the dislocation of farmers off their lands by the military government. In the aftermath of the Tsunami on 26 December 2004, many people have lost their lives, livelihood and shelter. Many children have become orphans and have become vulnerable to child-traffickers and paedophiles. Additionally, women have been raped by security and law enforcement personnel. Young girls from across Asia are trafficked into sex work or sexual slavery-like conditions. Nepalese girls are trafficked into India. Mostly rural Thai girls are trafficked into brothels in the cities and outside Thailand. Many young Chinese girls are trafficked from mainland China (from rural to urban areas) as well as into other Asian countries such as Hong Kong for sex work. Many of these girls do not have any rights. Diseases such as AIDS are contracted easily among most of these young girls, many of whom end up dying at incredibly young ages. Dalits or so-called “untouchables” in India are living in sub-human conditions. They continue to do filthy jobs such as the cleaning of toilets or other designated degrading jobs in line with their caste. Many of these Dalits also become victims of police custodial deaths, women are raped and children are denied education. There are over 180 million such Dalits in India itself today. This is despite India prohibiting untouchability in its 1947 Constitution. The above demonstrates only a fraction of the human rights violations that occur in Asia each and every day. Indeed, most people in Asia are victims of human rights violations and do not enjoy the rights that should be afforded to them. This is despite the notion of human rights being included in many national constitutions and laws. This is despite these countries being party to international human rights treaties. This is despite the
establishment of national human rights institutions in these countries. This is despite enormous numbers of reports written by many international and local NGOs on the human rights situation in these countries. This is despite many “human rights NGOs” directly working in these countries. Despite all this, human rights in many parts of Asia remains an idea on paper only, having not reached the people that they are intended for. This paper will attempt to examine why this is so. Non-implementation of human rights at domestic levels At the domestic level throughout Asia, human rights remain largely a notion with little done to implement them or educate the public as to what they are about. Who then is responsible for changing this situation? It should be the state and state institutions that are responsible for such implementation. Yet if we look into the States, and their relations to human rights, we often find that they are in fact the agents most responsible for violations. How can we expect them to enforce human rights among their societies, when they cannot even achieve this themselves? If we take Sri Lanka as an example, we can see that despite torture being prohibited, its existence is endemic and in many cases the police are the perpetrators of this crime. The police department is a state institution. Its main function is to maintain peace and order and perform the role of criminal investigation. Yet a common practice amongst many of Sri Lanka's police force, is to use different forms of torture when carrying out criminal investigations. Many police officers do not know any other method of investigation, and therefore resort to torture and force suspects to confess to alleged crimes. Wide use of such torture has been an accepted practice in the police force for many years now. Yet despite this, the state has failed to respond properly to this situation and a considerable level of impunity therefore safeguards police. According to the law, police officers should be prosecuted if found guilty of committing torture. The Attorney General's Department or Prosecutor's Department (or Public Prosecutor) must carry out such prosecution. But in Sri Lanka, for example, until very recently, these prosecuting departments did not prosecute responsible police officers who were alleged to have committed torture. Thus we witness the reluctance, and indeed unwillingness, of the prosecuting department to prosecute state officers responsible for human rights violations. In the few cases where the prosecuting department has filed criminal cases against the police officers for allegedly committing torture, those cases drag on for years with little final result. Further, in such cases torture victims become state witnesses
(against the police), and often face harassment and threats by indicted police officers and their agents. The State has no mechanism for witness protection under which such victim-witnesses could be protected. The delay in taking up cases in the courts and the prolonged proceedings that occur also increase the vulnerability of the victim-witnesses in terms of their security. Due to such delays in the court system, judgements are delayed for years. Thus many problems exist in the functioning of judicial institutions. The above illustrates the three key-state institutions in terms of the implementation of human rights. The implementation of rights includes prevention and protection work as well as effective remedies for victims when those rights are violated. Often the provision of effective remedies, judicial and otherwise, themselves become preventive measures for crimes in the future. For example, when police officers or state officials are successfully prosecuted, that in itself sends a direct message to other state officials. Such action then would prevent other officers from committing similar crimes. The case of Gerald Perera [Sri Lanka]6 Gerald was a cook working at the Harbour Authority in Colombo. He was a Catholic and was married to a Buddhist. They had three children; a girl (8), and two boys (5 and 8 months). Gerald arrested on mistaken identity and severely tortured At 12.45 on 3 June 2002, Gerald Mervin Perera was arrested in the presence of his wife by police officers from the Wattala Police Station. The police officers dragged Gerald into their jeep saying, "you are the man we are looking for." Gerald was taken to Wattala Police Station, where several policemen subjected him to torture. Gerald’s hands were tied behind his back; he was blindfolded and hung from a beam before being severely beaten with iron rods and wooden poles for about one hour. The officers then forced him to the ground and began to burn him with lit matches. During the torture Gerald was interrogated about a murder case concerning which he knew nothing about. He was kept at the police station on the night of 3 June, before being released the following day.
Detailed information concerning the case of Mr. Gerald Perera, please go to the AHRC website, where you can find all of the relevant urgent appeals, press releases, statements and press cuttings collected together on one page. This can be found by going to: http://www.ahrchk.net/gerald.
On the morning of his release, Gerald’s brother was informed by Sena Suraweera, the Officer In Charge (O.I.C.) of the Wattala police station, that Gerald had been mistakenly arrested and detained based on erroneous information. Gerald had therefore been subjected to torture as a result of mistaken identity. Gerald hospitalised due to the effects of torture – and falls into a coma Following his release and due to the effects of the torture, Gerald was taken to the Navaloka Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit in Colombo. On arrival he suffered kidney failure and fell into a coma for two weeks. During this time, he was kept alive by a life support system. In a report written by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of Colombo, who had observed Gerald on 16 August, he concluded that Gerald had developed acute renal failure, had lost sensation in a part of his spine, had complete loss of power of the muscles around both shoulder joints and lacked the ability to move both arms. He further noted that there was sensory loss around both elbow joints, that there were blackish scars on the back of Gerald's right hand, rope scars around both wrist and bruising to the left shin. Friends and villagers rally around Gerald and against torture Gerald’s friends from his workplace and from his village collected money for medical expenses. They also held a number of protests against police brutality when Gerald was in a coma. A human rights petition is filed on behalf of Gerald A petition was filed with the Supreme Court on 19 June 2002 by a human rights lawyer working with the AHRC, W.R. Sanjeewa, concerning violations of Gerald Perera’s rights that are guaranteed under of the Constitution of Sri Lanka. The aim was for Gerald Perera to receive adequate reparation for the suffering and injuries that he endured, and for the Attorney General to be given the order to prosecute the perpetrators under Act. No 22 of 1994 of Sri Lanka, which prescribes a minimum 7 years of imprisonment for any act of torture. The perpetrators were accused of having violated the following articles of the Constitution of Sri Lanka: Article 11, which guarantees freedom from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment; Article 13.1 which stipulates that a reason for an arrest must be given; and Article 13.2 which
guarantees the freedom from illegal detention. On 26 June 2002, while Gerald was still unconscious, three Sri Lankan Supreme Court judges heard submissions made on his behalf in a fundamental rights violation case concerning his torture at the hands of the following policemen: Sena Suraweera, the Officer In Charge (O.I.C.) of the police station; Sub Inspector (S.I.) Kosala Navaratne, O.I.C. Crimes: S. I. Suresh Gunaratne: S.I. Weerasinghe: S.I. Renuka; Police Constable (P.C.) Nalin Jayasinghe and P.C. Perera. The Supreme Court awards compensation to Gerald On 4 April 2003, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgement concerning Gerald Perera’s case and awarded him a record-breaking 800,000 Rupees (about 9,000 US$) cash as well as full medical costs in damages. Mr Perera's medical costs exceed the amount awarded in cash and the total amount was about 15,000 US$. Gerald becomes an activist Gerald soon learnt of what had happened during his coma and of the support he had been given. He felt very grateful to those who had helped him. He also learned about his own rights, including those regarding torture. As he gained more and more knowledge on this, he began to participate in torture victims’ meetings and attended a regional human rights workshop held in November 2003 in Sri Lanka. He narrated his experience and declared his commitment to fight torture. Continuing threats to Gerald’s life from the Police Meanwhile, the police officers that were facing criminal charges for Gerald's torture, approached Gerald many times. They first asked him to accept money to the value of USD$50,000 and to then withdraw his witness statement from the criminal trial. They also threatened him that if he went ahead with the trial, his life would be in danger. Gerald ignored these threats. He also refused any money saying, “there are many people behind me and if I accept this money I will be betraying them and the cause they are fighting for.”
The perpetrators (relevant police officers) of the torture that Gerald was subjected to had to face criminal prosecution. The criminal case under Act. No 22 of 1994 against the aforementioned alleged perpetrators was scheduled to be heard before the Negombo High Court on 2 December 2004. Gerald shot, critically injured At around 11:15am on 21 November 2004, Gerald Perera was shot by an unknown assailant at close range, while traveling on a bus. Gerald’s killer walked to where Gerald was sitting in the back row and shot him several times. The bus driver drove directly to Ragama General Hospital, and after some treatment Gerald was dispatched to the Colombo main hospital for emergency treatment. The shooting took place only a matter of days before Gerald was to appear as the victim and key witness in the criminal case before the Negombo High Court. The AHRC is convinced that the killing was carried out on orders of those facing trial. The police officers facing criminal charges still maintain their positions without any suspension of duty pending the outcome of the trial. Gerald succumbs to his gun shot wounds On 24 November 2004, Gerald Perera passed away at around 1pm local time, at the Colombo General Hospital. International lobbying AHRC has continuously lobbied for the case of Gerald since the time he was subjected to torture by the police. There have been a number of appeals sent on behalf of him to the international community and as a result, UN authorities have intervened into Gerald's case on a number of occasions. In the aftermath of the shooting of Gerald, AHRC intensified its international campaign for the case of Gerald. As a result, local and international media covered the case of Gerald intensively. Many of our partner organizations approached Sri Lankan embassies in their own countries to protest against the murder of Gerald. In Korea, there was a signature campaign that collected over 1,400 signatures urging the police to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice. AHRC also contacted higher police authorities, the National Police Commission and the
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka directly to urge them to expedite the arrest of suspects and bring them to justice. Immediate effects of Gerald’s death Gerald’s family became terrified after the death of Gerald. They lived in fear and did not even attempt to recover Gerald’s body. AHRC immediately sent two colleagues, Eugene Soh from Kwangju, Korea and Bijo Francis from AHRC office to Sri Lanka. They played a crucial role in helping Gerald's family recover his body and provided necessary emotional and moral support. Local groups working against torture in Sri Lanka met and decided to carry on with their fight against torture while taking greater precautions. A mass funeral was arranged for Gerald on the 26 of November 2004. Thousands attended the funeral and national television covered the event. Hundreds staged a protest on the funeral day against the police who are suspected of being behind the murder of Gerald. A senior policeman spoke to the public during the protest promising prompt action. Threats to activists and victims continue. The AHRC called for a witness protection programme to protect other victims of torture who have become witnesses in criminal cases field by the state against police officers. Eventually, police protection was provided to the houses of one victim and an activist. The police suspended the service of 7 police officers related to the case of Gerald Perera. The Officer In Charge of Wattala Police station has been transferred. One month after the murder of Gerald the police arrested two persons, including one police officer, as suspects for the murder of Gerald. Basil Fernando wrote the following in the aftermath of Gerald’s death: “When he regained consciousness two weeks later, he began to fathom the magnitude of what had happened to him. He was from Hendela - my hometown. Knowing the people of his neighbourhood, I could feel the strength of his indignation at being treated in such a manner. These are a fiercely proud people, whose natural reaction would be to resist such inhuman treatment. Gerald insisted on seeking justice. One of the expressions he used so often was, 'What I want is not money compensation but actual justice.' … I met him directly for the first time only in court, when the case came to be argued before … judges. I
found Gerald to be a very warm and large-hearted individual. On that very first day he told me that until this incident had happened, he had not known anything about human rights. He said, 'But when I was unconscious, people had come. A lawyer had come from the human rights groups, and thereafter I was strongly supported by them. Only now do I understand this type of work. I want to be part of such work.' ". …. “After the judgement, of his own volition, Gerald visited human rights organizations and when there were meetings he would come and speak. No encouragement was needed for this, as he was convinced that it was his duty to participate in this way. … “The last time he volunteered to come and speak was on the United Nations Torture Prevention Day, June 26th 2004, at a meeting held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. This speech is available on video. His style of speaking was very soft and gentle but he conveyed deep convictions and determination. “… His sense of self-respect made him refuse to bow down to these pressures. He did not take the efforts to deter him as seriously as many other victims do. His wife recalls that she had told him to take her with him when he attended inquiries concerning his torture. However, he had said that there was nothing much to worry about. That was very much in keeping with his character. Even as I write this, I can recall his smile, the very affectionate expression on his face and the firmness of his voice. That such a gentle person could have been treated so brutally twice, the first time by way of extreme torture and the second by a well-planned murder, is a clear indication of the extent to which the basic institutions of justice have collapsed in the country. It is not so much the depravity of the perpetrators that is responsible for this tragedy, but what contributed most of all was the institutional collapse of the policing system in the country. That is what made this killing possible.” 7
Fernando, Basil, “Gerald Perera whom I knew”, Asian Human Rights Commission, 2004
The killing of a torture victim speaks to how the rule of law in Sri Lanka has totally collapsed, and how discipline in the police force has degenerated to the extent that some officers have become nothing better than the planners and instigators of homicide. Over the last ten years, the AHRC has repeatedly voiced concerns over the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in Sri Lanka. It is now a place where ordinary citizens lack even the most rudimentary security. Today the whole government apparatus stands as an accused party to this murder by reason of its failure to provide Gerald Perera with adequate protection.
Outdated models of human rights work Human rights NGOs are partly to share the blame for the lack of progress of human rights at the local level. Many human rights NGOs conveniently adopted human rights working models from developed countries. Many NGO activists got their training in the West. Many big international NGOs have “trained” local human rights activists in developing countries to carry out “human rights work.” Many NGOs have regarded the United Nations as the centre of all of what they do. The information and documentation of many NGOs has been directed towards UN systems and big international NGOs only. By conducting their work in such a way, local NGOs ignored the disparity between justice systems in developed countries and those that exist in Asian countries. Many human rights models developed by large NGOs and western groups have been based on the assumption that there is a basic functional justice system in all the countries where these models are to be applied. However, the reality is rather different. In Asia, most countries do not have genuinely democratic governments. Further, justice systems, such as policing, prosecution and judiciary, are deteriorating or have collapsed. In the West, such systems have been established and functioning reasonably well for a long time. There is a historical legal tradition developed in the West to uphold justice and human rights. Functioning anti-corruption mechanisms have been established in the many Western countries. However in Asia, only Hong Kong and Singapore can be mentioned as having established effective anti-corruption mechanisms. In most Asian countries, very little emphasis has been given to the improvement of justice systems. Justice system institutions are either very corrupt or heavily politicised or both.
Further, human rights work should attempt to include ordinary people who have become victims of human rights themselves. Often, NGOs focus on political prisoners and high profile persons who have become victims of human rights. This is not adequate. This will create a misconception among the public that human rights groups are working on limited number of privileged groups or persons. One should not be confuse the above analysis as a criticism of the West or international standards. Rather it is a self-criticism of ourselves. Established rule of law traditions in the West are examples to follow. In fact we need to learn how such traditions have been established. Human rights are universal. However, these standards need to be enforced within the context of a system of rule of law. If that system of rule of law is absent, our efforts to enforce human rights are fruitless. Further, human rights actions needed to be persistent and repeated if necessary. Regular repetition of actions helps create public conceptions, debate and support.
Incomplete models of human rights education Another emphasis of many human rights groups in Asia including many national human rights institutions has been “human rights education.” However, often human rights education has been limited to explaining international human rights standards, the UN human rights system and how NGOs could participate in them. There is a serious flaw in this model of human rights education. Human rights education should focus on the implementation of human rights at the local level. Such implementation could always abide by international standards but with a local focus. When you discuss problems with regard to implementation, you encounter various problems with regards to institutions that should be guaranteeing human rights to people. Once again, we are back to the justice system here. Human rights education needs to seriously focus on problems with regard to local justice systems and institutions and how the local groups could lobby to improve these systems. Such lobbying needs to be done locally as well as internationally. Outdated communication system mindset
Many NGOs also live and work on the old system-mindset meaning we disregard the changes in the world in terms of information technology. We are living in the information age where the sharing of information to a large number of persons can be done through the press of a button. Fifteen years ago, many NGOs were used to a certain styles of work. We produced publications and mailed them to a limited number of NGOs and close contacts. Thus our outreach was limited. We had meetings after meetings – regional and international – but often the same people attended these meetings and there was no continuity. Contacting each other took weeks if not months. Today this has changed dramatically. With the Internet, e-mail and mobile phones, we are in constant touch. We can disseminate information to an unlimited number of persons in seeking solidarity and support. We can do this little or no cost. All that we need is someone to type this information into a computer, and a list of e-mail addresses that we can send the information to. This improvement in communication could be regarded as the biggest change in the way of life for all people in the world in the 20th Century. People have become closer to each other – information wise. E-mail and use of the Internet by NGOs is no longer an option or a privilege. It has become a necessity. But the potential of such communication has not been fully realised or explored. Today we can go beyond our NGO circles and reach out to hundreds of thousands of persons who can become supporters of our local causes. But if we remain in the old information-mindset, we will fail and no doubt regret this later. Today the greatest resources are the young who are more acquainted with information technology than older generations. Given the opportunity, these young people could become an indispensable asset to our work. Further, innovative models of education need to be used to educate the public at large. This means human rights education needs to go beyond the human rights activists and lawyers. The use of mass media for local campaigns can not only educate the public on human rights issues, but can help create public opinion and support for human rights causes. Alternative models of human rights work – Analysis When you look at the case of Gerald Perera, you could make few remarks.
Gerald was an ordinary citizen who was tortured. Human rights organisations and a lawyer intervened on behalf of him. When his case was publicised, the public at large could identify themselves with him, as there are many other innocent citizens who are routinely subjected to torture by the police. Public anger and dissatisfaction of the police surfaced and was debated. Thus the institutional problem became a public debate and public consensus was built that police are too ruthless and torture by the police is unacceptable. Gerald also became an activist. He became a member of the victims’ group that was initiated with the local human rights NGOs by Eugene Soh from Kwangju. The victims met each other and began to talk about their own problems and experiences. This became a forum of supporting each other as well as a forum to rally a campaign against torture with greater involvement of victims. Victims became strengthened to speak out. Human rights education programmes invited these victims to talk and share their experiences instead of listening to human rights lectures by scholars from universities. Human rights workers at training programmes became patient listeners. Their education model has been changed. After listening to these victims, the workers began to discuss what would have prevented these victims from these violations – thus justice system problems relating to implantation of human rights at the local level as well as effective remedies for human rights violations at the local level. Human rights groups also brought victims to international and UN forums to directly recount their experiences. Thus the top-down educational model was changed to become a bottom-up one. Further, a number of local media sources were used to advertise and highlight the demand on Government institutions to end torture in Sri Lanka When Gerald was murdered, it was a crucial point of time for the victims and activists in Sri Lanka who were campaigning against torture. However, with the help of inspirational models like Kwangju Uprising, this moment was transformed into a opportunity to take a further step. It was a moment to respect Gerald for what he stood for and draw inspiration from his life. Many activities intensified to covert this moment into one of transformation and progression. This is exactly what happened in Kwangju. On the 26 of May 1980, when a group students decided to sacrifice their life in the name of democracy. It is very important what happened after that. The family members of the victims supported by activists and civic leaders continued to commemorate the Kwangju uprising year after year, risking arrests and harassment by the military government. This continued and persistent commemorations were
instrumental to keep the spirit of Kwangju Uprising alive. Persistent actions by the family members and activists later prompted the successful prosecution of two former presidents of south Korea – Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo - who were sent to jail; one to life and the other for 21 years. Thus the Kwangju Uprising changed Korea for good by ending military rule permanently and eventually creating an environment for real democracy in south Korea. Regional human rights groups like the AHRC used modern communications systems effectively to spread information relating to Gerald to a large international audience. As a result, thousands of people all around the world wrote letters and faxes to the Sri Lankan government and related institutions. Many also wrote letters to relevant authorities in the UN. The use of communication technology created a large international lobby. Cultural and religious differences and conflicts When you look into various cultural and religions differences and conflicts throughout Asia, one common perspective appears — one group, often the dominant religious, ethnic, linguistic or cultural group has denied rights of another group. Often minority groups become the victims. Prolonged practise of discrimination, and rights violation of these minority groups has prompted some members of these groups to initiate arms struggles to achieve their rights or in some cases self-determination in the land they live. Once again, the institutions that should guarantee rule of law and justice have often failed in such environments. If the courts guaranteed the rights of minorities, differences between groups could be narrowed. I do not say that this is the only way to achieve common ground when there are differences. However, I do wish to stress that independent and impartial justice systems could make a big contribution to ease differences through delivering justice. Often, groups tend to take up arms and resort to conflicts when all other avenues available, including the avenues to seek justice, are closed to them.
Conclusion Human rights are universal. However, to achieve this, human rights must be realised at a local level, which is not always done. Obstacles to achieve human rights are
predominantly local. As discussed in this paper, the obstacles span from outdated methods used by the NGOs, narrow perceptions of human rights work, outdated communications mindset to educational models. But the most fundamental obstacle seems to be the absence of a functioning justice system to prevent human rights violations as well as to provide effective remedies when violations occur. When justice systems are corrupt and politicised, they lose their independence and professional character, resulting in inefficient services. Thus such systems become nominal without much effect. Such systems also create conducive environments for human rights violations. Often the rich or the affluent become beneficiaries of such systems. The poor and the non-affluent become victims. Thus absence of a proper justice system which does not uphold rule of law can be the biggest obstacle to achieving human rights. Not only human rights NGOs, but also other institutions such as national human rights institutions, international NGOs and UN agencies, must take a greater responsibility to make a concerted effort to build independent and corrupt-free justice systems, which abide by international human rights standards. Such systems will not only prevent human rights violations, but also sustain human rights.
About the author: Sanjeewa Liyanage, a Sri Lankan, was involved in the student movement from about 1984. In 1988 he became the Asian coordinator of International Young Christian Students (IYCS) an international Catholic student body and worked in about 14 Asian countries. In 1995 he joined the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and helped establish its electronic communications network involving thousands in Asia and other countries. He has assisted human rights training programs for different groups including students, activists, lawyers and judges from the AsiaPacific region. He first visited Kwangju in May 1996 and played a key role in the process leading to the creation and declaration of Asian Human Rights Charter – A people’s Charter including drafting of the final document. He represented Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), the sister organization of the AHRC, at UN forums including Commission on Human Rights in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 and preparatory meetings leading to World Conference Against Racism. Mr. Liyanage is presently the East Asian focal point for the NGO Coalition for International Criminal Court (CICC) in New York and a member of the Assembly of Delegates of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) in Geneva. He is a member of the editorial board of Human Rights SOLIDARITY and article 2, published by the AHRC and ALRC. He has undergone
human rights training at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague and Danish Centre for Human Rights (DCHR) in Copenhagen. He obtained his Masters of Law (LLM) from the University of Hong Kong in 2004. Sanjeewa Liyanage is presently the Programme Coordinator – Communications – of the AHRC and ALRC. The Cultural Conflicts and Integration Hong Seokjun (Faculty of History and Culture, Mokpo University) (Translated by Lee Hyeon-ock) IV. Introduction
This is an introductory article to help the understanding of the general problems of the cultural conflicts and integration in a certain socio-cultural context. The article will first consider the general arguments on culture, and investigate the relation between the arguments on culture and the cultural conflicts, and the relation between the cultural conflicts and the cultural integration. For its conclusion, this article will propose a question, instead, how the cultural integration would be made possible. When interpreted in a broad sense, both academic and practical, culture has been traditionally understood as a sort of life style. According to this view, a culture of a specific region can be defined as the unique and original life style that reflects the dynamics and complexity of the community in the region. A specific culture, however, is formed through the specific historical experiences and the unique cultural context of a community, whether formed spontaneously or formed by pressure from its outside. Is it then possible to combine the society and the culture of a region into one concept or category? In order to answer this question, the differences and the similarities of cultures should be considered first. Different cultures around the world have characteristics that are both different from and similar to each other. If to focus on the life style of the people in a specific region, many ruptures and differences do exist in their specific culture. A culture, here, is an entity that has diverse and complex characteristics, shares certain common elements with other cultures and changes itself flexibly according to the time and context. Under the current rapidly changing political and economic situation, the cultures around the world are expected to accelerate their globalization and localization. Accordingly, there will be formed an environment where are promoted intellectual efforts to explain how the culture of a region is formed, transformed and interpreted
based on the actual daily, specific reality. In this context, it can be said that we need to attain a view through which we can understand the cultural peculiarities and meanings embedded in the daily life of a cultural community, as well as to be equipped with the theoretical and practical tools.
A Critical Investigation of the Cultural Theory and the Issue of the Cultural Conflict.
Various arguments have been made on culture, in general. It seems now quite difficult or almost impossible to deal with culture itself as a general, fixed entity, as it has been widely recognized that a culture always changes in relation with complicate events and situations. Besides, there are certain qualitative differences between normative, ethical messages and a strategic utterance in the practical level. If one views culture as a fixed entity, or simplifies the cultural dynamics as “culture moves from the center to the marginal,” through a dichotomy that puts one’s own culture at the center and the other’s in the marginal, the clashes and tensions between cultures, the dynamic interactions between cultures such as cultural conflicts can be overlooked. Examples can be taken from the social situations of the moment in China, Japan, and Korea. In the case of China, the Sinocentrism and the Han-Barbarians structure has been set forth for the cultural integration in the process of its modernization through, mainly, economic development. Many of the Chinese films have been produced and distributed with the subtle intention to uplift the pride in the Chinese people of their Chinese identity and culture. “Eat, Drink, Man and Woman 2” is a good example of this kind of movies, where can be observed a symbolizing process of the nationalist message, which advocates that Hong Kong and Taiwan should be unified with China despite their geographical and cultural differences, through the Chinese food. In this film is implied the strong pride of the Sinocentrism that the Chinese people, wherever they live around the world, should not forget their cultural identity and China should be the center of the world. Japan has been showing a consistent, passive attitude in that it has built mutual cooperative relations with other countries following the strategy and goal of its modernization, “out of Asia, into Europe (脫亞入歐).” Japan’s tepidness toward the establishment of the economic cooperative system among the East Asian countries also demonstrates that Japan holds a very one-directional and exclusive view on the matter, concerned only with its own interest, but not with equal cooperative relations with other
Asian countries. Korea is also suspicious of its nationalist inclination and the tendency that emphasizes the exclusive competitive spirit for its national development, not the cultural hybridity. Korea, indeed, is well-known as a country that puts its interest before everything in establishing a cooperative relation with other countries. In this context, a serious consideration should be paid to a remark that says, “Korea is so concerned and obsessed with its own problems, it does not show any interest in the problems of the neighboring countries and cannot play its role in solving them” (Kim Sangwoo, May 9, 2002). We are now required to reflect on our own conducts, whether we have been rather passive in understanding and respecting others’ cultures, and, at the same time, have put forth our efforts to apply the directly imported experiences to solve the cultural conflicts. We should also ask ourselves whether we are confronting a cultural reality that everybody is devoted to building and maintaining a strong wall to protect each culture. The existing perceptions and argements on culture, in most cases, tended to be based on the ethnocentric linguistic dogmatism without a deep introspection into the internal view on the specific historical experience and cultural environment of a specific culture (Kim Gwangeok 1998; Han Kyeonggu 1997). These arguments divided the world according to the dichotomy into the center and the marginal, the dominant and the subordinate, the high and the low, or the superior and the inferior; categorized all the cultural elements through the binary equivalence; and, consequently, fossilized culture itself, ignoring the internal diversity of a culture and its flexibility and variableness. Moreover, many arguments were based on rather subjective interpretations and assumptions without enough empirical verification, thus led an unscientific and illogical arguments on cultural values and world views, wanting the concrete contents of a culture (refer to Kim Gwangeok 1998). It is very dangerous to follow the simplified logic that divides the world according to the binary structure. In the numerous societies around the world, various cultures are being practiced in either similar or different forms. Some of the similar features that can be found in common in different nations and societies across the world are the notions and practices on the following matters: the courtesy to human beings, the importance of family, the respect for honor, the mixture of the normality and abnormality, the definition and standard for being human, the world order, the movement of the universe, and the destiny of human being. What is required now is a work to identify the concrete patterns and meanings of those notions and practices, or
how those matters are perceived and practiced in a specific social and cultural context. In one word, the existing theories on culture can be evaluated as lacking the concreteness, as the substance of culture is ambiguous. A culture of a specific region is a cultural entity that holds the concrete notions on and practices of life, rather than a spatial or geographical entity. We cannot define a culture simply by drawing lines on a map. It is very important to recognize that a cultural substance is not grasped through the combination of the spatial concept and some cultural terms, without a deep introspection on the people and their cultural practices. There has been the assumption that a cultural integration in a region could be achieved after a long-term geographical unification. For a cultural integration, however, the internal conflicts and tensions in a culture should be examined first. To argue that there have been consistent positive contacts between two cultures in a geographically unified region is likely to result in a too simplified approach to characteristics and meanings of culture. Through our historical experiences, we should be able to observe that there have been many cases where the internal conflicts caused by the cultural clashes became obstacles in understanding each other’s culture and establishing a cultural integration. An empirical research on the causes and effects of a cultural conflict should be preceded also in order to test this observation. A cultural integration between heterogeneous cultures should be based on cultural exchanges between them for a long period. It should also be noted that the processes of cultural exchanges vary according to each country or ethnic group’s historical experience both in the cultural and social aspects. The differences in the historical experiences and cultural environments of different nations or societies indicate differences not only in their systems and institutions, but also in their customs and their views on the world and the nation. We should be cautious of those attitudes and arguments that are bent on the “appellation” of a specific culture based on subjective ideas and emotions without any concrete proofs to explain the cultural differences. We should be also careful not to fall into the error of the cultural determinism. In order to avoid the unrefined cultural determinism, we need to focus on the cultural heterogeneity not the cultural homogeneity, on the aspect of the cultural conflict not of the cultural harmony and stability. The cultural integration can be made possible when the cultural heterogeneity and conflicts are explained through our understanding of the specific peculiarities and meanings of a culture in the social and cultural context. To stick to the belief that the politics and the economic development of a community is determined by culture only does imply certain possibility of fallacy.
We should ask ourselves whether we are indulged in a sort of “culture-making” as we discuss culture. We should raise a question on whether our diverse cultural discourses are ignoring the aspect of the cultural conflict and hiding our world views based on our strong faith in the cultural homogeneity and different strategies. Furthermore, the differences between the state and the nation should be concerned. In some cultures, the state and the nation are considered as an identical category, while, in others, the two are perceived as two strictly different categories. The state is perceived as a political entity that was formed in modern times; on the other hand, the nation is understood as an “imagined community,” a collection of the common fundamental elements such as language, custom, and religion (Anderson, 1991). We sometimes tend to confuse culture as a matter of images or ideas through which we perceive a specific culture and culture as a whole way of life. Those theories and methodologies that regard the perceptual dimension in the same light with the actual cultural dimension are given great importance in the field of cultural studies. It seems, however, not appropriate to simply identify the perceptions or ideas themselves as culture itself. The system of perceptions or thoughts is an important constituent element of culture, though, it is not a solely determinative element of culture. On that account, the cultural homogeneity and the community spirit are exposed as false discourses due to their insistence on the original emotion or loyalty for the cultural community. Thus, we should concern whether the inclination for the tradition or the mutual intimacy amongst the members of a community would guarantee the universality and the infinite expansion of the civil society. When we discuss the cultural conflict or integration, the fundamental question to be raised first is what “culture” is. Culture has been defined in many ways: some define culture as the field of art; others define it as religion, language and the system of thoughts; it is also defined as a customary institutions and the system of rules. Could each of these concepts of culture be applied separately in explaining a cultural community? Culture has its meanings only to those who practice it. Therefore, it is very dangerous to assume a cultural homogeneity or a cultural community from the fact that some elements or forms are found in common between different cultures (Hong Seokjun, 1998). This is why it is very important to expose the subjects of and the force behind the production of the theories on culture. For whom and by whom all the diverse discourses on culture are produced? The arguments and discourses on the cultural conflict and the cultural integration usually imply double consciousness of the subject’s fear for the alienation and the subject’s pride in the culture. The concepts of culture as
the explanation on, the excuse for, or as the resistance against the political activities, human rights, democracy, economic activities and social ethics were introduced to avoid the evaluation through the Western concept, category, or norms of culture. To achieve this aim, the specific historical processes and experiences of each ethnic or cultural community should be accounted. To further a concrete discussion on the entity of a culture, we need to pay attention to the various voices of the social movements such as the grass-root movements and other NGO movements that have been spread widely around the world in recent days (Appadurai 2000). It is necessary to examine what roles those voices from the social movements and practices take in a specific society, in which context, and what socio-cultural implications they have. In other words, we should first acknowledge the coexistence of different cultures in a society, and approach those problems involved in the cultural conflict and integration of other cultures as a part of the new social movement that purports to restore the cultural rights of different groups of people. This movement that has aroused a new type of tribalism through establishing a network between different tribes or ethnic groups around the world can be recognized as a revival of the nationalism. What is remarkable here is that this sort of small-scaled social movement can be taken as an alternative to confront the logic and the strategy of the globalization, as an attempt to change the center by the marginal. With the recognition of the cultural diversity, we should reflect whether we have been obsessed with the “search for a cultural prototype” (Hong Seokjun 1998). A culture can be defined differently according to the unique historical experience and the cultural environment of a cultural community. The obsession with a cultural prototype leads us to consider culture as an isolated static entity, to ignore the aspect of cultural conflicts, and to overlook the aspect of the agency of the cultural subject. The agency of the subjects that assume and perform certain identities according to their aims can be explained only through the cultural dynamics and practices, not through a certain, putative prototype or innate nature of the subjects. To deal with the issues of the cultural conflict and integration, we should get over the binary paradigm that divides the world into the center and the marginal. For a more productive understanding of the dialogic relation between the cultural conflict and the cultural integration, we need to overcome the binary system and train to view the world in a more objective way. Intellectual introspections on the internal conflicts of a culture should be made which do not emphasize “essential” and “truthful” culture that can be found in common between different cultures and acknowledge that each culture has its unique peculiarities.
The theories on culture should be based on concrete and empirical observation on culture, and homogeneity and heterogeneity in each culture. To suggest to promote a common culture or the cultural integration without considering the dimension of cultural conflict can raise the essentialist emotions of the subjects that enjoy a specific culture and obstruct the establishment of the sense of community or the cultural integration (Geertz, 1998: refer to Chapter 10). A true cultural integration can be achieved by the group of “people” who are willing to share their diverse and complicate cultures beyond the boundaries of the nation or ethnic groups.
In Conclusion: Is the Cultural Integration Possible? When dealing with the issue of the cultural conflict and the cultural integration in the current situation where the globalization is proceeding rapidly, we need to consider one more thing. The globalization of culture takes a different shape from it of the capital. While the economic globalization make use of a variety of means that can be absorbed into different societies and assimilate (refer to Appadurai 1990, 1996). This argument can be applied in the same way when dealing with the problems of the cultural conflict and integration around the world. Thus, those elements that have influenced in the formation of the cultural environment and historical experience of each country, including the tension and conflict between the state and the civil society, the expansion of market, the competition between countries, the state’s policy on companies, and the relation between the traditional and the contemporary, can be examined further through a concrete and empirical research that also accounts for the socio-cultural context. The citizens of each nation should share the recognition of the necessity of the empirical research from the comparative perspective as a part of the specific efforts to search for the paradigm with which we can overcome the simplistic optimism and 문화만능주의. Without inspection on the causes of the cultural conflict and on the specific measures to cope with the conflict, the discussions for the cultural integration and a cultural community will find themselves unfounded. Culture has come to occupy the core position in our contemporary knowledge society or knowledge-based society. Without a good use of culture, a society will be left behind in the sphere of knowledge and information. A thorough and careful understanding on the causes and the contexts of each cultural conflict, along with culture, should be preceded to the discussion on the possibility of the cultural integration, especially when the world is experiencing a rapid globalization and, at the
same time, the localization of each society to obtain the cultural originality. Culture does not exist as a united entity. It is the absence of a proper approach to culture, as well as our superficial and ideative tendency in conceptualizing culture, that have led us to understand culture as a united, universal entity. If culture is understood not as an integrated whole, but as a scene of confrontations, clashes, and conflicts among very heterogeneous elements, studies on culture are naturally led to focus on the theories and practices on the issue of the cultural conflict and integration. The cause and the context of the cultural conflict can be grasped better when inspected not only from the internal cultural angle, but also from the external political, economic and social perspectives. In other words, when the unique and peculiar historical experience of a specific region is accounted enough, the cause and context of a cultural conflict can be grasped better. For example, a comparative investigation on different experiences such as the democratization of South Korea, the democratization movement against the military authority in Myanmar, the June Revolution against the dictatorship in the Philippines, and the people’s power movement that expelled the dictator in Indonesia, can open the possibility of the solidarity between these societies based on their common experiences, and ultimately the possibility of the cultural integration. To understand culture is not to understand the harmony and stability between different cultures, but to understand the conflicts and confrontations between them as a whole. In a word, understanding culture means understanding the cultural conflict. A culture can be grasped only through the conflicts, confrontations, and tensions among the constituent elements in the culture. The possibility for the cultural integration can be expected only when the cultural conflict is thoroughly understood, and systematic and concrete discussions are made on the cultural integration. Without these, discussions on the cultural integration could well remain as an unfounded discourse.
The June Uprising and the Democratization in South Korea Shichun Yu (Writer, Former member of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea) (Translated by Hyeon-ock Lee) 1. Before the May Uprising in 1987
After its liberation from the Imperialist Japan in 1945, South Korea adopted the American political system and culture without much mediation. In 1948, the new Republic of Korea organized the Constitutional Assembly and promulgated its constitution. The constitution is the supreme law of a nation that regulates the organization and management of the state, and the basic rights and freedom of the people, which cannot be infringed with any of its subordinate laws and regulations. As the Cold War system was built in the middle of the 20th century, the Korean peninsula was divided into two states in the North and the South and witnessed a hostile and exhausting war between them. During the Korean War, about 1 million citizens were killed in South Korea. The pro-American, anti-communist dictatorship of Lee Seungman was brought down by the student movement in 1960; a year later, however, the legitimate government was overthrown by the far-right military coup that took an anti-communist line. The Park Jeonghee military regime, despite its economic achievement, is evaluated to have solidified the fascist system for his life-long seizure of power. The democratization movement against Park Jeonghee’s dictatorship was carried out only by the students and some intellectuals of the time. Any critical thoughts and writings against the military dictatorship were enough to imprison the students and intellectuals for a long time. The Park Jeonghee regime, however, collapsed not because of the exterior attack but because of the interior disruption. Park Jeonghee was shot to death by one of his inferiors in October, 1979. In 1980, the South Korean people had what they called “the spring of Seoul” and expected the democratization of the political system. The people’s wish, however, was overridden as some of the Park Jeonghee’s inferiors seized the political power again through a military mutiny. It was in this context that the people’s uprising took place in Gwangju, Jeollanam-do Province. The city of 700,000 people was totally cut off from the rest of the country, and carried out its sublime uprising against the martial army. The uprising, however, was put down in ten days, leaving great number of victims. At the cost of Gwangju citizens’ life, the military regime succeeded to seize the political power. It, however, had to put up with the resistance of the students and the people who required the truth of the Gwangju Uprising. Their struggle against the Jeon Duhwan regime also cost a great number of life. More than 10,000 students were imprisoned, but they continued their struggle through extreme actions such as burning themselves. Students could not organize student unions, and those laborers who tried to organize labor unions were fired by their companies or imprisoned. The Jeon Duhwan
regime suppressed them with cruel torture and violence. Many became the victims of suspicious deaths or torture resulting in death. The general public, however, did not heard of these cases, as most of the media and the press, which cooperated with the military regime for the enlargement of their companies, kept their silence. In January, 1987, a university student died while being investigated and tortured. This case was exposed through the media luckily, and there were proofs to demonstrate his death resulted from torture. The police tried to cover up the fact and this made the people even angrier. The religious figures of the society such as Catholic and Christian priests, ministers and Buddhist monks held prayer meetings and instigated the public rage. The general public in South Korea finally recognized the violence of the military regime. Besides, as the military regime professed to transmit the political power amongst the military figures, the resistance of the public grew even bigger. The constitution of the Republic of Korea originally adopted the direct democracy according to which the people elect the president directly. The military authority, however, changed this system and elected the president by themselves in a gymnasium. The public and the opposition parties led by figures such as Kim Daejung and Kim Yeongsam started to carry out the movement to restore the constitution to the original state. As the opposition parties had won the 13th general election in 1985, they were assured of the support from the people. The opposition parties, the democratization movement activists, and the university students around the country shared the recognition that the military regime could be withdrawn through their collective struggle. 2. The Birth of the National Movement Headquarters for Democratization, the Leadership of the June Uprising All the democratization movement organizations and the opposition parties got together and established a large-scaled joint organization against the military regime in May, 1987. Each had slightly different notions and lines, but shared the goal to restore the constitution to its original state. It was an unprecedented scene that members of different fields including the religious society, the working class, the cultural sector, the juridical society, the medical society, and the women’s movement field, from the senior members of the opposition parties, such as Kim Daejung, to the student representatives, gathered together to form a joint organization. This gathering has the historical significance as “the largest solidarity for the smallest goal.” The constitutional amendment to restore the direct
election system is a rather small goal from the viewpoint of the entire history of the Korean reformative movements; for this goal, however, gathered the largest group of people. It is also significant in that the joint organization formed its leadership before launching on their struggle around the nation, unlike the former movements. The National Movement Headquarters took the spirit of the March 1 Movement in 1919 with which the entire nation resisted against the Imperialist Japan. Through the demonstrations across the country led by the National Movement Headquarters, the Korean people made their rage over the university student’s death resulted from torture known to the world. They also clearly delivered their will to have a direct presidential election. More than 30 cities with universities and colleges turned into huge demonstration sites. The people attacked the press companies, the servants of the power, as well as the local police stations, and burned the police cars. Despite the severe suppression with tear bombs, the guerilla demonstrations were continued. When the defense line of the police was brought down, the military regime seriously considered to proclaim martial law, as they had always done to cope with the demonstrations against the dictatorship.
The Environmental Problems and Movements in South Korea Im Nakpyeong, Chairperson of the Executive Committee Gwangju Federation of Environmental Movements
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 was awarded to Ms. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental movement activist. This was an exceptional case, as the Nobel Peace Prize has normally been awarded to those who have stood out in the fields of movements for the promotion of human rights and democracy or for the eradication of war and other conflicts. Ms. Maathai’s winning of the prize can be interpreted as a message that environmental issues are now recognized as being as important as other issues, such as human rights and democracy, and they are now problems that need to be solved for the peace and welfare of the whole world.
Are environmental problems truly being solved? Despite the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, in 1972, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, the environmental crisis of the world still continues. As the climate changes, global warming continues to proceed and the glaciers on the polar areas continue to melt; the rain forests, or the so-called “lungs of the earth,” are decreasing; the diversity of animal species is also diminishing. Freshwater sources are severely contaminated and many people around the world suffer from water shortages, while at the same time the amount of toxic waste is increasing. The developed countries, in particular, are abusing natural resources and energy through their socio-economic system of mass production and conspicuous consumption. The development policies of the 20th century are, in fact, still in operation.
South Korea has some of the worst environmental and ecological conditions in the world. Since the early 1960s the country has focused on policies for industrialization, urbanization, rapid growth, and exports, and has achieved a remarkable economic growth. Behind the scenes of this rapid economic growth, however, the destruction of the environment and damage to the ecology of the country has also proceeded at a rapid rate. Korea has experienced an unprecedented rapid development and growth which was accompanied by an equally rapid environmental destruction. Even with the appearance of the Roh Muhyeon Administration, the old paradigm of growth and development still prevails. The Roh Administration supports economic growth as one of the most important elements for national competitiveness in this time of globalization and neo-liberalism (new freedom). Environmental movement organizations in Korea have carried out an active struggle against the Roh Administration’s development-oriented economic policies that do not show any concern for the environment. Korean environmental organizations define the current situation as an “environmental emergency” and are uniting in their efforts to change the Roh Administration’s policies. It is not yet quite clear how the government will respond to the recent activities and demands of these environmental organizations. The history of the environmental movement in Korea is not long. It can be said to have started in the late 1980s and major environmental organizations, formed spontaneously in the early 1990s, are still in operation. Before the 1990s, the Korean society
concentrated all its efforts to change the authoritative military dictatorships and establish democracy. Finally, social movements throughout the 1990s came to fruition in realizing democracy in South Korea. The environmental movement in Korea started to take root slowly in this social context.
2. The Environmental Problems in South Korea South Korea is a country of 100.00㎢, 65% of which consists of mountains. It has a population of 47 million, four distinct seasons, and rainfall of 1400~1500mm per year. The country has the world’s fourth highest density of population. Owing to high manpower and consistent economic development, the country has become the eleventh largest economic power with a GNP of more than US$10,000 per person. The imports and exports of South Korea have increased considerably: the country imports the fifth largest amount of petroleum in the world; its car manufacturing industry and pelagic fishery also rank the fifth in the world. South Korea ranks the seventh in the world in terms of the number of nuclear plants, having 20 of them. As a result of this industrialization, more than 85% of the population in South Korea is living in cities. In the early 1960s, the country was a poor, agriculture-oriented country, with a GNP of US$ 200 per person. The amount of exports was less than 100 million US dollars. There were only about 30,000 automobiles in the country, and around 85% of the population was living in farming and fishing communities. It has, however, achieved an economic growth at the rate of 5% per year, and has transformed itself into an urbanized industrial country. Due to this economic growth, the country was able to overcome poverty and is now enjoying a certain wealth and convenience. Housing is provided to more than 90% of the urban households and more than 13 million cars are on the roads (1 car per 3.6 persons). Korean companies have advanced into more than 170 countries across the world, and the number of South Koreans who travel abroad has also consistently increased. In order to understand the environmental problems in Korea, one should first understand the economic growth and the development policies of the country. In the past, the growth-oriented policies of the country were not concerned with the
importance of the environment or the ecology. Their only interest was growth and development. The dictatorships, which ruled the country for 30 years after the 1960s, truly suited their nickname, ‘development dictatorship.’ Those dictatorial authorities took any questions about the environment as challenges to their system and suppressed them. The governmental policies, which could not last long, made indiscreet developments prevalent. Without thinking, the general public followed these governmental policies as development offered them chances of employment and were thus a way to escape their poverty. As a result of these development-oriented policies, the following environmental and ecological problems have arisen in South Korea: First, the injudicious land development was carried out consistently through projects to build cities, industrial parks, resorts with golf links, various roads and harbors. This abusive development and further exploitation of the land has resulted in fundamental transformations in the ecological environment of the country. A considerable portion of the land was exploited to meet the goals of development and growth, and, consequently, the ecosystems of the forests and the foreshores have suffered major damage. Second, mass production and mass consumption have become a part of daily life in South Korea. The development and growth-oriented policies changed the South Korean production-consumption structure in one stroke. In other words, the successful economic growth was made possible at the cost of different natural resources, water resources and energy resources. For instance, in the case of petroleum, South Korea is the fifth largest importing country in the world, and comes in as ninth in terms of the total emission of greenhouse gases. In the case of wood, South Korea is the second largest importing country in the world, following Japan. This process of mass production and mass consumption has brought about diverse and complex ecological and environmental problems. Third, due to the consistent urbanization and industrialization, every city has certain problems of environmental pollution. The overgrowth of the country’s capital area has become a serious problem that now confronts South Korea. South Korea might well be the only country in the world where approximately 47% of the entire population is concentrated in the capital area, as well as all the structures and functions of the
political, economic, social, cultural, and educational fields. It follows that all the cities in the capital area are suffering from traffic-related pollutions such as air pollution, the lack of green spaces, the difficulties of securing safe drinking water and an overburdened hygienic refuse disposal system. The industrial parks in South Korea are also confronted with serious problems of air pollution, toxic wastewater and other toxic waste matters. Fourth, although it is one of the biggest energy-consuming countries in the world, South Korea has not put enough effort into preventing climate change. Korea emits the ninth largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world and this overconsumption of fossil energy means an extreme and dense emission of air pollutants such as greenhouse gases. Despite these figures, the country does not seem to pay enough attention to considering any viable alternatives. Finally, South Korea has 20 nuclear plants and is the second country in Asia to put into practice an electric energy policy concentrated on nuclear energy. These nuclear plants have been producing a huge amount of radioactive waste, even though the country has yet to secure a permanent disposal site. Despite this, the South Korean government is building even more nuclear plants. The nuclear energy issue, especially concerning the problems of radioactive waste disposal sites, has been one of the biggest environmental issues in South Korea for the last 20 years. Having been exposed to large-scale environmental pollution caused by abusive land development, as well as to a mass production and mass consumption structure, and to rapid urbanization and industrialization, the people of South Korea are now increasingly demanding safe drinking water, pollution-free food, and clean air in order to have healthy lives. The South Korea government, however, has stated its determination to revive the South Korean economy and is enforcing large-scaled development projects such as the following: the Saemangeum reclamation project, which destroys the foreshore mudfield; the construction of radioactive waste disposal sites which are combined with further construction of nuclear plants; the construction of roads which destroys the forest ecosystem; and the construction of large-scale dams to secure more water for private and industrial consumption. The government also plans to accelerate the development of the Capital area, the construction of hundreds of new golf links which
will damage the forest ecosystem, and the construction of dozens of tourist and resort towns. Both the central government and the local self-governing bodies have special sectors concerning environmental problems and allocate them a considerable portion of their budget. The government seems to emphasize with a certain harmony among its citizens and a safe environment, as well as development, and says that it will carry out policies for ‘sustainable development’ as adopted at the UN conference; its actual policies, however, still focus on economic growth and development. The South Korean government is carrying out a so-called “end of pipe” administration, i.e., the ex post facto measures, instead of planning preventive measures in advance. The environmental policies of the government cannot control huge development projects. It is, thus, very likely that the environmental problems that our generation is experiencing now will continue in the future as these development-oriented policies will have grave consequences for the environment and the ecosystem. For all these above reasons, South Korean environmental organizations feel compelled to carry out this struggle for a better environment.
3. The South Korean Environment Movement Against the Development Dictatorship Since last November, the environmental organizations in South Korea have been carrying out their struggle against the development-oriented policies of the government through certain extreme measures such as a sit-down strike in the middle of the streets of Seoul and a hunger strike. Major environmental organizations, both from the Capital area and the local areas, are putting forth a collective effort to achieve their goals. The major demand of the environmental movement organizations is the withdrawal of the large-scale development plans that will certainly destroy the environment. They claim that the government should stop the above-mentioned projects: the Saemangeum reclamation project, an energy policy that is dependent on nuclear energy, the construction of roads, golf links, and leisure towns that will further degrade the environmental. The environmental movement organizations are demanding that the government reinforce regulations and restrictions to preserve the environment,
and abandon their development-oriented policies. The history of the environment movement in South Korea is not a long one. It was only in the early 1960s that the country started its full-out development and the environment movement came to the front only in the late 1980s. During the military dictatorships the authoritative system did not allow any questioning, let alone opposition to the government’s policies for economic growth and development. With its massive power behind it, the dictatorship pushed forward its development policy. This was the so-called “development dictatorship”—a one-directional development, development propelled through power and authority. The major task of the Korean society at the time was to expel the dictatorial authority and realize democracy in the country. Environmental issues could not attract enough attention as major social issues. The environmental organizations started to form themselves only when the political society became democratized in the late 1980s. The general public also started to claim environmental rights as part of their basic rights. This was because they were faced with severe environmental problems such as when, before and after 1990, several cases of large-scaled water contamination were reported one by one. The mass media headlined the cases and drew the general public’s attention to the environmental problems. By the time of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, environmental issues had drawn much attention from the international community. Korea was not unaware of these issues and its nongovernmental organizations sought international solidarity to deal with environmental problems at the global level. With the vision of the “Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development,” which was agreed upon at the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development Conference, the organizations started to put on the brakes on the government’s development-oriented policies. At the moment, more than 500 environmental organizations are at work in every corner of the country, forming a nationwide network. The organizations have expanded at a rapid rate since the early 1990s, when there were only mere dozens of these organizations. In the case of the organization that I belong to, it started with 1 central unit and 7 local units in the early 1990s, but now has 53 local units. Through this case can be observed a phase of the environmental movements in Korea. Each
environmental movement organization has members and is run with the members’ financial support. They have been coping with diverse environmental and ecological problems, and different organizations have gotten together and carried out collective activities. The following are some of the major examples of the environment movements and campaigns in South Korea: First, the struggle against the construction of nuclear plants and radioactive waste disposal sites, i.e. the struggle against nuclear energy in general, can be mentioned here. Since the late 1980s, the environment movement organizations have been demanding that the government change its energy policy, one which is very dependent on nuclear power. They have also opposed the construction of radioactive waste disposal sites which are contingent upon the further construction of nuclear plants. In spite of this, including the first nuclear plant built in 1978, altogether 20 nuclear plants are in operation at the moment, producing a tremendous amount of nuclear waste every year. Because of the organizations’ struggle against the construction of radioactive waste disposal sites, the government has not been able to select a waste disposal site yet. The issue of nuclear plants and radioactive waste disposal sites is and will be one of the biggest environmental issues. Second, the save-the-energy campaign and the movement to introduce renewable energy have continued. South Korea is the 5th largest petroleum-importing country, and it emits the 9th largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world. Diverse actions have been taken to change this ‘environment-destructive energy policy’ into a ‘sustainable energy policy’. Movements to introduce renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind power, use of the earth’s heat, and hydrogen energy have kept up pressure on the government. Faced with the crisis that fossil fuel energy will be exhausted at the end of the 21st century, the world needs to search for an alternative energy that can substitute for fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Third, there have been consistent efforts to protect and preserve the mud flats on the foreshore. The Saemangum preservation movement, carried out since the late 1990s, is a good example of the struggle against the one-sided development policy of the government. The western and southern coastlines of South Korea constitute one of the four major mud flats in the world. The mud flats, however, have been considerably reduced due to the reclamation projects of the government since the 1960s. Most of the reclaimed lands have been turned into farmlands, industrial lands, or cities. As the
environmental and ecological values and importance of mud flats became recognized, the environment movement organizations in South Korea started to prevent any more reclamation. Mud flats are rarely found in the world and they provide us with habitats for a variety of bird and other animal species, provide various marine resources, and work as a purifying system for the ecological region. Fourth, the environmental organizations have also carried out campaigns against dam constructions and river-reviving campaigns. Due to different development projects such as building cities, constructing industrial parks and creating farmland, the amount of water being consumed has increased rapidly. To ensure the supply for daily water consumption, water for industrial use and water for agricultural purposes, the government has built dams along rivers. Consequently, the amount of wastewater has increased, and the construction of these dams resulted not only in water contamination but also in the destruction of the ecosystem of rivers. Indeed, several cases of contaminated tap water and polluted rivers have drawn much attention from the society. Recognizing the environmental crises caused by dam construction, the environment organizations have been organized campaigns against dam construction, and fought for the preservation of the ecosystem of rivers. Outside the above-mentioned movements and campaigns, the environment organizations have been coping with environmental problems through campaigns to reduce and recycle wastes, to encourage Green Consumption and Green Transport, and to build green cities or ecological polis. These organizations have been carrying out diverse publicity activities and educational programs. There have also been very active international solidarity activities in the field of the environmental movement.
4. For the ‘Sustainable’ Future The 21st century is said to be “The Century of Environment”. In this expression is implied that the 20th century was a century of environmental destruction, and that the 21st century should be a century to overcome this environmental destruction. It is also implied that we human beings will have a future only when we overcome the environmental crisis. Many environmentalists have been warning us that if the environmental destruction continues at the current rate the future of the world will be quite dark. This
can be easily seen in the global warming phenomenon. If global warming continues, unusual changes in the climate will also continue and the damages from drought, flood, and typhoons will accelerate. The glaciers on the polar areas will melt, causing the sea level to rise alarmingly. This, in the end, will have a direct influence on worldwide agricultural activities. We need to overcome the environmental crisis. Then, how should we cope with it? This is a very difficult task. The UN is recommending that every country aim to build an environmentally sound and sustainable society, as the destructive development policies of the 20th century should not be continued. Nonetheless, most developed countries, including South Korea, are still carrying out ‘unsustainable’ development policies which give priority to the accumulation of national wealth. In the case of South Korea, the ‘unsustainable’ development policies can be observed in its land use, its energy policy, and its policy of economic growth. South Korea, in a word, will continue to sacrifice its environment and ecosystem for its economy. This will be the same for the countries of the Third World. The environment organizations, however, are making sure that they will continue to carry out their campaigns to overcome the environmental crisis and to build the ‘sustainable’ future. One of their major efforts is to continue the struggle against the South Korean government. The government’s ‘unsustainable’ development policy, if continued, will further the environmental destruction, and eventually put an end to life on earth. Environmental destruction is life destruction and it results in the deprivation of our basic rights. To secure safe and peaceful lives for our generation and the next generation, i.e. to secure ‘our sustainable future’, the environment movement needs to be carried on.
The NGOs as Global Actor: Myth or Reality?
Prof. Hae-Young Lee (Hanshin University)
One of the peculiar trends in the nineties in the international political arena is doubtlessly the NGOs. With the 1989/90 collapse of the so-called real existent socialism was boastfully proclaimed the New World Order. The World-Capitalism has successfully proved its viability once again. As a result, the 'Age of Extremes' (E.J. Hobsbawm) seems to expire now and forever without knowing its successor. After ten years of anxious hope are many people now conscious that the "Age of Extremes" is ended irreversibly but the next century also has nothing to do with the "brave new world". On the contrary the U.S. as a sole empire on the globe is continuing the "imperial overstretch" (P. Kennedy). Only the "neo-feudal" international system has substituted its antecedent. One imperial state assisted by the "knight" states such as G7 dominates the most countries. One used to say that after "September 11" everything has changed utterly. However, the hard core of the age, in my view, has not changed at all. Amidst fin de siecle pessimism had J. Habermas 1984 diagnosed our times as follows : The future is negatively cathected ; we see outlined on the threshold of the twentyfirst century the horrifying panorama of a worldwide threat to universal life interests: the spiral of the arms race, the uncontrolled spread of nuclear weapons, the structural impoverishment of developing countries, problems of environmental overload, and the nearly catastrophic operations of high technology are the catchwords that have penetrated public consciousness by way of the mass media. ... The situation may be objectively obscure. Obscurity is nonetheless also a function of a society's assessment of its own readiness to take action. What is at stake is Western culture's confidence in itself.8 On the one hand, the aftermath of "September 11" has reactivated the pessimism of "new obscurity." On the other hand it may imply no other than a warning signal which urges us to take measures. The "optimism of will" (A. Gramsci) could be justified above all by the fact that in the nineties the NGOs have increased their capacities at the international as well as at the national level so dramatically that the national
) J. Habermas (1989), The New Conservatism, MIT Press; Cambridge, pp.50-51.
governments can hardly hold the countervailing power of NGOs under control. The international institutions such as WB, IMF, WTO must react to them by any means. Moreover, they are often considered as a recognized actor of world politics and people demand them to hold even more accountability and morals than the politicians. In the national politics many assign them to take the role of the "fifth pillar" next to legislature, executive, jurisdiction and media. One often says, "taking NGOs seriously." The NGO-activists' catchphrase may be: "Together, we are superpower." Despite success stories of NGOs in the nineties, there may be still many unanswered questions for closer examination. For some critics, "NGOs are the most overestimated actor of the nineties." 29 However, others forecast the "shift of power" from states to NGOs.310 There are good reasons for the critical review of previous global activity of NGOs: as many contradictions and divergences as harmonies and convergences exist between - NGOs from the North and South - "Moderate" and "radical" NGOs - Lobbying-oriented and movement-oriented NGOs - Rich and poor NGOs - Large and small NGOs - National and international NGOs - "Occidental" and "oriental" NGOs etc. The list could last endlessly. Nevertheless, central in my paper is the next problem: Could NGOs be a political alternative in the future? In other words, are they politically capable enough to articulate a vision of global governance that re-regulates the "disembedded" economy into world-society without world-government? If such expectation seems to be unrealistic for the moment, then, is NGOs' future confined to play a role of "checks and balances" in world politics, namely, the "junior-partner" of senior players like states and international organizations? Is their role simply a moral counterpart of corporate- or state-led international system in order to bridge the gap between the people and international organizations? Is herein an alternative project to the present international order included? This essay wants to contribute to such a
P. Wahl (1998), “NGO Transnationals, McGreenpeace and the Network Guerrilla”, (www.globalpolicy.org/ngos/issues/wahl.htm) 10 ) Jessica Mathews, the head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote that "the steady concentration of power in the hands of states that began in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia, is over, at least for a while." See Economist, December 11-17, 1999.
II. Globalization and the rise of NGOs in the nineties Although NGOs have existed for a long time in history (in the early 1800s, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society played an important role in abolishing the slavery system), they have not established themselves as an independent international factor until the 1990s. The NGOs in the new age are one of unintended consequences of neo-liberal globalization. Most imposing is above all their increase in number. The Yearbook of International Organizations has counted on the rather conservative basis - that is, groups with operations in more than one country - the number of international NGOs at more than 26,000 today, up from 6,000 in 1990. 411 In addition, the U.N. now lists more than 3,000 NGOs. The World Watch Institute suggested that in the U.S. alone there are about 2 million NGOs, 70% of which are less than 30 years old. In Eastern Europe sprang up between 1988 - 1995 more than 100,000 NGOs. The big international NGOs are concentrated mostly in three main areas: human rights, development and the environment. Also remarkable is the membership growth in these areas; for instance, the Worldwide Fund for Nature now has around 5 million members, up from 570,000 in 1985, which doesn't need to be shy to compare to the population of small countries. All this is a historically unprecedented phenomenon. In form, the "NGO swarm" is amorphous, linked each other "online", organized highly decentralized and acts "molecularly". The NGOs as a whole are, in short, not an organization in classical sense, but a "net" itself. As mentioned, the dramatic proliferation of NGOs was a reaction against the neo-liberal globalization realized at the outset as an anti-crisis strategy in the advanced capitalist countries since the 1970s. It is first of all the globalization of the economy. The Transnational Corporations are one of its most enthusiastic protagonists. The neoliberal offensive enforced the reorganization of traditional nation-states as the 'transmission belt' of world market. With the transition of such nation-states into the neo-liberal "competition-states", as J. Hirsch conceptualized, was every realm of life
threatened to subordinate into the logic of market. The hegemony of "Neo-liberal International" (P. Anderson) accelerated, for instance, the shifts of the alliance between the labor and the industry capital, which characterize the "Golden Age" of postwar capitalism, to that of industry and financial capital against the labor. But the key problem lies no other than in the fatal unbalance between the globalized economy and the nationally structured politics. As a consequence, it is inevitable to reactivate the critical potentials installed in the civil society and to mobilize its resources to block the neo-liberal offensive from inside as well as from outside. The list of achievements by the NGOs over the past decade is quiet encouraging: - Promoting agreements on controlling greenhouse gases 1992 - "Fifty Years is Enough" campaign 1994 - Campaign to outlaw anti-personal land mines 1997 - Establish an international criminal court - Numerous concerted actions to improve labor conditions in the South against individual corporations such as Nike and to control the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) etc. The protest movement against such international institutions as WTO, World Bank, IMF and the temporarily failed MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) belongs to the latest and most spectacular events in the nineties organized by international NGOs. If the 1992 UN earth summit in Rio was the first turning-point in the history of modern NGOs, where for the first time NGOs participated in the global decision-making process not as protester, the anti-MAI campaign could be estimated as an epoch-making second turning-point. In this campaign the NGOs as "global player" experimented new methods of movement, which is "possibly turning out to be an alternative to the transnationalization of large NGOs that is quite problematic from a democratic point of view"512. From now on, the NGO movement gains another dimension. The global political terrain changed radically: Seattle (November 1999), Washington (April 2000) , Prague (September 2000), Quebec(April 2001), Gothenburg(June 2001), Barcelona (June 2001), Genoa (July 2001), Washington (September 2001) and now Qatar (November 2001). As C. Fred Bergsten commented
) See Wahl (1998), op.cit
April 1999, "the anti-globalization forces are now in the ascendancy." Of course, it is not true to say that the failure of MAI-negotiations 613 was exclusively due to the NGO protest. P. Wahl highlights three characteristics of antiMAI-campaign. First, this campaign has confronted initially not with the so-called "soft issues" on the international agenda - like as environmental or development issues - but with the "hard" economic issues. Secondly, the - limited - success of NGOs was "not achieved by large, transnational NGOs, but by a lose network of both, i.e., small NGOs together with some large, transnational NGOs." Lastly, "the campaign did not aim at improving a project promoted by the government, but classified the agreement as part of the globalization process and rejected it completely." Furthermore, the experience of MAI campaign could be very useful as a strategic framework for the future of NGOs: "- With the issues of neo-liberalism and globalization, NGOs have picked out a fundamental social problem as a central campaign issue and have overcome their traditional single-issue projects. - Refusing the MAI instead of "improving" it did not harm the image of the campaign in the media. - NGOs are politically successful when their issues move and mobilize the public. - Loose networks turned out to be efficient; centralized and hierarchical structures were not necessary, and would have possibly been counterproductive. - Small and flexible NGOs played an important role." 714 With the anti-MAI campaign begins the trends to change. The "hard" issues were imported into the international NGO community. The NGOs turn to the "high politics" and the core international institutions. As results, there took place a process of differentiation from inside. The anti-globalization movement has become an indispensable component of international NGOs. III. The Strategic Framework for NGOs in Relation to Globalization With the ongoing differentiation in the international NGO community, inherent
) For the detailed description and critique, see M. Barlow/ T. Clarke (1998), MAI: The Threat to American Freedom, New York: Stoddart. ) See Wahl (1998), op. cit.
differences and disparities among various NGOs are confirmed inevitably. One of decisive diverging points may be related to the problem of how to deal with the economic globalization. In another words, - as W. Bello said - "should we seek to transform or to disable the main institutions of corporate-led globalization?"815: in short, "Reform or Disempowerment" of international institutions. Tendency Global Justice Movements Main Argument Against globalization of capital(not people), for "people-centered development" Key Institutions social/labor movements; environment advocacy groups; radical activist networks; regional and national coalitions; leftwing think-tanks; academic settings Self-selecting third world nationStates Most United Nations agencies; governments of France and Japan
Third World Nationalism Post-Washington Consensus
Join the system but on much fairer terms Reform "imperfect markets" & "sustainable development" Slightly adjust the status quo (transparency, supervision & regulation
Restore U.S. isolationism; Punish bank's mistakes
U.S. agencies (Treasury, Federal Reserve, USAID); Bretton Woods Institutions; WTO, centrist Washington think-tanks; British and German governments Populist & libertarian wings of Republican party; American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute, Heritage Institute
<Table1: Five Reactions to the Global Crisis> Especially, P. Bond has devoted his attention to this problem in recent years. He categorizes five reactions to the globalization since the international financial crisis
) W. Bello (2001), “Toward a New System of Global Economic Governance”, manuscript presented at a seminar organized by Munwha Ilbo, PSPD, Suh Sangdon Committee in Seoul, February 22.2001
around mid-1997 916(See the Table 1). Amongst the above five tendencies, this essay is of course interested mainly in - following Bond's terminology - the "Global Justice Movements", that is, international NGO movements. However, except the so-called "Co-opted NGOs (CoNGOs)", which receive fund from the neo-liberal agency and seek usually the "dialogue and compromise", there are also each other conflicting and competing subcurrents within the NGO camp. With regard to the NGOs' global strategy can there be logically two main axes: Pro-Globalist or Anti-Globalist. But the empirical reality must not be so simplistic. There also can be minute sub-categories. For example, one could be against the globalization of capital, but in favor of the "democratic" globalization of people or "from below". To which camp, then, does this tendency belong? While someone criticizes the present form of globalization, can he or she imagine or accept at the same time alternative ways to globalization? Therefore, all strategic models of NGOs must take into consideration such a case. Ideal-typically, three kinds of approaches to the problem appear, for the moment, according to the main line of argument and attitude to globalization: 1) "international reformism" 2) "globalization from below" 3) "delinking." 1) "International reformist" approach: This view is a global version of social partnership or corporatism at the national level, which has backed up the 'Golden Age of capitalism" in Western society. It refers basically to the thesis of "democratic deficit" of international institutions and regimes that can be covered only by the cooperation with international civil society. The interests of NGOs as "stakeholder" could be accommodated with the business. The political legitimacy grounded on the support from the NGOs as junior-partner is a necessary condition for the viability of global capitalism. Therefore, it aims the capitalism with "human face". John Clark, a former leading Bank critic at Oxfam, issued an email memo now as chief NGO liaison officer at the World Bank: "[H]ow to respond to the demo organizers' request to all NGOs to boycott all meetings with the Bank and Fund ... For some the compromise was to take part in
) Patrick Bond (2001), “Strategy and Self-Activity in the Global Justice Movements”, FPIF Discussion Paper #5, August 2001.
meetings with Bank staff off the premises (some said this was because they didn't want to be seen and identified by demonstrators and be accused of cooption); but others - notably Jubilee 2000 [U.S.] - were quite open that they intended to ignore the request."1017 The aim of "international reformist" lies not in the abolition of international institutions but in their improvement. From this viewpoint, it is not marvelous to find to some extent the logical homogeneity with the so-called "Post-Washington Consensus" of which World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz takes the initiative. Aimed at the correcting capitalist system's "imperfect markets", he tried to introduce a "new paradigm" into the neo-liberal economy. J. Stiglitz writes: "The policies advanced by the Washington Consensus are hardly complete and sometimes misguided. ... The focus on freeing up markets, in the case of financial market liberalization, may actually have had a perverse effect, contributing to macro-instability through weakening of the financial sector."1118 This results in an elite fight between IMF and World Bank. The World Bank shows, in comparison with its sister organization, the IMF, a relatively high sensitivity to the activity of NGOs, which is well reflected in its document: "Consultation with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): General Guidelines for the World Bank Staff.” Some of lines in the document say: “The primary objective of consultations is to improve the quality of decisions by: capturing the experience of specialized non-governmental agencies, tapping the knowledge of CSOs that work at the community level, giving voice to the poor ..., and giving sustainability for proposed reforms beyond any one government administration."1219 The World Bank's co-optation strategy may express its changed approach to the integrationist fraction in the international neo-liberal blocks. In recent years, the partnership between business and NGOs increased variously. The Financial Times reported: "For companies, the desire to work with NGOs stemmed from a recognition that environmental and social issues can provide business benefits, ranging from differentiating products to cutting costs. "In the world of business, environmental
) Cited from Bond (2001). op. cit. ) Cited from P. Bond (1999), “Global and National Financial Reforms”, Proceeding at International Conference on Neo-liberalism, Global Capitalism and Civil Alternatives, October 5, 1999, Sungkonghoe University, Seoul Korea. ) See World Bank's homepage http://wbln0018.worldbank.org.
performance is increasingly seen as a competitive and strategic issue for companies," says SustainAbility. In several instances NGOs have been willing to endorse products. In 1992 Greenpeace helped launch a hydrocarbon called "Greenfreeze" that could replace an ozone-damaging coolant in refrigerators. Its efforts resulted in 70,000 orders."1320 The "symbiosis" between business and NGOs follows, as such, the business logic: an equivalent exchange between profitability of business and fund-raising of NGOs: "The problem with partnerships lies not so much in the nature of the relationship as in objectives. Despite the grand rhetoric, when it comes to negotiating the terms of the partnerships, there is a tendency to revert to fundamental organizational aims: reputation enhancement at the local and international level for the business and access to financial resources for the NGO. Hence, most NGOs give the responsibility for corporate partnerships to the fund-raising department, rather than to their advocacy department."1421 But even such a partnership is inaccessible to the NGOs of the South, due mainly to the "power differentials": "The idea of partnership between a multi-billion dollar global corporation and a poor, marginalized local community group in the South is at odds with the enormous power differentials and divergent interests inherent in such a relationship. On the other hand, when larger NGOs establish new collaborative relationships with business, there appears to be greater scope for shared power and control. Such NGOs increasingly need to work with business in order to realize their organizational goals in a globalized economy. Their business partners need credible independent guidance in order to respond appropriately to concerns about the social and environmental impacts of their products and production processes."
) V. Houlder (2001), “Campaigners Learn Lesson of Business Advantage”, Financial Times, July 24, 2001. 21 ) Kelly Currah (2000), “How Corporations Absolve Their Sins”, Guardian, August 28, 2000 22 David F. Murphy (1998), “Business and NGOs in the Global Partnership Process”, (http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/unctad16.htm)
As mentioned above, the relationship between two "non-state actors" is recently interwoven, to a great extent, because not of mutual understandings but rather of mutual interests. Even though it is for now not proper to judge about it ultimately, one thing is however not deniable that such an invisible connection could jeopardize all the achievements of NGO movement. For instance, at the local level, the NGO's intervention encouraged by many donors of the North, that is also NGOs, was accused of misleading the outcome: "By their action and their line of work, NGOs have a strong tendency to take in charge some tasks or services that are normally of the State' s responsibility. This attitude often leads peasants to consider the NGOs as being the State or its legitimate substitute. It also represents a form of justification of the State's passivity concerning rural development, or even a means of taking away from it its responsibilities. The extension and generalization of such an attitude can also open the way for the existence of two parallel States or of a State in the State..." 2) "Globalization from below" approach: W. Bello, Director of Focus on the Global South, represents one of the typical positions with regards to the anti-globalization campaign in the NGO community. According to him, "a classic crisis of legitimacy has struck the multilateral institutions that serve as key elements of the system of global economic governance: The WTO, IMF and the World Bank." Therefore, "the focus of our efforts these days is not to try to reform the multilateral agencies but to deepen the crisis of legitimacy of the whole system. ... We are talking about disabling not just the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank but the transnational corporations itself. And we are not talking about a process of "re-regulation" of the TNCs but of eventually disabling or dismantling them as fundamental hazards to people, society, the environment, to everything we hold dear." So, the strategic orientation focused not on the "re-regulation" but on the disempowerment of TNCs. Bello seeks the alternative to globalization in the "deglobalization": "We are not talking about withdrawing from the international economy. We are speaking about reorienting our economies from production for export to production for the local market;
... We are talking, essentially, about an approach that consciously subordinates the logic of the market, the pursuit of cost efficiency to the values of security, equity and social solidarity. Following Karl Polanyi, we are speaking, about reembedding the economy in society, rather than having society driven by the economy."1623 Rejecting capitalist globalization radically, Michael Albert also recently elaborates the alternative strategy to the globalization. The anti-globalization activists now want to replace the core three institutions of capitalist globalization, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, with dramatically new and different structures: "The WTO trumps governments and populations on behalf of corporate profits. The full story about these three centrally important global institutions is longer, of course, but improvements are not hard to conceive. First, why not have, instead of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, an International Asset Agency, a Global Investment Assistance Agency, and a World Trade Agency. These three new (not merely reformed) institutions would work to attain equity, solidarity, diversity, self-management, and ecological balance in international financial exchange, investment and development, trade, and cultural exchange."1724 M. Albert advocates, furthermore, a "bottom-up" method as the organizational principle of the new institutions: "And second, ... anti-globalization activists also advocate a recognition that international relations should not derive from centralized but rather from bottomup institutions. The new overarching structures mentioned above should therefore gain their credibility and power from an array of arrangements, structures, and ties enacted at the level of citizens, neighborhoods, states, nations and groups of nations, on which they rest. And these more grass-roots structures, alliances, and bodies defining debate and setting agendas should, like the three earlier described one, also be transparent, participatory and democratic, and guided by a mandate that prioritizes equity, solidarity, diversity, self-management, and ecological sustainability and balance."1825
23 24 25
) See Bello (2001), op. cit. ) See Michael Albert (2001), “What Are We For?”, ZNet, September 6, 2001. ) Ibid.
3) "Delinking" approach: Yash Tandon, a former chair of CIVIUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, also presents a grassroots-oriented alternative from the perspective of the South: "What are the alternatives? Stepping outside of the global economy is hardly a realistic option. However, the South can do at least two things in relation to the process of globalization. One: it can slow down the process of its further integration into the global process. And two: it can strengthen its local- community based systems of production and marketing, and begin to control local resources away from the hands of multinational corporations."1926 For him, the governments in the South are not capable any more of defending against the encroachment of their sovereignty accompanied by globalization. Furthermore, most of the Southern NGOs are funded by the Northern counterparts and consequently tend to be either "welfarist or single-issue oriented." Hence, "by and large it is unrealistic to expect the NGOs (excepting a few) to take the lead to raise broader issues of development and the effects of capital-led globalization."2027 Instead, rather how the "ordinary people on the ground who are the direct recipients of the damage that modernization, and now the globalization" will become a force for change is a crucial issue for the South. "When they rise", "the NGOs could become good allies for them, just as when the street kids of townships in South Africa rose up to single-handedly take on the might of the apartheid state the middle class intellectual cadre of NGOs became a strong support base of them."2128 In the tradition of Dependency Theory, S. Amin continued to radicalize the strategy of "delinking" - "not autarky, but the subordination of outside relations to the logic of internal development and not the reverse".2229 Then he reviewed the most radical reform proposals against the "Bretton Woods institutions", which are very similar to the M. Albert's ideas sketched above: 1) the transformation of the IMF into a genuine world central bank; 2) the transformation of the World Bank into a fund that would collect surpluses and lend them to the Third World; 3) the creation of a genuine international trade organization, etc. Although these are as such a very fine project for
27 28 29
) Yash Tandon (1997), “Globalization and the South: the Logic of Exploitation”, Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft, 4/1997, p. 397. ) Ibid., p. 398. ) Ibid. ) S. Amin (1997), Capitalism in the Age of Globalization, London & New Jersey: Zed Books, p. 40.
the reform of world economic and political system, they have the blind spots, too. For instance, too much "value judgments" are included in the analyses; the transformation of the IMF or World Bank into new ones ought not to be the objective for the immediate future in the long transition to world socialism. Consequently, he is afraid that "by setting the bar too high we are condemning ourselves to failure"; because "the status of globalization has not always been clearly defined (is it a determining objective force, or one tendency among others?) certain elements of the reform project ... strike me as doubtful.2330 For him, capitalist globalization is not in itself a way of resolving the crisis. A simple "rejection" of globalization could not constitute an adequate solution, for it become, at last, integrated into this globalization and are made use of it. The "delinking is not to be found in these illusory and negative rejections but on the contrary by an active insertion capable of modifying the conditions of globalization."2431 It means no other than the "substituting the unilateral adjustment of the weak to the strong with a structural adjustment that is truly bilateral" by means of "another type of globalization". Most important is the problem for the "national and popular democratic alliance". It is so impossible to bypass the "stage of popular national construction, of regionalization, of delinking and the building of a polycentric world".2532
IV. Toward the Global Governance of People Every political process presupposes normally three dimensions: polity, politics and policy. The same applies also to the international political arena. It can’t be denied that in the nineties NGOs act as global player like multinational corporations successfully as well as unsuccessfully. They contract occasionally the strategic alliances with each other and form a united front against the "tyranny of market". All these were obviously political actions or at least "politically-oriented" actions. Like usual political parties, they put pressure upon the government at the national level and contributed immensely to the further democratization of society. In the public sphere they were approved as a quasi-political party and gained a considerable "power of influence", namely the "indirect" power compared to that of the administration. With regard to the environmental and social issues, their positions nowadays are respected and adopted on
30 31 32
) Ibid., p. 43 passim. ) Ibid., p. 75. ) Ibid., p.78-9.
a case-by-case basis. If one takes all these processes seriously, she/he may conclude that NGOs become global political actors. However, still one thing lacks in the NGOs exactly as the TNCs do. That is democratic legitimacy. They were never elected but only selected by the people on the basis of beliefs that they are morally superior to the politicians by profession. If so, they have at best the virtual or ad hoc legitimacy, which would be fulfilled only through their post-factum activity. In essence, people’s acknowledgement of the NGOs is a kind of social contract that could be broken anytime. As far as NGOs have never constituted themselves in the "body politic", the legitimacy problem of NGOs remains unresolved. Paradoxically the globalization made a favorable condition to create some type of global polity. The globalized economy leads to the selective globalization of society. Against this background, NGOs were rapidly internationalized. R. Falk and A. Strauss proposed in Foreign Affairs a formation of "Global Parliament": "As with the early European parliament, a relatively weak assembly initially equipped with largely advisory powers could begin to address concerns about the democratic deficit while posing only a long-term threat to the realities of state power."2633 According to them, there are two ways to reach it. First, "civil society, aided by receptive states, could create the assembly without resorting to a formal treaty process. Under this approach, the assembly would not be formally sanctioned by states, so governments would probably contest its legitimacy at the outset. But this opposition could be neutralized to some extent by widespread grassroots and media endorsement." Second approach "rel[ies] on a treaty, using what is often called the 'single negotiating text method'. After consultation with sympathetic parties from civil society, business, and nation-states, an organizing committee could generate the text of a proposed treaty establishing an assembly."2734 Of course, it may be a too defeatist to reject this proposal only because it sounds utopian. But it is also problematic to insist that the possibilities exist without probing in detail the concrete conditions of it. Unacceptable is moreover that the idea of "Global Parliament" is de-linked with any abolition or at least radical reform of neoliberal institutions. Although it is true that the formation of a political unit on a global scale is in
) Richard Falk / Andrew Strauss (2001), “Bridging the Globalization Gap: Toward Global Parliament”, Foreign Affairs, January-February 2001. ) Ibid.
the last instance one of the ultimate solution of legitimation problem, it matters, however, in the first instance if its political contents are well planned and the political driving forces are sufficiently organized. For instance, the ideological factor plays here a significant role. To tell the truth, the ideological terrain within the NGO community is to a great extent confusing and divergent. Especially those at the core of antiglobalization understand themselves as "anarchist". Following B. Epstein, their intellectual and philosophical perspectives might be better described as an "anarchist sensibility than as anarchism per se." In this sense "it is a form of politics that revolves around the exposure of the truth rather than strategy."2835 The ideological-political backgrounds of anti-globalization movements vary from Marxism, Trotskyism, to the Islam. A certain form of movement such as "network guerilla," on which the "anarchist" mind-set is dominant, could be advantageous to access to the people. Neither the movement could however vagabondize from here to there perpetually, nor works the internet always. The NGOs per se is an expression of a specific phase of history, wherein the classical labor movement is politically inactive and the "new" social movement somewhat suffers from tiredness. A. Gramsci proposed once a perspective of "reabsorption of state into the civil society". This standpoint could be valid at the national level. However, in the international arena there is no central authority as worldstate. It seems to be also not plausible that in the near future the world-state becomes a reality. The "governance without government" is seemingly the only feasible alternative in the world politics for the present. For the global "civil society" - whatsoever it may be -this constellation might be a chance, for the international NGOs could try to constitute themselves politically without relatively less backlash of states. In my view, the future of NGOs depends considerably on whether they will reorganize themselves anew as political body. Neither NGO-fetishism nor NGO-nihilism helps this project at all. Anyhow, so true is the following: "There is no alternatives." Orientalism Prof. Hong-gyu Park Faculty of Law, Youngnam Unviersity
) Barbara Epstein (2001), “Anarchism and the Anti-Globalization Movement”, Monthly Review, September 2001.
Bush and Orientalism Upon Bush’s reelection as the president of the US, there seems to be much discussion going on, but hardly any discussion concerning the reinforcement of Orientalism due to his reelection. As for myself, I feel anxious that Bush and his Orientalist associates may reinforce Orientalism in America, and in the world. Those who would translate the term, “Orientalism” literally into “Orient-ism” or “Orient-centrism” might argue that, if Bush takes this notion of “Orientalism,” it is not a situation to worry about, but one to celebrate. Those, however, who are aware of how the term is truly used, will understand the actual meaning of the term is the opposite, i.e., “Orient-contempt-ism” or “Orient-discrimination-ism.” Arguing that this Orientalism has driven America to disdain and discriminate against the non-Occident (i.e., the Orient), and eventually to invade Afghanistan and Iraq as well as arousing certain public opinion against North Korea, may be criticized for its ignorance or exaggeration, especially when the world has observed the events of 9.11 and the North Korean nuclear weapon issue. Is it, however, really an exaggerated groundless apprehension to question whether Orientalism is embedded in the United States’ view of Iraq and the Korean peninsula? There have been numerous cases of misrepresentation of Korea by the US: they described the 4.19 Student Uprising by saying, “a rose bloomed in a trash bin”; General John Wickham, the United States commander of the joint US-South Korea military command, called the Korean people “rats”; an American press recently reported that there are millions of prostitutes in South Korea. As for the representations of North Korea, Kim Jong-il of North Korea has been regarded as the equivalent of Sadam Hussein of Iraq, and the “North Korean nuclear weapon” as the equivalent of the unaccounted-for “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq. My suspicion of the American Orientalist view on Korea is based on these misrepresentations. Wouldn’t there be any relation between the United States’ claims on the issues of the still unexplained North Korean nuclear weapon, on South Korea’s uranium enrichment test, and on the unclear Iraqi WMD? How far is the lopsided relationship between South Korea and the US from the unequal treaty between Korea and Japan at the time of the “opening of the port”, when the US announces unilaterally a reduction of US forces in South Korea and maintains the unequal SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) which leaves military command in wartime to the United State? Those who are keen on the international politics might argue that this unequal relationship is a matter-of-course for lesser nations, and, thus, they should become
greater powers. Amongst the approximately 200 nations around the world, however, the chances for lesser nations to become as powerful as the US are almost nonexistant. Some patriots might get angry now if I say that South Korea cannot become a nation as mighty as the United States; however, we should acknowledge our reality. What matters more here is not power in real politics. Orientalism is the term that signifies the existent contempt and discrimination at the bottom of the political, economic, social and cultural discourses that were created to justify the imperialist West’s invasion of and domination over the non-West. In other words, Orientalism was brought out as a matter of historical judgment. In the case of Orientalism, “ism” does not mean a certain political, economic, social, or cultural system, but it carries a negative implication as in “alcoholism.” This is not to say that Orientalism means “addiction to the Orient,” but to say that it implies the negative attitude, i.e., discrimination and contempt, toward the Orient.
The Falsehood of the Essentialist Distinction The distinction between the West (the Occident) and the East (the Orient) presumes certain essential differences between the two. We can easily differentiate them with simplistic features. This sort of distinction, however, is often based upon unreliable reasons. What is important here is that this kind of distinction between the West and the East based on false reasons first started in the West, especially by Western imperialists. One of the most prevalent discourses of this distinction can be the comparison between the “civilized” West and the “barbaric” East. From the Western point of view, this comparison might have had certain reasons; however, the very reasons were fabricated in the West, and what is worse is that we, in the East, have also believed them to be true. The same can be observed in historical views on Korean history and the theories of Korean nationality fabricated by imperialist Japan. The West had to justify their invasion of the East, and the imperialist Japan learned this strategy from the West, as has been proven by many studies on the colonial policies in the early Japanese colonial period. The problem is that this Orientalism is still present, long after the imperialist invasions. Bush’s policies are the evidence for the existence of Orientalism. The Bush administration invaded Iraq claiming that Iraq had WMD and that Sadam Hussein was an unforgivable dictator. As the supposed WMD have not yet been found and as Hussein was the representative of Iraq, chosen by its people, it is natural that the Iraqi
people pronounce an anathema against Bush. Bush’s military force cannot occupy Iraq forever, I believe. Though the Bush administration has announced that the US military force will be withdrawn upon the establishment of a democratic government in Iraq, the US will probably still try to dominate Iraq in one way or another as long as they have an oil interest in Iraq. Their dominance, however, will not last for long, and the US army cannot help but leave Iraq. This is just a matter of time. I do not ignore the anger that Bush and the people in America, or people in the world, felt over 9.11. Nobody can deny that 9.11 was an atrocity that aroused anger around the world. The world, however, is aware that the broad antagonism of the Bush administration against the Arab world was one of the main causes of 9.11, and that the terrorist Bin Laden himself was, in the pas,t nurtured by the US to fight against the USSR. In other words, 9.11 was a trap set by the US themselves; then, as the US was attacked by the terrorists, it reared up for its own national interest. This is, however, should not allow for such an act as 9.11. In the context of Orientalism, Bush and Bin Laden can be regarded as Orientalists of the same kind. Bush brought up Bin Laden as his perpetrator to dominate the Arab world, but Bin Laden became an Arab nationalist to resist against the US. Rising against the Orientalism of the Bush administration, Bin Laden has become a fundamentalist or essentialist who adheres to Arab-absolutism or Orient-centrism. This kind of variety of Orientalism is often observed in fundamentalist nationalists during or after the period of liberation from the colonial powers or during independence struggles. There are also numerous varieties of Orientalism that are cultural and ideological. The East-West distinction theories in South Korea are also, at the end, essentialist categorizations.
Orientalism At the beginning, Orientalism meant the artistic and academic trend that can be translated as “an Orient-adoring inclination” in the West. This meaning has been often adopted in the translation of the term and in certain West-related publications. The term, Orientalism, however, gained another meaning as Edward Said appropriated the term in Orientalism taking it for the Western way of perception of the East that is fabricated as a means of domination over the East. It was in 1991 that I translated Said’s book into Korean, and since then it seems that the term has been understood with Said’s meaning in South Korea. In this article, I also use the term, Orientalism, in
Said’s way. In Orientalism, Said focused on Western Orientalism vis-a-vis the Middle East, but I am not here to introduce Said’s observation on the topic. Middle East Studies are not fully developed in South Korea for various reasons. Nor has my translation of the book encouraged Middle East Studies in South Korea, unlike in certain countries where the publication opened active discussions concerning Said’s book and the Middle East. As the Korean translator of Orientalism, I felt a certain responsibility to introduce these discussions, but no one seemed to be interested in them. This did not, however, discourage me as I translated the book because I wanted to introduce its paradigm which we can use to ponder our own problems, not because I was interested in Middle East Studies. Nonetheless, I have yet to see publications that deal with our own problems of Orientlaism seriously, except for a very few works. I expected foreign literary studies, including English literature, to open genuine discussions concerning Orientalism, such as so-called “postcolonial” discussions. I have read a couple of related articles, and observed that our foreign literary studies are still very submissive to the powerful. In English literature, the Saidian critical approach has been totally ignored or disregarded. The case of English literature is still better than the cases of French or German literary studies where there is no single publication that concerns the matter. Said criticized French literature because of its Orientalism, as much as he did with English literature. Camus’ works, especially, have been translated into Korean many times and are now published in a complete edition. The Orientalist elements can be observed not only in so-called “canonical” works, but also in our contemporary works. Orientalism is prevalent in most works of English and French literature. At the moment, however, those literary works imbued with imperialism and colonialism are considered as the Canon and as masterpieces. This is quite a deplorable reality. The same criticism can be made not only of literary works, but also of scientific work in other areas of studies in the humanities and social sciences, from Marx to Weber and on to Huntington, to mention just a few; yet, no one has called them into question.
Robinson Crusoe Probably everybody has heard of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The scene I remember most is where the native islander, who was saved by Crusoe, knelt down in front of him and swore to serve him as a slave until his death. This native man was named after the day, Friday, that he was saved by Crusoe, learned English and Christian
principles from his “master”, Crusoe, and went back to England with him. Whether it was an island in Asia or in Africa, for the British, or for the Western, it would have been the same story. In other words, if Crusoe had drifted to Jeju-do Island or Dok-do Island, the written story might have been the same. If our ancestor had sworn to be a slave to Crusoe and changed his/her name to “Friday,” would we have appreciated the book as much as we do now? Is Robinson Crusoe the only case of Orientalism? How about Tarzan, who we have seen so many times in the form of novels, films and TV dramas? How about those films about American Indians? How about The Jungle Book? Who is 007 that fights the “Eastern” villains who want to destroy the world? What does the friendship between Livingstone and Stanley, introduced with the title, “The Explorer of the ‘Dark’ Continent,” in a Korean middle school textbook, tell us about? Who is Schweitzer, “the Saint in the jungle,” for us now? Many more examples can be taken. Robinson Crusoe is read, in general, as an adventure novel, or so-called “survival story”; however, the book is more than that. Crusoe was a slave-trafficking merchant, a sugar and tobacco plantation manager, and an adventurous trader who crosses the Eurasian continent. In a word, he was a typical imperialist who formed a domination network through production and trade based on the Western Europe and its colonies. Crusoe came to the uninhabited island because of a shipwreck while sailing from northern Brazil to the northwestern coastline of Africa, called Guinea in those days, for slave trafficking. The island, however, was not an island in the distant sea, but one at the mouth of the second-largest river in South America, in sight of land. The sea connected to the river was the Caribbean Sea, and the native islanders were those whom we call the Carib nowadays. As the island was no great distance from the shore, the Carib could visit the island easily by canoe. In the novel, the Carib are described as a cannibal race and the reason for their visit to the island is to have a cannibalistic party on it. Friday is often mistaken as a Negro, but he was in fact a member of the Carib. It was first claimed by Jesuits, who came to the area in the 17th century when Crusoe drifted to the island, that the Carib were a cannibal race; this theory, however, was discounted by the Jesuits of the 18th century. This change was due to the history of colonization. In the 17th and the 18th centuries, most of the Caribbean area was colonized and the Carib were in danger of extinction. The number of native Carib decreased sharply from about 40,000 at the end of the 16th century to about 4,000 a century later. In other words, the cannibalism
theory disappeared along with the native Carib. The cannibal Friday learned to eat cooked goat meat and bread, to wear clothes and to speak English. He also learns how to use a gun, the symbol of European civilization, and to kill his own cannibal race with the gun. In less than three years, Friday became a “good” Christian, even better than Crusoe. This was the basic Western perspective of the non-West, and has been the motive for the reproduction of “Robinson Crusoe literature” for the last two centuries. The remarkable vital force of this perspective came from its connection to one of the fundamental fabrications that supported imperialism and colonialism: to switch the positions of the invaders and the native. This was the basic structure for the creation mythology of colonialism. In other words, the western invaders claimed to be the natives by building their artificial paradise and then excluding the original natives as invaders of that paradise.
Orientalism in Us I have, above, mentioned Robinson Crusoe as an example of Orientlaism, and now will go back to discuss our own reality. South Korea was experiencing different submissive and colonial fevers of English education, overseas studies, overseas traveling, and preference to foreign goods under the name of “internationalization” and “globalization,” when the so-called “IMF crisis” struck the country. Under the surveillance of the IMF, South Korea had to open its market to foreign capital, which some regarded as “the second national humiliation,” a new “trusteeship” or a “viceroyship.” These humiliated emotions are now forgotten, and those fevers from the past are returning. The 21st century began with a series of events that caused serious damage to humanity: the 9.11 terrorist attack caused more than 3,000 casualties in New York; the US military’s act of retaliation caused an even larger number of casualties. Under the name of anti-terrorism, the US is carrying out a large-scale military operation in Iraq. This series of tragic events implies not only a deprivation of human lives, but also of humanity. No one can deny that the developed countries, such as the US, are taking military and economic actions based on calculations around issues of oil interest and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since the Cold War came to an end near the end of the 20 th century, the world has shifted its power structure from a US-USSR polar system to a singular US formation. As the risk of coming into conflict with the USSR has
disappeared, it has become much easier for the US to take military action. As its military expenses decreased, the US economy also prospered. Consequently, people started to believe that American ideology was the only justice in the world. “Globalization,” the IMF system, and the war in Iraq are the outcomes of this American ideology. This American ideology is deeply rooted in Orientalism. According to Said, Orientalism is a system of cultural hegemony that expresses and represents the East (which constitutes substantial parts of Western civilization and culture) through cultural and ideological discourses as an entity that is sustained by certain systems, knowledge, figures, and beliefs, as well as the colonial bureaucracy and the colonial mode of life. In other words, Orientalism has been the means for the West to exploit and dominate the non-West and its culture. According to Said, for the West, “the East” indicates the Other distinguished from the West itself. To justify the West’s invasion of and domination over the East, the West had to make an ontological and epistemological distinction between the East and the West, claiming that there were essential differences between the two. The East, thus, is fabricated by the West. Invasion and domination promote mystification, along with contempt. Likewise, the West endowed the East with political dictatorship, social authoritarianism, and cultural mysticism as its unique characteristics. This was the West’s scheme to further their domination over the East. This Western view of the East has its origin in the Greek and Roman era when the West started to dominate the East, and is still prevalent. It is dominating us not only at the political, economical, social and cultural level, but also at the level of our own minds and bodies. Orientalism in Korea is based on the belief that culture is completed with the American capitalist system, the American presidential system, American individualism, and American Ph.Ds. Is there be any other country in the world that has been Americanized as much as South Korea? Despite this reality, the so-called “elite” intellectuals of the society insist on further Americanization under the name of “globalization”. Said’s Orientalism indicates first, the studies on the East; second, the paradigm based on the presumed ontological and epistemological distinction between the East and the West that can be found in literature or journalism about the East; third, the interrelated system or network of knowledge that produces the narrations about the East and endows them with authority, for the Western domination over the East. The East represented through Orientalism does not necessarily correspond to the “real” East. The East here is a representation through the discourse of Orientalism,
and this representation of the East appears to be the subject=subordination of the Western view. Furthermore, to position the East opposed to the West is also an Orientalist statement. Said, however, was not to claim that a Westerner can never know the “real” East or that only a citizen of the East can; instead, he showed that Western Orientalism produces a power relation of dominance and suppression through political and economic practices. When they achieved independence from the West, the countries of the East sought out their subjectivities in the models of the Western nation-state (the formal universality), and, at the same time, emphasized their non-Western originality (the concrete peculiarity). The non-Western intellectuals found themselves faced with the duty to establish an identity for their nations based on putative differences from the West, and to make their own history through the mechanism of imitation of and resistance against the West. It was in this context that the rehabilitation of Confucian culture was suggested in countries such as Japan, Korea, China and Singapore. In the case of Japan and China, the rehabilitation of Confucian culture receded after a while, unlike in Korea where it still remains as one of the country’s major cultural currents. This Eastern Confucian culture, however, can be seen as a kind of Orientalism sharing Sinocentrism based on nationalism. The starting point of Sinocentrism is courtesy, i.e., the decorums of the ceremonies of coming of age, marriages, and funerals as well as ancestor worship. In the Joseon Dynasty, courtesy was forced to an extreme degree in order to get closer to China, the utopia where courtesy was worshipped. It is necessary for us to discuss how to overcome Orientalism, while taking precautions against dangerous traps such as Sinocentrism. In Orientalism, Said analyzed how Western supremacy had been fabricated in the names of literature, scholarly works, art and religion, and how Western supremacy, in league with the imperialist domination, had exploited the colonized people and imposed upon them various forms of self-abasement. Orientalism was a book of anger toward the falsehood and hypocrisy of the Western mind, through which Said pursued his investigations as a genuine “intellectual activist.” Though Orientalism dealt with the invasion of Western imperialism in the Middle East, its argument can be applied to analyze the situation in Korea, both during the Japanese colonial period and today, where modernization, westernization, Americanization, internationalization, and globalization have come to mean the same thing. Imperialist Japan merely imitated the West and exploited Korea. Though it has been more than half a century since its liberation from Japan, Korea is still haunted by the Western ghost, which is now even more blatant, and at the same time subtler, than before.
Since the publication of Orientalism, Said’s criticism of Western science and art, especially of Oriental Studies, literature, fine art, architecture, and music, numerous controversies have been raised. Said already analyzed the linkage between Western music and imperialist power in his “Musical Elaborations,” and his perspective was further developed by Linda Nochlin through her criticisms of Western fine art. Said’s argument has provided a new critical perspective on the invasive and mystifying Oriental Studies in the West, and have, most importantly, been developed by Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha into discussions of people in the Third World, of the fabrication of “peoplehood” under colonial domination, and the contradictions and ambiguities of colonial policies. Said’s argument in Orientalism has become the guidepost that continuously promotes discourses which attempt to establish a new cultural system for the world based on the diversity of the non-West, anti-authoritative democracy, and the anti-logocentric mind.
The Environmental Problems and Movements in South Korea Im Nakpyeong, Chairperson of the Executive Committee Gwangju Federation of Environmental Movements (Translated by Hyeon-ock Lee)
The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 went to Ms. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental movement activist. This made an exceptional case, as the Nobel Peace Prize has awarded those who have performed in the fields of movements for the promotion of human rights and democracy, and for the eradication of wars and other conflicts. Her winning of the prize can be interpreted as a message that the environmental issue is now recognized as important as other issues like human rights and democracy, and is a problem to be solved for the peace and welfare of the world. Are the environmental problems being improved? Despite the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, in 1972, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, the environmental crisis of the world is still continued. As the climate changes, the global warming continues to
proceed and the glacier on the polar areas is melting; the rain forest, or the so-called “lungs of the earth,” is being decreased; the diversity of the animal species is also decreasing. The fresh-water source is severely contaminated: many around the world suffer from the water shortage, while the amount of toxic waste is increasing. The developed countries, in particular, are abusing the resources and energy through their socio-economic system of mass production and conspicuous consumption. The development policies of the 20th century are still in operation.
South Korea has one of the worst environmental and ecological conditions in the world. Since the early 1960s the country has pushed on policies for industrialization, urbanization, rapid growth, and export drive, and has achieved a remarkable economic growth. Behind the scenes of this rapid economic growth, the destruction of the environment and the ecology of the country has been also proceeded at a high speed. Korea has experienced an unprecedentedly rapid development and growth which was accompanied with a rapid environmental destruction. Even with the appearance of the Roh Muhyeon Administration, the old paradigm of growth and development is still prevailed. The Roh Administration takes the economic growth as one of the most important element for the national competitiveness in the time of globalization and neo-liberalism (new freedom). Environmental movement organizations in Korea have carried out their active struggle against the Roh Administration’s development-oriented economic policies that do not show any concern on the environment. The environmental organizations define the current situation as an “environmental emergency” and are putting their efforts together to change the Roh Administration’s policies. It is not quite clear how the government will respond to the recent activities and demands of these environmental organizations. The history of the environmental movement in Korea is not long. It can be said to have started in the late 1980s. The major environmental organizations were formed spontaneously in the early 1990s, are still in operation. Before the 1990s, the Korean society concentrated all its efforts to drive away the authoritative military dictatorships and establish democracy. The social movements throughout the 1990s have come to fruition in realizing democracy in South Korea. The environmental movement in Korea started to root slowly in this social context.
2. The Environmental Problems in South Korea South Korea is a country of 100.00㎢, 65% of which consists of mountains, 47 million population, four distinctive seasons, and of a rainfall of 1400~1500mm per year. The country has the world’s fourth highest density of population. Owing to the high manpower and the consistent economic development, the country has become the eleventh largest economic power with a GNP of more than US$10,000 per person. The imports and exports of South Korea have increased considerably: the country imports the fifth largest amount of petroleum in the world; its car manufacturing industry and the pelagic fishery also rank the fifth in the world. South Korea ranks the seventh in the world in terms of the number of nuclear plants, with 20 of them. As the result of the industrialization, more than 85% of the population in South Korea is living in cities. In the early 1960s, the country was a poor agriculture-oriented country, with a GNP of US$ 200 per person, the amount of export less than 100 million US dollars, about 30,000 automobiles, and around 85% of the population living in the farming and fishing communities. It, however, has achieved the economic growth at the rate of 5% per year, and transformed itself into a urbanized industrial country. Due to this economic growth, the country was able to overcome the poverty and is now enjoying the wealth and convenience to certain degrees. Housing is provided to more than 90% of the urban households and more than 13 million cars are supplied (1 car per 3.6 persons). Korean companies have advanced into more than 170 countries across the world, and the number of South Koreans who travel abroad has also consistently increased. In order to understand the environmental problems in Korea, one should first understand the economic growth and the development policies of the country. The growth-oriented policies of the country were not concerned with the importance of the environment and the ecology in the past. Their only interest was growth and development. The dictatorships for 30 years since the 1960s truly suit their nickname, ‘development dictatorship.’ Those dictatorial authorities took any environmental questioning as a challenge against their system and oppressed it. The governmental policies, which could not last long, made indiscreet developments prevalent. The general public also followed the governmental policies unconsciously as the
development could offer chances of employment to them, thus, chances to overcome the poverty. As the result of the development-oriented policies, the following environmental and ecological problems have been caused in South Korea: First, the injudicious land development was carried out consistently through those projects to build cities, industrial parks, those resorts with golf links, various roads and harbors. The abusive development and further exploitation of the land have resulted in fundamental transformations in the ecological environment of the country. A considerable portion of the land was submitted to meet the goals of development and growth, and, consequently, the ecosystems of the forests and the foreshores have been destroyed easily. Second, the mass production and the mass consumption have become a part of the daily life in South Korea. The development and growth-oriented policies changed the South Korean production-consumption structure at one stroke. In other words, the successful economic growth was made possible at the cost of different natural resources, water resources and energy resources. In the case of petroleum, South Korea is the fifth largest importing country in the world, and it comes to the ninth in terms of the total exhaust amount of the greenhouse gases. In the case of wood, South Korea is the second largest importing country in the world, following Japan. The process of the mass production and the mass consumption has brought out diverse and complex ecological and environmental problems. Third, due to the consistent urbanization and industrialization, every city has certain problems of environmental pollution. The overgrowth of the Capital area is indeed a serious problem that South Korea is confronted with. South Korea might be the only country where about 47% of the entire population is concentrated in the Capital area, as well as all the structures and functions of the political, economic, social, cultural, and educational fields. It is quite a natural phenomenon that all the cities in the area are suffering from the traffic-related pollutions such as the air pollution, the lack of greens, and the difficulties of securing safe drinking water and hygienic refuse disposal system. The industrial parks in South Korea are also confronted with the air pollution and the toxic wastewater and other toxic waste matters.
Fourth, although it is one of the biggest energy-consuming countries in the world, South Korea has not put out enough efforts to prevent the climate change. The country is exhausting the ninth largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world. The overconsumption of fossil energy means the mass exhaust of the air pollutant such as greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, the country doesn’t seem to pay enough attention to contriving the alternatives. At last, South Korea has 20 nuclear plants and is the second country in Asia to take the electric energy policy that is concentrated on the nuclear energy. The nuclear plants have been producing a huge amount of radioactive waste, but the country has not secured a permanent disposal site yet. The South Korean government, however, is building even more nuclear plants. The nuclear energy issue, especially the problems with radioactive waste disposal sites, has been one of the biggest environmental issues in South Korea for the last 20 years. As they have been exposed to various environmental pollutions caused by the abusive land development, the mass production and mass consumption structure, and the rapid urbanization and industrialization, the people in South Korea are now increasingly demanding safe drinking water, pollution-free food, and clean air for their healthy life. The South Korea government, nonetheless, has stated its will to revive the South Korean economy and is enforcing large-scaled development projects: the Saemangeum reclamation project which destroys the foreshore mud-field, the construction of the radioactive waste disposal site which is conditioned with further construction of nuclear plants, the construction of roads which destroys the forest ecosystem, and the construction of large-scaled dams to secure more water resource. The government will also accelerate the development of the Capital area, the construction of hundreds of new golf links which will damage the forest ecosystem, and the construction of tens of tourist and resort towns. Both the central government and the local self-governing bodies have special sectors concerning the environmental problems and execute a considerable portion of their budget. The government seems to emphasize the harmony among man, environment, and development and says that it will carry out policies for the ‘sustainable development’ as adopted at the UN conference; however, its actual policies
still aim at the economic growth and development. The South Korean government is carrying out the so-called “end of pipe” administration, i.e., the ex post facto measures, instead of planning the preventive measures in advance. The environmental policies of the government cannot control huge development projects. It is, thus, very likely that the environmental problems that our generation is experiencing now will be continued in the future, as the development-oriented policies will have seriously bad influences on the environment and the ecosystem. For this reason, the environmental organizations are required to carry out their struggle for a better environment.
3. The South Korean Environment Movement Against the Development Dictatorship Since last November, the environmental organizations in South Korea have been displaying their struggle against the development-oriented policies of the government, through certain extreme activities such as a sit-down strike in the middle of the street of Seoul and a hunger strike. Major organizations both from the Capital area and the local areas are putting collective efforts to achieve their goals. The major claim of the environmental movement organizations is the withdrawal of the large-scale development plans that will certainly destroy the environment. They claim that the government should stop the above-mentioned projects: the Saemangeum reclamation project, the energy policy dependent on the nuclear energy, the construction of roads, golf links, and leisure towns that will further the environmental destruction. The environmental movement organizations are demanding the government to reinforce the regulations and restrictions to preserve the environment, and abandon the development-oriented policies. The history of the environment movement is not long in South Korea. It was only in the early 1960s that the country started its full-out development, and the environment movement came to the front only in the late 1980s. Under the military dictatorship since the 1960s, the authoritative system didn’t allow any questioning, let alone opposing, on its policies for economic growth and development. With its great power behind, the dictatorship pushed its development policy. One-directional development, the development propelled with the power and authority—this was the socalled development dictatorship.
The major task of the society was to expel the dictatorial authority and realize democracy in South Korea. The environmental problems could not attract enough attention as a major social issue. The environmental organizations started to be formed themselves only when the political society became democratized in the late 1980s. The general public also started to claim for their environmental right as their basic right. It was because they were faced with severe environmental problems. Before and after 1990, several cases of large-scaled water contamination were reported one by one. The mass media headlined the cases, and drew the general public’s attention in the environmental problems. By the time of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, the environmental issues had drawn much attention from the international society. Korea was not exceptional and its nongovernmental organizations sought for the international solidarity to deal with environmental problems at the global level. With the vision of the “Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development” which was agreed upon at the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development Conference, the organizations started to put on the breaks on the development-oriented policies. At the moment, more than 500 environmental organizations are displaying their activities in every corner of the country, forming a nationwide network. The organizations have expanded at high speed since the early 1990s when there were only tens of the organizations. In the case of the organization that I belong to, it started with 1 central unit and 7 local units in the early 1990s, but now has 53 local units. Through this case can be observed a phase of the environmental movements in Korea. Each environmental movement organization has members and is run with the members’ financial support. They have been coping with diverse environmental and ecological problems, and different organizations have got together and displayed collective activities, faced with important environmental issues. The followings are some of the major examples of the environment movements in South Korea. First, the struggle against the construction of the nuclear plant and the radioactive waste disposal site, i.e., the struggle against the nuclear energy can be mentioned. Since the late 1980s, the environment movement organizations have been demanding the government to change its energy policy which is very dependent on the nuclear power. They have also opposed to the construction of the radioactive waste
disposal site premised on further constructions of the nuclear plant. Nevertheless, including the first nuclear plant built in 1978, altogether 20 nuclear plants are in operation at the moment, producing a tremendous amount of waste every year. Because of the organizations’ struggle against the construction of the radioactive waste disposal site, the government have not been able to select the building site yet. The issue of the nuclear plant and the radioactive waste disposal site is and will be one of the biggest environmental issues. Second, the save-the-energy campaign and the movement to introduce the renewable energy have been continued. South Korea is the 5th largest petroleumimporting country, and it exhausts the 9th largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world. Diverse actions have been taken to change this ‘environment-destructive energy policy’ into the ‘sustainable energy policy’. Movements to introduce the renewable energy, such as the solar energy, the wind force, the heat of the earth, and the hydrogen energy, have been continuously carried out. Faced with the crisis that the fossil energy will be exhausted at the end of the 21st century, the world should search for an alternative energy that can substitute the fossil and the nuclear energy. Third, there have been consistent movements to protect and preserve the mud flats on the foreshore. The Saemangum preservation movement carried out since the late 1990s makes a good example of the struggle against the one-sided development policy of the government. The western and southern coastlines of South Korea one of the four major mud flats in the world. The mud flats, however, have been considerably reduced due to the reclamation projects of the government since the 1960s. Most of the reclaimed lands have been turned into farmlands, industrial lands, or cities. As the environmental and ecological values and importance of mud flats are recognized, the environment movement organizations in South Korea started to prevent any more reclamation. Mud flats are rarely found around the world, and they provide us with a variety of species and marine resources, provide the nature with a purifying system, and provide water birds with a habitat. Fourth, the environmental organizations have also carried out the movements against dam constructions and the river-reviving campaigns. Due to the different development projects such as building cities, industrial parks and farmlands, the amount of water consumed has increased rapidly. To ensure the supply for the daily water consumption, the industrial water and the agricultural water, the government has built
dams up the rivers. Consequently, the amount of waste water increased, and the construction of dams resulted not only in the water contamination but also in the destruction of the ecosystem of rivers. Indeed, several cases of the contaminated tap water and rivers have drawn much attention from the society. Recognizing the environmental crises caused by the dam construction, the environment organizations have been displaying campaigns against the dam construction, and for the preservation of the ecosystem of rivers. Outside the above-mentioned movements and campaigns, the environment organizations have been coping with the environmental problems through campaigns to reduce and recycle wastes, to encourage the Green Consumption and the Green Transport, and to build the green city or the ecological polis. The organizations have been carrying out diverse publicity activities and education programs. There have been also very active international solidarity activities in the field of the environment movement.
4. For the ‘Sustainable’ Future The 21st century is said to be the century of environment. In this expression is implied that the 20th century was a century of environmental destruction, and the 21st century should be a century to get over the environmental destruction. It is also implied that we, the human beings, will have the future only when we overcome the environmental crisis. Many environmentalists have been warning us that if the environmental destruction is continued at the current speed, the future of the world will be quite dark. This can be easily demonstrated with the global warming phenomenon. If the global warming is continued, the unusual changes of the climate will be also continued and the damages from draught, flood, and typhoons will be accelerated. The glacier on the polar areas will melt, causing the rise of the sea level. This, at the end, will have a direct influence on the agricultural activities. We should overcome the environmental crisis. Then, how should we cope with it? This is a very difficult task. The UN is recommending every country to aim to build an environmentally sound and sustainable society, as the destructive development policies of the 20th century should not be continued. Nonetheless, most developed
countries including South Korea are still carrying out the ‘unsustainable’ development policies which give priority to the accumulation of the national wealth. In the case of South Korea, the ‘unsustainable’ development policies can be observed in its land uses, the energy policy, and the economic growth policy. South Korea, in a word, will continue to sacrifice its environment and ecosystem for its economy. This will be the same in the countries in the Third World. The environment organizations, however, are making sure that they will continue to carry out movements to overcome the environmental crisis and to build the ‘sustainable’ future. One of their major efforts is to carry out the struggle against the South Korean government. The ‘unsustainable’ development policy, if continued, will further the environmental destruction, and eventually kill off the life on the earth. The environmental destruction is the life destruction, which results in the deprivation of our basic right. To secure a safe and peaceful ground of life for our generation and the next generation, i.e., to secure ‘our sustainable future’, the environment movement should be carried on.
The Korean Student Movement: Major Cases and Their Characteristics Hogi Jeong Honam Culture Research Center, Chonnam National Unviersity (Translated by Hyeon-ock Lee) Introduction: the Context and the Goals of the Lecture The Korean student movement first appeared in the Japanese colonial period, and has taken important roles in the social movements in Korea in times of disorder and rapid change. The student movement has contributed to the democratization of South Korea, especially through the following social movements: the April Uprising in 1960, the struggle against the “June 3rd ROK-Japan Talk” in 1963, the Buma Uprising in 1979, the May 18 Uprising in 1980, the June Uprising and the struggle for the realization of the August 15th South-North Korean Students Meeting in 1987, the reunification movement in 1989, and the May Struggle in 1991. The student movement was not limited in the democratization movement in the politics, but closely related to every social movement in the fields of labor movements, peasant movements, movements for the poor, and educational movements. The student I.
movement activists participated in each field: one of the most frequent modes of their participation was the so-called “site entering,” i.e., for them to get a job in the actual working sites of the laborers. The government defined this “site entering” as a disguised employment and suppressed it. Having moved into various fields and leading the social movements, the participants of the past student movements are now contributing to the development of the democracy and human rights in the Korean society. This lecture will introduce some of the major Korean student movements and their contexts, focusing on their goals, activities, and sufferings. It will introduce the student movements largely in two perspectives: first, through the major cases of student organizations, and, second, the major cases of meetings and demonstrations occurred in the process of the student movements in Korea. The lecture will give a lot of space to the student movement in the 1980s when the democratization movement was very active in South Korea.
Cases of student Organizations The Case of The National League of Democratic Youths and Students (April 3, 1974)
● The Context With the appearance of the Yushin System that denied even the perfunctory democracy, the elated social movements became depressed in the early 1970s. The Park Junghee Administration invoked the garrison decree, as the struggle against the military training at school spread in 1971. The Park Administration took a strong measure: it stationed the army in educational institutions, took 1,889 students to the police station, and arrested 119 of them. As the Yushin System appeared after the leadership of the student movement was arrested on a large scale and pressed to the army, the student movement stopped taking overt actions. As observed in the case of “the NH Society” of Korea University, also known as the “Minuji” case, in June, 1973, the case of “the Black October Group,” or the case of “Hamseongji (cries)” of Chonnam National University, the student movement in this period hoarded up its ability and conducted its struggle through underground print materials. The Park Administration, however, came to face with high criticism both from the inside and the outside of the country due to “the Kim Daejung kidnapping case” in
August, 1974, and the raised antipathy against the Yushin System. The first demonstration against the Yushin System took place on October 2nd, 1974, led by the students at Seoul National University. With this demonstration, the student movement renovated its stagnant atmosphere and reassured its leadership in social movements. After the demonstration at Seoul National University, the anti-Yushin System demonstrations spread not only through different universities and high schools around the country but also through the societies of religion, journalism, and outside the public office. This nationwide struggle resulted in “the Million Signature-Collecting Campaign for the Petition for the Constitutional Amendment.” The Park Administration took a very firm line on this people’s movement, declaring the Emergency Measure No. 1 and No. 2 which said that no discussion on the constitution would be allowed and that those who violate this measure will be brought to the emergency court-martial and punished without the warrant of a judicial officer. At the same time, the Park Administration fostered an intense social atmosphere, purging the public officers (reprimanding 627 public officers including the then deputy prime minister), controlling the press media, and holding a nationwide anti-communist demonstration in the cause of the return of the fishing boat captured by the North Korean marine while working in the Yellow Sea. As the antipathy against the Yushin System grew intense despite this suppressive atmosphere, the Park Administration invoked the Emergency Measure No. 4 on April 3rd, 1974, claiming that the National League of Democratic Youths and Students tried to upset the government instigated by North Korea. The Emergency Measure No. 4 was an oppressive action that allowed the government to sentence the death penalty to those who participated in the demonstrations against it or criticized it, as well as the members of the National League of the Democratic Youths and Students, and to close down its violator’s school. ● The Outline At the beginning of 1974, the student movement searched for a new direction in their activities faced with the unprecedented iron-fisted rule in the form of the Emergency Measure No.1 and No.2. With the recognition that their struggle against the Yushin System could not have its effect through scattered, individual demonstrations at different universities, the leadership of the student movement centering around Seoul National University tried to form a nationwide, united organization for their struggle, i.e., the National League of Democratic Youths and Students. The leadership consisted of the senior student group that led earlier struggles
against the constitutional amendment for the third term of a president in 1969 and against the military training at school in 1971, and the junior student group that organized the demonstration at Seoul National University in October, 1973. The leadership tried to build a network among different universities and regions, as well as constant ties with the opposition personages and the religious figures. The plan, however, was detected by the authority, and the members of the leadership were chased and arrested by the investigation agencies. Consequently, the united demonstration planned for April 3rd, 1974, turned out small-sized scattered demonstrations at different universities. Altogether 169 persons concerned with the case of the National League of Democratic Youths and Students had been arrested until the end of November, 1974. ● The Characteristics The case of the National League of Democratic Youths and Students that resisted against the Park Junghee Administration under the slogan of “Overthrow the Yushin System,” has its significance in the history of the Korean student movement in several ways. First, the progressive student activists formed through the case of the National League of Democratic Youths and Students came to constitute the middle leadership of the democratization struggle since the mid 1970s. A considerable number of participants in the National League of Democratic Youths and Students supplemented the personnel for the social movements, devoting their lives in the democratization movement after their release from confinement, as well as connected each social movement in different fields in an organic way. Second, through the National League of Democratic Youths and Students was tried, though elementary, a nationwide organization and task allotment through linking different university and regional organizations. The leadership of the National League of Democratic Youths and Students prepared for a nationwide demonstration following the so-called “3.3.3 principle.” They tried to link different colleges of Seoul National University with the first three axes of the organization: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Law, and the Commercial College. They, then, tried to build a network among different universities in the Seoul area with the second three axes: Seoul National University, Yonsei University, and Korea University. The nationwide organization was to be completed with the linkage among the third axes: Seoul National University, Kyungpook National University, and Chonnam National University. The leadership also tried build a network that include high school students and the personages in the religious world. Third, to evaluate the level of the social consciousness of the leadership based
on the “Declaration for People, Nation, and Democracy” distributed under the name of the National League of Democratic Youths and Students, the characteristics of their management system and plans for social reformation seem to have much to be desired. Their line of struggle, however, became the guide post for the Korean society, being further developed especially in the mid 1980s.
2. The Case of the University Student Union Presidents Taken to the Police Station (May 17, 1980) ● The Context Street demonstrations by university students and emergency declarations by professors were spreading throughout the nation. The more intense the people’s demand for democratization became, the worse the governmental suppression became. The country was still under the martial law proclaimed at 4 p.m. on October 27, 1979, after the death of the former president, Park Junghee. The presidents of the student unions at 23 universities around the nation agreed upon holding nonviolent intramural demonstrations until further notice, and announced their statement demanding the withdrawal of the martial law. On May 14th, altogether 27 presidents of the university student unions resolved to hold street demonstrations, and around 100,000 students from 34 universities around the country participated in the street demonstrations. On May 15th, the street demonstrations of university students reached its climax, including the one in the square in front of the Seoul Station where more than 100,000 students gathered and demanded the withdrawal of the martial law. ● The Outline After the nationwide street demonstration on May 15th, 95 representatives from 55 universities around the country gathered together at Ehwa Women’s University and held the first meeting of the university student union presidents from 5:30 p.m. on May 16th. They decided to stop all demonstrations both on the campus and in the street temporarily, and were discussing their future measures, when hundreds of the policemen made a raid on the campus and arrested 18 members of the leadership. At midnight on May 17th, the martial law was expanded and airborne units marched into different universities. The students at school were taken to the police station indiscriminately, and agents from the joint investigation headquarters went to the houses of the student union leaders and of the students who returned from the army, and
arrested them at discretion. More than 200 students from about 38 universities around the country were either taken to the police station or arrested around May 17th. ● The Characteristics The leadership of the student movement decided to stop the street demonstrations that had been held for several days in a large scale, so that they would not give the cause for the military authorities to expand the martial law. The new military authorities expanded the martial law when the students’ demonstrations were in a state of lull, and oppressed the leadership of the student movement who formed the core of the demonstration for the withdrawal of the martial law and democratization. The new military authorities tried to shut out the resistance against the expansion of the martial law in advance, by separating the student movement from the people. The leadership of the student union of Chonnam National University hid themselves at the news that the leadership of each university student union had been taken to the police station. Around 11 p.m. on May 17th, a number of young people, students, professors, the leaders of different social movement organizations, and the opposition personages were taken by the martial army. When the leaders of the student union of Chonnam National University were still in refuge, the May 18 Uprising took place. With this case, the May 18 Uprising became isolated, and the struggle to search for the truth of the Uprising became fractured.
The Case of the Student Federation for Salvation of the Nation (October 17th, 1986)
● The Context The Student Federation for Salvation of the Nation was originated in the “Danjae’s Theory Study Group.” It was the first group of students that professed for an ideological movement, and insisting the followings: the immediate dismantlement of the ideology circle system which was the basic frame for the student movement in Seoul National University, the exposition of sectarianism, the abolition of the student number system and other vestiges of the feudalistic system in the student movement organizations. As an alternative to the existing system, the group also suggested to make a united organization for the student movement. The Student Federation for Salvation of the Nation assembled the student activists’ will that was scattered before due to the absence of a united organization,
formulating main principles and rules and organizing the group through persuading other students. The Federation had its inaugural meeting along with more than 100 students in Room 404 of the Natural Sciences College in Seoul National University on March 29, 1986. ● The Outline The Student Federation for Salvation of the Nation displayed full-out activities as “the Struggle Committee for Autonomy Against American and Democratization Against Fascism” was inaugurated on April 10th, 1986. The Federation divided their struggle sectors into the struggle for autonomy against America, the struggle for democratization against Fascism, and the struggle for the promotion of the Korean reunification, based on the NLPDR (National Liberation People’s Democracy Revolution). In May, 1986, the Federation carried out their movement through “the Special Struggle Committee for May,” demanding the punishment of those responsible for the massacre in Gwangju and the constitutional amendment for democracy. On May 21st, they occupied the U.S. Cultural Center in Busan and staged a sit-down demonstration. As the Federation was exposed to the intelligence service, many relevant persons were arrested. Under such conditions, the Federation pushed on a plan to organize a student movement federation in order to construct and solidify the nationwide solidarity. The Federation was dismantled practically when the Jeon Duhwan regime quelled the founding ceremony of “the Patriotic Students Struggle Federation” held in Konkuk University on October 28. ● The Characteristics The Student Federation for Salvation of the Nation that created a sensation amongst universities and in Korean society from the end of 1985 until the early 1986. Their arguments and activities have their significance in the history of student movement in Korea. They pointed out the U.S. as the source of the dominating power in Korean society and argued that the ultimate reformation of the Korean society would be possible only through the anti-America struggle. In this context, the Federation suggested the Anti-American Save-the-Nation and Reunification Front as the main body of the reformation. The federation has its significance in professing for an ideological movement for the first time in Korea.
The Case of the Constituent Assembly Group (May, 1986 ~ February, 1987)
● The Context The demands for democratization through a constituent amendment raised since the February 12th general election in 1985, brought on the political situation that the entire country was divided into two groups, with the meeting between the governmental and the opposition parties at the Presidential Residence on April 30th, 1986. Some supported the constitution protection while others supported the constitutional amendment. The social movement sector in Korea, including the student movement, carried out their struggle to establish the constitution for unification and to abolish the fascist constitution. The foundation of the Promotion Committee for the Constitutional Amendment by the New People’s Party (Shinmindang) in May, 1986, further instigated the nationwide struggle against the dictatorship of the Jeon Duhwan regime, and led to the “May 3rd Incheon Meeting.” As the New People’s Party participated in the “National Assembly Special Committee for the Constitution,” the political situation of the conservative vs. the united seemed to be formed. The Jeon Duhwan regime, however, suppressed the social movement after the Asian Game in September, 1986, claiming that the discussions on the constitutional amendment were breaking up the public opinion, and made various political moves to converse the opposition parties into their system. ● The Outline Around May, 1986, the Constituent Assembly Group asserted the establishment of the people’s democratic constitution through convening the Constituent Assembly, not through amending the constitution to introduce the direct presidential election system. They insisted on convening “the People’s Assembly for the Constitution Establishment” for their struggle. The group’s affiliated student organization, “the Student Struggle Committee for the People and Democracy” organized “the National Student Struggle Committee for the People and Democracy against Imperialism and Fascism” in may, 1986. The student organization carried out activities around the Seoul area during the summer vacation, 1986, including the sit-in demonstration at the headquarters of the New People’s Party and the propagation in the Seongnam industrial zone. The Constituent Assembly Group argued that South Korea was under the indirect rule of the imperialism as its new colony, and advocated the political
independence of the nation. They also observed that the South Korean society had experienced a condense development of capitalism through subordinate relationship with the powerful, and defined the Korean capitalism as the monopolistic capitalism of a new colonial state. The Constituent Assembly Group recognized the then situation as expecting a revolution, thus, decided to take the preparatory tasks for the impending revolution. One of the most important tasks was to equip the people with the consciousness as the subject of the state power. Recognizing that the constitutional issue was not only a matter of the “comprehensive system reformation struggle” (the struggle for all the democratic rights), but also a “medium for the power struggle,” the group insisted on defining the period as a “constitutional struggle period.” They argued that the constitutional problem could be solved only through exposing the problems of the power (i.e., the problems of the subject and the methodology in establishing the constitution), specifically, through summoning the constituent assembly. From their viewpoint, the New People’s Party’s proposal of the constitutional amendment for the direct presidential election was a mere timeserving measure. Though a great number of students were arrested related to the Constituent Assembly Group, to limit the category to those at the core of the organization, the number sums up to around 20. ● The Characteristics The Constituent Assembly Group had its aims in resisting the authoritative Jeon Duhwan Administration, and claimed to overthrow the regime, to establish a democratic constitution, and to secure the basic rights of the people. Their activities and inclination contributed to the expansion of the student movement into various fields of the democratization movement in Korea, and left a great influence on late social movements as well as the student movement.
The Case of the National Council of the University Student Representatives (August, 1987 ~ March, 1993)
● The Context Through the experience of the June Uprising in 1987, the Seoul Council of the University Student Representatives recognized the difficulties in the qualitative and quantitative expansion of the people’s struggle due to the lack of systematic
organization, and suggested to establish a nationwide leadership that can unite the consciousness and practices of the struggle. In 1987, the student movement had two factions: the National Liberation faction and the Constituent Assembly Group faction. Those in the National Liberation faction, which formed the majority of the student movement then, constituted local organizations, such as the Seoul Council of the University Student Representatives, the Student Union Federation in the Honam Area, and the Busan Student Union Council. After the June Uprising, these local organizations contrived a national union, and pushed on the establishment of the National Council of the University Student Representatives, centering around the student unions of each university. The National Council of the University Student Representatives had its inauguration on August 19th, 1987, in Chungnam University where approximately 30,000 students gathered from 95 universities around the country. In the declaration that the students adopted for the inauguration were included their claims for the dictatorial military regime to resign, for the United Democratic Party (Tongilminjudang, the opposition party) to reflect the people’s interests and demands in its political negotiations with the government party, for the army to keep neutrality, and for the US to stop intervening in the domestic affairs of South Korea. With an indirect election through the representatives of the 6 regions and 19 districts in the country, the students elected Inyeong Lee (Student President of Korea University) as the chairman, and Sangho Woo (Student President of Yeonsei University) and three other students as the vice-chairman of the National Council of the University Student Representatives. ● The Outline The National Council of the University Student Representatives carried out activities through the following struggles for autonomy, democracy, and reunification: the fair election monitoring group during the presidential election in December, 1987; the struggle to achieve the South-North Youths and Students’ Meeting on June 10th and August 15th in 1988; the November struggle to liquidate the Gwangju issue and the 5 th Republic; Im Sukyeong’s participation in the Pyeongyang commemoration in 1989; organizing the August 15 national meeting in 1990; the struggle to commemorate and succeed the spirit of the May 18 Uprising. Facing the presidential election in December, 1987, those in the student movement were divided into two factions according to their positions: those who advocated the “critical support” to Kim Daejung, and those who advocated the
“unification of the candidate for the opposition parties.” In this context, the Constituent Assembly Group came to participate in the National Council of the University Student Representatives from 1988. To highlight some of the major activities of the National Council of the University Student Representatives until its dissolution in March, 1993: III.
Major Meetings and Demonstrations Related to the Student Movement The April Revolution (February 28th ~ April 26th, 1960)
● The Context The April Revolution started as the resistance against the injustice and illegal conducts of the Lee Seungman Administration during the presidential election on March 15th, 1960. Its actual cause, however, was the explosion of the people’s anger against the Lee Administration’s contradictory structure in general. Through the March 15 election, the Lee Administration of the 1st Republic committed unfair conducts mobilizing all the state institutions in order to grasp the political power again. The state power oppressed the opposition parties and terrorized the candidates of the opposition parties and the voters even in broad daylights. The police suppressed the demonstrations against the violence and injustice of the Lee Administration, instead of monitoring the unfairness of the election. The political gangs, especially, such as the anticommunist youths groups used violence all around the country and many were victimized by them. As the result, Lee Seungman won the election with 9,663376 votes amongst 11,196,490, and Lee Gibung became the vice-president with 8,337,597 votes. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, won 1,843,758 votes. ● The Outline The demonstrations to censure the unfair election started from the protest against the Lee Administration stopping the people from participating the campaign meeting of Jang Myeon, the vice-president candidate of the Democratic Party on February 28th, 1960. It was high school students in the Gyeongsangbuk-do area who led the demonstration. After the demonstration, the situation seemed to resume peace, but, students’ demonstrations for the freedom of the schools and for As for the ideological aspect of the student and the intellectual’s movement in the
1980s, one of the most distinctive features is the appearance of the class perspective and the nationalist perspective. In other words, the students and the intellectuals in South Korea took their people’s or their nation’s interests and tasks as theirs. Even in the fields of culture, art, and academia, the national democratization was the most important task
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