Written By: - Date published: 8:21 pm, January 31st, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war, democratic participation, poverty, workers' rights - Tags: campbell live, south korea
I don’t know a lot about South Korea, but I was under the impression it had a booming economy, was at the forefront of development of digital technologies, and had a pretty successful screen production industry.
So I was interested in a report I saw recently on Al Jazeera about a phenomena that developed from one student putting up a handwritten poster on his campus asking, “How are you all doing?” The report claimed that there were many social and economic problems in the country: growing income inequality gap, unfair employment legislation, and increasing numbers of people struggling in their daily lives. This sounded like a lot of the same problems as here in NZ.
The Guardian reported on the poster phenomena earlier in January.
How are you all doing nowadays?” The question has been bothering South Korea ever since early December when Ju Hyun-woo, an economics student at Korea University, put up a dazibao – a handwritten poster commonly used by opponents of the dictatorship in the 1980s, taking a cue from the propaganda messages that flourished in China under Chairman Mao.
Appealing to his generation, thought to be largely apolitical, Ju asked: “Is it OK for you to ignore social issues since it is not your business?”
He went on to mention a strike by Korail staff, who fear the national rail operator may be privatised, and the way the state has been operated since Conservative president Park Geun-hye was elected in December 2012.
The response to Ju’s initiative reflects the prevailing malaise in South Korea. On 1 January a man calling for Park’s resignation set himself on fire. He carried a banner that had the “How are you all doing nowadays?” slogan.
According to The Guardian article, it is runaway household debt that is creating a similar situation in the US as before the 2008, Global Economic Crisis. It’s interesting that in such a digital advanced country as South Korea, an old style analogue poster has ignited a kind of movement. Many others across the country others have made their own posters.
The Al Jazeera report talks of how the poster phenomena has spread across South Korea, covering a range of social issues from workers’ strikes and nuclear power, to allegations that an intelligence service tampered in the last general election. Protestor Ju Hyun-Woo explains that it’s easy to post something on social media, but it disappears from view really quickly. In contrast, a handwritten poster in a public space has sincerity.
The “simple” question, “How are you all doing?” seems to have struck a chord with many people, who also put up their own posters across the country, with their expressions of dissatisfaction. While the president was busy claiming increasing economic prosperity, many of the general population have not been feeling it. They are feeling things are wrong, and too many people are struggling. Sound familiar?
Social media has been added into the mix: the idea of the poster movement has partly gathered momentum from people taking photos of their handwritten posters, and posting them online.
I was reminded on the question: “How are you all doing?” by a segment on Campbell Live tonight. A woman, who claims her family is struggling to survive on low paid work, has written a letter to John Key.
Title of the segment: “Open letter to PM: ‘The new working poor’“.
Tired of having to constantly make ends meet, mother-of-two Samantha Anderson has penned an open letter to the Prime Minister.
Ms Anderson invited John Key and his family to come and live their lives for a month. As she describes it: the lives of ‘the new working poor’.
Around 20km from Westport, on the road to Granity, are a small cluster of houses which make up Birchville – the only place the Andersons could afford to buy a house.
Watch the video for Whena Owen’s full report on ‘the new working poor’.
Here and there, some people are taking it into their own hands and talking back to the spin about utopian “rock star economies”, and to tell about the struggles of those some people in government would rather not talk about..
Handwritten posters, letters written from one battler’s (family-based) point of view.
Way to go!