The First Major Electoral Victory For The Occupy Wall Street Movement?

p10b…In South Korea, not the United States. The newly elected mayor of Seoul is Park Won Soon, a longtime activist and human rights lawyer who ran on an explicit “Occupy Wall Street platform” of challenging social inequality. Could this happen here as well? Via New Left Project:

Park Won Soon, the newly elected mayor of Seoul, is “perhaps the first politician to win with an Occupy Wall Street platform”.

Park Won Soon ran on a platform of social justice. The previous mayor of Seoul had resigned over the issue of school lunches, Park pushed for the universal provision of lunches to all Seoul school children. He also promised to direct social services to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Korea has become increasingly divided in terms of rich and poor, and Seoul has some of the richest and some of the poorest people in the country. Park pledged to be the mayor of all of Seoul and not just the wealthy. His opponent Na Kyung-won was a wealthy businesswoman. The Park campaign characterized her as part of the 1 percent, whereas Park himself would represent the 99 percent.

The OWS movement in Korea hasn’t been particularly large. About 250 protesters gathered in front of the Financial Services Commission for a weekend of demonstrations in the middle of October. But since then, the focus of the movement for economic justice has been defeating the KORUS Free Trade Agreement.

Park Won Soon is a long-time civic activist who was expelled from school in the mid-1970s for his student activism. Later, as a human rights lawyer, he was active in the democratization movement of the 1980s. In 1994, he helped found one of the pivotal civil society organizations in South Korea: People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD). This organization focused on expanding the notion of democracy beyond the narrow definition of voting. In those early days of Korean democracy, and to a certain extent even today, Korean politics is rather opaque, still subject to the influence of powerful families and wealthy chaebols (conglomerates). PSPD has done much to bring transparency to government and to dispel what Koreans call jeongkyung yuchak (political-economic collusion). After PSPD, he went on to create the Beautiful Foundation and a thinktank called Hope, both devoted to principles of economic justice and sustainability.

Park’s supporters, during his mayoralty race, extended far beyond his civil society followers. Many Koreans are disgusted with political as usual. They dislike the ruling Grand National Party. But many are not particularly happy about the opposition either. They supported Park because he is not a politician. Much of his support came from younger voters.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Well, we can hope so.
     
    I just wish and pray that Mr. Park has enough vision to avoid the rat-trap of pragmatism whilst in office.  If he’s smart, he’ll just see this as one important, but very incremental step in turning the tide rhetorically and morally instead of substantively.I hope he pursues strategies and policies that continue to underline the unhealthy vicegrip of corporate elites over public resources.  In the long run, it’ll be much more productive to be an honorable failure than a temporizing whimp, like Obama.  The problem is moral comprimise, not the inability to identify solutions.
     
    I realize that’s actually asking the man to become a martyr, which is a shocking thing.  But it does seem to be what the times are calling for.

    • MadHierophant

      Sadly, that does seem to be what it takes for people to get their shit together as a society…

  • Anonymous

    Well, we can hope so.
     
    I just wish and pray that Mr. Park has enough vision to avoid the rat-trap of pragmatism whilst in office.  If he’s smart, he’ll just see this as one important, but very incremental step in turning the tide rhetorically and morally instead of substantively.I hope he pursues strategies and policies that continue to underline the unhealthy vicegrip of corporate elites over public resources.  In the long run, it’ll be much more productive to be an honorable failure than a temporizing whimp, like Obama.  The problem is moral comprimise, not the inability to identify solutions.
     
    I realize that’s actually asking the man to become a martyr, which is a shocking thing.  But it does seem to be what the times are calling for.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, that does seem to be what it takes for people to get their shit together as a society…

  • Tuna Ghost

    Unfortunately, as those in the know are all too aware, Mr. Park is in fact a robot owned and operated by Samsung

  • Tuna Ghost

    Unfortunately, as those in the know are all too aware, Mr. Park is in fact a robot owned and operated by Samsung

    • Jin The Ninja

      Aigoo….

    • Liam_McGonagle

      Okay, that was funny.

      But is it even metaphorically true?  Of course I’d never heard of Park before in my life, so I haven’t a clue.  Wouldn’t doubt it.  We’ve all seen the ol’ switcheroo before.

      But it could happen.  I’m a big fan of Littlewood’s corollary of the Law of Truly Large Numbers:  One miracle per month.

      • Tuna Ghost

        The situation in South Korea isn’t as bad as the 90′s in terms of chaebols like Samsung, LG, Daewoo, etc.; back then these guys accounted for over half the nation’s GDP, but these days the five or so biggest still make up around a third.  It is still very protectionist, a lot of people like to call it corporate socialism.  The state doesn’t own the companies, the companies own the state.  

        It’s an exaggeration, but that doesn’t make the country any less protectionist.  All the uproar over free trade is due to its threat to the supremacy of Korean companies in Korea; and the political system there is no less crooked than ours so it’s hard to believe a guy with any real anti-corporate plans would get anywhere.  

        Add to that the fact that South Korea weathered the economic upheaval pretty well in comparison to everyone else so the anti-corporate sentiment isn’t nearly as strong there.  Koreans are generally pretty proud of the way their country has risen from being the Poland of Asia to become a major economic powerhouse, and that rise was due in no small part to the chaebols.  

        Then again, if Park really was part of the democratic movement in the 80′s, that’s some fairly serious street cred.  Few people realize how fucked up some of the military dictatorships were in South Korea right up to that point–thousands disappearing into secret prisons, thousands simply disappearing off the face of the earth.  A protest in 1980 ended up with a massacre of almost a thousand civilians (although the government study, surprise surprise, reported significantly less).  During the 80′s economic growth combined with shady favoritism (under yet another military dictatorship that dealt with dissent pretty harshly) led to a dramatic increase in the gap between rich and poor, so the Occupy movement might resonate pretty strongly with Park.  He would remember protesting financial inequality, and would he definitely remember the heavy hand used by the government to quell dissent.   

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Hope & Change Korean style

    “Promise them anything
    but give them no change!”

  • BuzzCoastin

    Hope & Change Korean style

    “Promise them anything
    but give them no change!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Madwriter Danny Adams

    Sure it could happen here, just as easily as it did with Tea Party candidates. OWS critics are breathing sighs of relief about the physical camps being broken up, but I doubt the physical presence matters anymore. OWS has altered the public dialogue permanently. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see OWS candidates in 2012 who are ready to politically “occupy” Wall Street.

  • Danny Adams

    Sure it could happen here, just as easily as it did with Tea Party candidates. OWS critics are breathing sighs of relief about the physical camps being broken up, but I doubt the physical presence matters anymore. OWS has altered the public dialogue permanently. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see OWS candidates in 2012 who are ready to politically “occupy” Wall Street.

    • MoralDrift

      assuming the two party duopoly isn’t a living breathing reality? The only way you will get change in America is to literally dismantle the current system. 

      I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for South Korea either, being a US protectorate and all. But…I applauded Mr. Park’s victory when it happened and sometimes incremental changes really can make life easier for people…so theres some positivity

  • Jin (仁)

    Aigoo….

  • Anonymous

    assuming the two party duopoly isn’t a living breathing reality? The only way you will get change in America is to literally dismantle the current system. 

    I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for South Korea either, being a US protectorate and all. But…I applauded Mr. Park’s victory when it happened and sometimes incremental changes really can make life easier for people…so theres some positivity

  • Anonymous

    Okay, that was funny.

    But is it even metaphorically true?  Of course I’d never heard of Park before in my life, so I haven’t a clue.  Wouldn’t doubt it.  We’ve all seen the ol’ switcheroo before.

    But it could happen.  I’m a big fan of Littlewood’s corollary of the Law of Truly Large Numbers:  One miracle per month.

  • Tuna Ghost

    The situation in South Korea isn’t as bad as the 90′s in terms of chaebols like Samsung, LG, Daewoo, etc.; back then these guys accounted for over half the nation’s GDP, but these days the five or so biggest still make up around a third.  It is still very protectionist, a lot of people like to call it corporate socialism.  The state doesn’t own the companies, the companies own the state.  

    It’s an exaggeration, but that doesn’t make the country any less protectionist.  All the uproar over free trade is due to its threat to the supremacy of Korean companies in Korea; and the political system there is no less crooked than ours so it’s hard to believe a guy with any real anti-corporate plans would get anywhere.  

    Add to that the fact that South Korea weathered the economic upheaval pretty well in comparison to everyone else so the anti-corporate sentiment isn’t nearly as strong there.  Koreans are generally pretty proud of the way their country has risen from being the Poland of Asia to become a major economic powerhouse, and that rise was due in no small part to the chaebols.  

    Then again, if Park really was part of the democratic movement in the 80′s, that’s some fairly serious street cred.  Few people realize how fucked up some of the military dictatorships were in South Korea right up to that point–thousands disappearing into secret prisons, thousands simply disappearing off the face of the earth.  A protest in 1980 ended up with a massacre of almost a thousand civilians (although the government study, surprise surprise, reported significantly less).  During the 80′s economic growth combined with shady favoritism (under yet another military dictatorship that dealt with dissent pretty harshly) led to a dramatic increase in the gap between rich and poor, so the Occupy movement might resonate pretty strongly with Park.  He would remember protesting financial inequality, and would he definitely remember the heavy hand used by the government to quell dissent.   

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