Music in the Korean Workers' Movements

A new Korean documentary shows how Yeon Yeongseok, a popular Korean singer, uses his work in support of Korean workers.It is called To the Bitter End and shows the determination of the Korean workers and how Yeon's music is part of their struggle.His music is played at rallies and recordings are brought to sit-ins. Labor activists in Korea have used video for decades. There have even been contracts negotiated which require that companies pay a video-activist (chosen by the union) to record working conditions and labor issues in a particular work site. The tapes are then played back in the lunch room of the factory. Korean documentaries are often very emotional, this one showing the pain and courage of the striking workers as they band together when the police try to disperse them. A recent dispute within the union community concerned the rights of migrant laborers. Migrants are given three year visas. They are not allowed to bring their families into Korea. Their pay is low and their working conditions are harsh. Many work as much as twelve hours a day. Some of the traditional union members did not want to support these "irregular workers" but others felt that this would be siding with the "bosses".A tactic often used is sit-ins. This one at Koscom ended with an agreement to bargain in good faith, but further negotiations were stymied.The documentary is directed by Tae, Jun-seek, Produced by Lee, Sangyeop. Contact: