The Invisible Hands Behind South Korea’s Errand Men

by Micheal Quinn

In the nighttime, Rumi is woken up via a noise outdoor. Dozens of ‘errand men’ in blue vests and white helmets begin smashing the window of her fried hen restaurant with steel pipes. In no time, they spoil inside and drag her out. She resists fiercely. Meanwhile, Rumi’s mom, livid, receive right into a vehicle and charges at the men however fails to hit them. As they yank her out of the vehicle, she hits her head at the ground and loses cognizance. She dies some hours later.

Psychokinesis, a tragicomedy released on Jan. 31, depicts privately employed safety guards using violence against regular citizens, and the normally-invisible arms directing the guards. The movie is primarily based on Seoul’s notorious Yongsan Incident. In 2009, creation businesses running on ‘redeveloping’ parts of the town’s Yongsan district hired personal security firms to forcefully evict citizens and shopkeepers. In a war of words among citizens, guards and police, the transient structure wherein residents were conserving a sit down-in protest caught fireplace, killing six humans.

In South Korea, privately hired protection guards, referred to as yongyeok (‘errand men’), had been normally used to power out residents and business tenants from regions marked for redevelopment. They raid protest web sites without warning, often masking their faces with masks to hide their identities. Their common violence has prompted a few to label them ‘outsourced gangsters.’

Yongyeok also is often visible at exertions strikes. Compared to workers in Japan and Taiwan, those in South Korea have relied extra heavily on strikes to specific grievances at employers. In latest days, such protests by irregular employees had been at the upward thrust.

Irregular workers — employees on fixed-time period contracts, regularly without an activity safety or union club — had been forming unions in their own, which corporations regularly refuse to recognize. In go back, the employees have taken to keeping take a seat-ins as a remaining lodge.

For employers, Yong Yeon have emerged as a smooth way to the trouble of protesting employees. Hired guys no longer only forcefully smash strikes however provide temporary hard work to make up for employees shortages. Over the last decades, big agencies like GM Korea, E-land and SK Hynix have all deployed yongyeok in reaction to moves.

Perhaps the high-quality-acknowledged instance is that of Ssangyong Motors. In 2009, the organization dismissed round 1,000 everyday personnel as a part of its restructuring plan. Fired people occupied a manufacturing unit for 76 days inside the city of Pyeongtaek, a ninety-minute pressure from Seoul, traumatic reinstatement. Management locked the protesters inside and an army of yongyeok prevented outsiders from passing in meals and water. NGOs and civic corporations heavily criticized the company for violating workers’ human rights.

“They don’t deal with us as people. They stamped on us and beat us with clubs,” a union member told In-depth 60 Minutes, a South Korean TV display that makes a specialty of investigative journalism.

Companies can effortlessly deflect blame with the aid of describing the moves as illegal and justifying use of force using yongyeok as a form of self-defense. In some cases, Yong Yeon may also goad protesters into using violence.

“We initiate the protestors first. If they fight returned after being crushed up, we take the video as proof and pass it on to management,” a nameless yongyeok instructed In-intensity.
Government figures have frequently condoned the use of violence through yongyeok, who be a part of forces with police to control belongings disputes, trespass claims, and hard work strikes. Conservative administrations under Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013) and Park Geun-Hye (2013-2017) appeared moves as threats to commercial enterprise stability and took sturdy measures to subdue them. Under the Park management, labor activists had been automatically arrested and punished. Yongyeok has been visible as an important associate of government in dealing with disobedient workers.

The use of yongyeok has emerged as recurring enough to spawn its very own enterprise, with heaps of businesses. According to a one of a kind with the aid of day by day newspaper Kyunghyang, in 2009, security groups that dispatched yongyeok to interrupt protests staged in opposition to Ssangyong vehicles respectively earned 6.2 billion won ($5.8 million) and a pair of.1 billion ($1.9 million) received in much less than six months. An easy search on Naver, South Korea’s largest seeks engine, yields a couple of effects about exclusive yongyeok offerings.
Recently, the authorities have started taking steps to slash aggressive yongyeok conduct. The Moon Jae-in management that came to strength last May assured the public that the government would not arbitrarily intrude in peaceful protests.

Moon, a human rights legal professional from the center-left Minjoo Party, appears extra sympathetic closer to exertions rights than the past two presidents. He has elevated the minimal salary using 16. Four percentage, at the same time as most operating hours, are due to be reduced to fifty-two in line with week, from the current restrict of sixty-eight.

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