According to Korean teachers, two three Korean school teachers are in the hospital today after a two week hunger strike of just water and salt. These strikes were to protest the firing of over 80 teachers last year – all union leaders who dared to speak out on the union’s position against the government’s anti collective bargaining stance. Being an active union member these days is a significant commitment, and no small consideration.
It seems the teachers union got into hot water last year when they attempted to encourage students and their parents to not participate in national testing. While there is some media attention in worldwide education circles, the hunger strikes and firings have gotten very little press in the Korean media, due to self-censorship.
How many administrations does it take before the legacy of dictatorships goes away? Before people can really feel free to exercise their rights? Korea appears to be a democracy, but people still feel oppressed, and as the above example shows, for good reason. I wonder how much is centuries old internalized cultural repression and how much of it is actually institutionalized?
I wrote elsewhere last week, responding to someone asking, would you rather have not been adopted? In reference to the country I was sent to and the country of my birth, I told them it was an even draw. I am spoiled with the liberties afforded me by my adoptive country and can’t come here and fully embrace the repression of this country. I am spoiled now by the knowledge of having a cultural history and way of life so I can never go back to being the white person I imagined hoped myself to be in the country I was sent to.