Hung at crane 85, how will the Hanjin incident end?

The following is an unauthoritative personal translation of a news article appeared on a progressive online media “Pressian” in Jul. 24. It is an article with a gallery of images capturing some critical moments of Hanjin incident and the struggle of Jin-Suk Kim during her 200 days of crane-top protest. This post will be removed on the request of the author of original article or “Pressian”. The original article (in Korean) and images can be located by the link at the bottom.

Layoff was the price they had to pay for making ships while making their fingers to bones. So, it was outrageous from the start; it was an array of irony. So was the logic that the responsibility of worsening management should be paid by workers who did not participate in it. It was rather brazen than cold hearted of the company to say that layoffs are justified because they don’t have any workloads left while it set up a factory in a country where labor is cheap and sent all workloads to them. The government who willingly defended this position ignored the voice of a soul who had to climb up a high-rise crane even though it argues that it upholds the law and order and cherishes the security of its own people.

The conclusion yet to come may not be that unfamiliar. The Hanjin incident is in fact reminding us the old memories of Ssangyong Motors and Kiryoong Electronics.

The strike by Ssangyong Motors union was quelled in unimaginable ways and, although the company made a promise to reinstate some of the union workers, it never kept it. Afterwards, union workers who participated in the strike had to witness cold bodies of their colleagues and their families be laid into coffins and carried away. The struggle of Kiryoong Electronics dragged for 6 years. Although they finally won the reinstatement, only about 10 left to the final moment to enjoy it after a long, desperate fight. No side won. Under Korean labor reality, how much the result of a layoff can change from these two cases?

Over 10 thousand citizens participated in the first and second hope bus rides, urging peaceful resolution of Hanjin incident. Those were marches of self-reflection on a society where profits of businessmen come first of all things. Those were souls to witness why one person’s ‘reckless’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘relentless’ crane-top protest was inevitable for themselves. They were also workers who knew these things were their own stories.

One photographer in the line put it in this way.

“It was the frustration of those who can only live by labor that started the engines of hope buses. So, it was hopelessness not the hope that the buses carry. Will there be any way we can unload them all to the despair crane 85 which stands like a giant monster?”

One media said “Busan locked in by a 40M crane.” Wrong. It should have been ‘Korea locked in an unfair, obsolete yoke of money.’

It is 200 days since Jin-Suk Kim, a member of direction committee of Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, started high-rise crane protest in the Youngdo shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction. Crane 84 which shares the same rail with crane 85 finished its trial runs already and prepares for moving to crane 85 side. Police swat team is waiting for an order to get on board the crane 84. The ‘salt flower’ dreams fall down every day.

Photographers sent us their own recollections of Hanjin incident. They recorded the back of the weakest breadwinners of our time. They caught the moment where people who, covered with thick oil stains, knew nothing but making ships got fired. They showed us the images of the future in the eyes of children. And they recorded the brutality of paid violence and the brazenness of a cold-blooded businessman.

Will the ending of Hanjin story change? Who knows.

The 3rd hope buses will leave in Jul. 30.


One comment

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