In South Korea's struggling Kia Town, 'bad jobs' better than no jobs

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GWANGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – Park Byung-kyu once led Kia Motor’s union in the city of Gwangju, fighting for labor protections against the powerful, family-run chaebol that dominated the economy during South Korea’s rapid industrialization.

FILE PHOTO: Members of Kia Motor’s union chant a slogan during a protest against the Gwangju joint-venture project, in Gwangju, South Korea, January 31, 2019. Hong Jae-kwan/Kia Motor’s union/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

But about 20 years ago, Park was assaulted by unionized workers wielding steel clubs after he campaigned for the rights of temporary workers at another company, leaving him paralyzed on the right side of his body.

The attack also left him disillusioned with the approach of South Korea’s forceful and often militant unions, which have faced increasing criticism for protecting their interests at the expense of other workers.

Now, Park is working for the city of Gwangju on a proposed joint venture with Hyundai…



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