South Korea: Liberate Labor Activists and Free Workforce From Oppression

Target: Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea

Goal: Demand South Korea’s president stop imprisoning advocates for workers’ rights.

While South Korean leadership assumes a public face of goodwill as it hosts the world’s athletes, behind the persona still lingers another face of corruption and injustice. The country’s previous president was impeached for these very actions, but the collateral damage remains—most prominently in the form of jailed labor activists. These individuals were unjustly imprisoned for the crime of looking out for the best interests of a long-oppressed workforce.

The most prominent case involves Han Sang-gyun, a Korean Confederation of Trade Unions leader currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Among the charges leveled against the union president were traffic violations and the holding of unauthorized rallies. The likely true basis for this man’s conviction, however, is simple political opposition. Under previous regimes, workers’ rights had systematically eroded, with wages eroding as well to the point that one out of seven workers do not even make minimum wage. Unions became a prime target for government ire, often being outlawed or stripped of any power. The rate of union membership among South Korean workers (currently hovering below 10 percent) now stands lower than it did under dictatorial rule.

Despite calls for action from organizations like the United Public Workers for Action and the UN Human Rights Council, the harsh sentences of Han Sang-gyun and other labor leaders still stand under current president Moon Jae-in. Sign this petition and urge the new leadership to set a true positive standard by releasing its wrongfully imprisoned rights activists.


Dear President Moon,

You are hosting the world, and what do you want to be your lasting legacy? As a staunch advocate for human rights from your time as a student to your tenure in law, you understand the importance of human rights in our world and the important place of those who work to ensure those rights never vanish. Previous leaders of your country did not always honor its people or their contributions, but the actions of your predecessors need not define the legacy you create.

On the date honored as Human Rights Day, the previous administration sentenced a labor advocate to five years in prison and sent a symbolic message to those who might one day add their own voices to cries for reform and progress. Many martyrs before and since have fallen in this fight, but you can end the war and instead join hands with workers in a united pledge for protections for all laborers. The most important first step and show of good faith you can take in this cause is commuting the unduly harsh sentences of the leaders who fought for their fellow citizens.

Liberating Han Sang-gyun and labor leaders can help liberate your workers and ensure your legacy will be one of justice, not egregious injustice.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Пресс-служба Президента Российской Федерации

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One Comment

  1. Gen Agustsson says:

    give them a chance.

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