|@Photo PSPD Website|
When the military dictatorship was fully terminated through various movements and the civilian government was elected in 1993, there was a need to institutionalized civil participation in democracy, state power and socio-economic reform. With a great realization and support of activists, scholars and lawyers, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) was founded in 1994 as a “civil” organization to promote justice and human rights in Korean society through the participation of the people. Since then, it has been able to operate with the help of its 12,450 members paying monthly fee which includes 68.7% of 180 million won of its total income as of 31 December 2010.
One of the successes of PSPD is that it believes on “people power” to influence the government through various campaigns and actions. “Most of the time group demonstration are prohibited by the government and demonstrations are restricted but still we continue”, says director of PSPD, Park Jung Eun. The movements includes from reducing the phone rates to blacklisting corrupted candidates in the 2000 general election. The movement encouraged people to abstain vote for corrupted leaders and disobedience movement against the elections law with unconstitutional provisions. It is said that this movement targeted 86 political leaders and about 70% candidate failed to elect just because of this movement. Although it was a risky campaign, this is one of the most popular and successful campaign run by PSPD, added director.
Still there are many campaigns lead by PSPD such as Campaign against Korea- US FTA, Campaign for lowering education fee, housing, medical service; campaign for the disclosure of investigation on the sunken Cheonan warship and verification of the National assembly, Judicial reform and protection for socio-economic rights of citizens. PSPD has also been involved actively to stop the construction of Naval Base at Gangjeong in Jeju Island. Park says that Ministry of Defense and the Navy of South Korea are constructing a naval base to destroy the local communities. According to the park the people’s opinion has been neglected and distorted in Jeju Island.
This is our last field trip for this semester. All of these field trips have been very fruitful. Visiting various CSOs, civic organizations and NGOs have helped us to network and learn about their struggles towards achieving human rights and democracy in the country. We also get to know how civic organizations or a civil society organizations have struggled since their formation in South Korea, despiites of various restrictions from the government. There are many things that activists, concern actors and CSOs from South East Asia especially Nepal (my origin country) has to learn from the work and activities of CSOs in Korea.