“Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators, we are fighting the same fight!

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in online media <OhmyNews> on October 6, 2011, regarding a highly symbolic phone call cheering speech made by Jin-suk Kim who has been protesting on crane no 85 in Youngdo shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction requesting the withdrawal of massive layoff of union workers since January 6 this year to Occupy Wall Street demonstrators during a general assembly. Original article (in Korean) can be located by the link at the bottom. All rights are reserved to authors of original article or <OhmyNews>. This post will be scrapped by their request accordingly.

Live message brought to New York Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstrators

OWS crowd during general assembly

Jin-suk Kim, a member of director committee Korean Confederation of Trades Union Busan branch, shared a message of solidarity with 'Occupy the Wall Street' demonstrators over a phone call during the general assembly around 9:30 PM ET on October 8. Image of demonstrators during general assembly. (Photo by Kyoung-june Choi)

OWS listening to Jin-suk Kim's phone call

Jin-suk Kim, a member of director committee, Korean Confederation of Trades Union Busan branch who has been protesting over a tower crane in Youngdo shipyard of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction, Busan, sent a message of solidarity over a phone call to 'Occupy the Wall Street' demonstrators who have been protesting for 3 weeks in Liberty Plaza Park (Zuccotti Park) near Manhattan Stock Exchange New York in October 8 evening ET (October 9 morning in Korean time). As demonstrators of about 2,500 cheer by the message of Jin-suk Kim, Kab-soo Seol (in the middle) who planned this event and interpreted messages in between lets Jin-suk Kim to hear the cheers of OWS demonstrators over the phone. (Photo by su lee)

“My friends who fight in Wall Street, the heart of Neo-liberalism. This is Jin-suk Kim. Great to talk to you!”

Jin-suk Kim on ‘crane #85’ in Busan met OWS demonstrators in New York.

Jin-suk Kim, a member of director committee Korean Confederation of Trades Union Busan branch, sent a message of solidarity to OWS demonstrators during a general assembly over the phone interpreted through a local Korean around 9:30 PM in October 8 ET (10:30 AM in October 9 Korean time).

Jin-suk Kim has been protesting on a tower crane no 85 in Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) for 277 days (at the time of report) requesting the withdrawal of massive layoff. OWS demonstrators have been protesting the greed of financial capitalists and economic inequality for 3 weeks in Liberty Plaza Park (Zuccotti Park) near Manhattan Stock Exchange, New York. OWS demonstration that originally started from New York not only spreads to all over US such as Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles but also to all around the world such as Canada, Australia, and Japan.

Jin-suk Kim “very interested in news from the heart of neoliberalism”

Demonstrator and leaflet

As Jin-suk Kim delivered a live message of solidarity to OWS demonstrators around 9:30 PM ET in October 8, Christine Turner (21) who participated in the demonstration is showing a leaflet of Jin-suk Kim's story of tower crane protest. (Photo by Kyoung-june choi)

Over the phone, Jin-suk Kim said “Since Korean government accepted the bail-out package from IMF in 1997, 900 thousand Koreans lose their jobs a year and become irregular workers or, unfortunately, die. You who demonstrate in Wall Street New York now illustrate this kind of tragedy is not limited to Korea; rather it is a pain people all around world actually suffer.”

She then emphasized “Korean workers and citizens are really interested in your news from the heart of neoliberalism and support you. People who rode Hope Bus to see me said only one thing. ‘Let’s fight until the end with smile on our face.'”

About 2500 demonstrators gathered at Liberty Plaza Park applauded and cheered at Kim’s message. Originally, Kim was supposed to make a live speech to OWS demonstrators over the phone but changed to deliver a short message instead due to on-site troubles.

Since OWS demonstrators were not allowed to use microphones or loudspeakers, segments of Kim’s message were relayed through ‘human loudspeakers’ frequently. This worked like, when Kim said something, someone who heard the message over the phone interpreted it in English which was repeated by another one nearby loud and relayed in split sentences through a series of loud shouts so that people far away could hear.

Since there were so many people, Kim’s message had to be relayed 2 ~ 3 steps to allow people far away to hear it. However, people showed strong sense of solidarity by making louder and stronger voices when shouting the name ‘Jin-suk Kim’.

Christine Turner (21) who had been joining the demonstration since 2 days ago expressed her surprise “unbelievable” when she was told that Jin-suk Kim had been protesting on crane no 85 for 277 straight days. Regarding Kim’s message, she said “Her speech over the phone this evening here is really a great thing. We including me realized for the first time today that the kind of thing we cannot understand had actually taken place in Korea.” She then emphasized “Of course that kind of thing also happens here and laid-off workers experience a lot of troubles too. We’re all 99%. I totally agree with her speech.”

General assembly items

October 8 evening, one OWS demonstrator, noting the over-the-phone speech by Jin-suk Kim as the first general assembly agenda, writes it on the board. (Photo by Kyoung-june Choi)

In particular, Kim’s message of solidarity drew much attention since it was the first agenda of tonight’s general assembly. As much as this was the first time an issue not from domestic US but from abroad was addressed in general assembly, the fact that it was chosen as the first agenda of tonight’s assembly was really exceptional because general assembly is the highest decision making organization enabling direct democracy of OWS demonstrators.

OWS demonstrators discuss all important matters in general assemblies twice a day starting from practical issues regarding protest site to future demonstration directions of how to proceed. All demonstrators are deeply attached to the general assembly; they even stop what they are doing and attend it when it is being held. Sometimes, celebrities like Michael Moore who suuport OWS demonstration are invited to it.

“Speech to OWS demonstrators, an international event of tremendous meaning”

Kab-soo Seol (42, office worker) who planned the phone call between OWS demonstrators and Jin-suk Kim and actually interpreted the call in between said “While I was thinking about what I could do for Jin-suk Kim as a Korean living in US happened the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demonstration. Since it is a struggle representing 99% of the world (other than the 1% who monopolize wealth), I thought I should address Jin-suk Kim’s fight here.”

Leaflets and signs

Jin-suk Kim, a member of director committee Korean Confederation of Trades Union Busan branch, shared a message of solidarity with 'Occupy the Wall Street' demonstrators over a phone call during the general assembly around 9:30 PM (local time) on October 8. The leaflet introducing Jin-suk Kim's struggle lies among hand-held signs of OWS demonstrators. (Photo by Kyoung-june Choi)

The OWS demonstration and HHIC workers’ struggle are actually linked together under the name of fury against issues such as perils of neoliberalism guised under the name of competition and efficiency, endless greed and corruption by the haves, unfair society that rushes to 1:99 super-polarization beyond 20:80 polarization.

He said, “OWS demonstration does not have a leader who spearheads future directions and so is completely different from well-organized Korean demonstrations. So I had to do everything from scratch brute force. Finishing it, I am not completely satisfied with some of the things like the phone call was a little too short, but I guess the fact that I introduced Jin-suk Kim to them might be the most important.”

Young supporter of Jin-suk Kim

Putting on the badge of support for Jin-suk Kim, Yoon-suh Lee (14) who visited the OWS demonstration site with her aunt said "I think Jin-suk Kim who fights against a bad company Hanjin Heavy Industries is really great. I was really impressed that she and demonstrators here would talk to each other over the phone today." (Photo by Kyoung-june Choi)

About 10 Koreans in US who had heard the news that Jin-suk Kim would speak to OWS demonstrators at general assembly also came to the Liberty Plaza Park. They also handed out printouts containing materials on Jin-suk Kim and indiscriminate layoff status by HHIC, records on hope bus events so far etc.

Yoon-kyoung Lim, a painter staying in New York, pointed out “Although Korean situation where democracy retreated has been aggravated more than US, they both have serious problems. Since big companies also monopolize tremendous wealth by themselves in US, the gap between rich and poor is really huge.”

She then added “OWS demonstration and Jin-suk Kim’s crane protest are all symbolic events in both countries respectively. So the sheer fact that Jin-suk Kim spoke to OWS demonstrators over the phone is truly meaningful since it means the same problem is shared beyond the limits of national boundaries.”

She also said, “In OWS demonstration, people bring up diverse issues and share them together showing strong will to solve those issues together. Today’s speech by Jin-suk Kim will be a good chance to set up solidarity between OWS demonstrators and Korean hope bus riders and solve problems they share together.”

The following is the full script of Jin-suk Kim’s speech that was to be made to OWS demonstrators but dropped at the last moment due to on site troubles.

“OWS demonstration is winning … Fight, until the end, together, with smile!”

Brave citizens of Wall Streat, the center of world capitalism and the heart of neoliberalism,

This is crane no 85 Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction in Busan Korea. I occupied this crane last January 6 and has spent 277 days here since then.

Since Korean government accepted bailout package by IMF, 900 thousand workers lost their jobs a year, became irregular workers or died. Of 13 million total workers, 9 million are irregular workers and 40 commit suicide a day, ending their painful lives with their own hands.

You OWS demonstrators who fight at Wall Street, New York actually demonstrate things like these are not limited only to Korea but are pains shared by people all around the world. Although the workers of Hanjin Heavy Industries who fight with me are far away from you, we believe the cause we fight for and the world we want to live in would be the same.

A society where labor is respected and human beings come before money. Our dreams are the same. For that dream, hope buses brought citizens all over Korea who came see me. Even last night, police fired water cannons to peaceful hope bus riders in this cold weather and took away 58 of them by force. This has been the consistent reaction by police from the 1st to 5th events. But, we never gave up. We fought back.

We Korean workers and citizens are really interested in your news from the heart of neoliberalism and we really stand by you. You are winning now. We move one step closer to the world we’ve been dreaming of.

So far, our Korean Hope Bus riders shouted only one slogan. Now, I hand it over to you brave citizens in Wall Street. Fight, until the end, together, with smile!

Jin-suk Kim still in high spirits

As 5th 'Hope Bus' started from all over Korea to demand withdrawal of massive layoff by HHIC and to support Jin-suk Kim, Jin-suk Kim on crane no 85 of HHIC Youngdo shipyard is raising her both hands up high to her supporters below.

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  1. Wonderful ! global solidarity !

  2. Do you know how I could get in touch with Kyoung-june Choi for photo reprint permission?

    Kyung-jun Choi’s twitter id is @reporterchoi. Maybe you can try this. (I recently noticed that his spelling in English is Kyung-jun Choi not Kyoung-june Choi.) HTH. If you need further information, please let me know. TH

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