News from Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism (KAWAN):
Korean Farmers and Workers, American Labor and Activists to Protest the
South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement Talks his September 6-9 in Seattle
From Sept 6th to the 9th in Seattle, a 100-member South Korean delegation of workers, farmers and activists will be joined by hundreds from across the US, especially Seattle, to protest the biggest Free Trade Agreement since NAFTA. The Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KorUS-FTA) negotiations, hosted by the Washington Council on International Trade, take place at the Trade and Convention Center during this time.
-The Korean Alliance Against Korea-US FTA (KoA), a South Korean coalition of 280 organizations
-Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism (KAWAN), a U.S. coalition of progressive Korean-American organizations joined by over 70 other groups and contingents from across the U.S., representing unions and women, environment, and immigrants groups.
WHEN AND WHERE:
Wednesday, September 6th:
9:00 AM: Press Conference at Washington State Convention and Trade Center (FTA negotiation site), with KoA, KAWAN, laborers, farmers, women, and environmental groups.
12:30 PM: Opening Rally and March at Westlake Park, with Korean Trade Unionists, King County Labor Council and the AFL-CIO.
6:30 PM: International Cultural Performance and Candlelight Vigil at Westlake Park, with Dohee Lee, SKIM, Abyssinian Creole, Cuchata and performers from South Korea.
Friday, September 8:
1:00 PM: Sam-bo Il-bae March at Westlake Park. Sam Bo Il Bae literally means "three steps, one bow." Originally born from the Buddhist tradition, participants do the entire march by taking three steps, then a full bow to the ground. In the process, demonstrating their deep commitment to the struggle.
Saturday, September 9:
1:00 PM: Funeral March and Closing Rally at Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Federal Building, Steinbrueck Park. A Korean funeral procession will leave from the Trade Center to the Federal Building, where hundreds of supporters will join the march, continuing to Steinbrueck Park for a rally.
The Seattle negotiations are the 3rd round of FTA talks between Korea and the U.S. KoA and KAWAN's joint protests began during the first round of talks in Washington DC in June, and by the second round of talks in July in Seoul, over a hundred thousand people protested in the streets.
Free trade policies such as the proposed KorUS-FTA have had devastating effects on the lives of Americans as well as workers in the partner countries. Though Free Trade Agreements are widely touted for encouraging foreign direct investment, creating jobs and jump-starting economies, most of these investments are in mergers and acquisitions, resulting in job losses. NAFTA sent formerly high paying manufacturing jobs to Mexico, forced Mexican subsistence farmers to the cities, drove wages down, leading many to risk their lives immigrating to the U.S.
South Koreans fear a similar fate for their farmers, as well as the worsening of working conditions. The upcoming FTA negotiations address some 17 trade categories; the primary issues for Koreans are agriculture (especially rice and beef), automobiles, pharmaceuticals and the film screen quota.
The two coalitions, KoA and KAWAN, formed this year in response to the KorUS-FTA, but the main actorsthe farmers, workers, students, and activists, have a shared history of struggle starting with the anti-WTO protests in Seattle (1999), Cancun (2003), and, more recently, Hong Kong (2005).NEWS RELEASE