Friday, February 16, 2007

Images from the Seventh Round FTA Struggle in DC

Opening Press Conference (2/11/07) in front of the negotiation site (Washington Court Hotel near the Capitol).

Opening March through the streets of Washington, DC -- from Malcolm X Park to Adams Morgan community area to Lafayette Park near the White House. Many supporters and allies joined the march.

Marching towards the White House.

"Changing of the guards ceremony" of all-night vigil teams. Despite the frigid cold, the protesters maintained a 24-hour vigil.

American workers from the AFL-CIO and Change to Win joined in a joint rally (2/12/07) in front of the negotiation site.

The Korean delegation asks for the delivery of open letter to the negotiators...

but was blocked entry into the hotel by the police...

... with rough handling of protesters by the police.

Congressional Briefing ("US and Korean Civil Society Voice Deep Concerns Over Potential US Korea FTA," 2/13/07) co-sponsored by AFL-CIO, Korean Americans for Fair Trade (KAFT) and Korean Alliance against KorUS FTA, drew many Congressional staffers and the media. Representatives from Korea and KAFT visited Congressional offices to discuss concerns regarding the Korea-US FTA.

Freezing snow came down upon the protesters during the late night, but the group maintained high spirit through singing and creative chanting. Supporters and allies brought hot coffee, soup and blankets and gave encouraging solidarity messages.

Press Conference/Rally (2/14/07) in front of the Korean Embassy in protest of Amb. Lee Tae-shik's statement: "If Korean Americans can eat American beef, why can't Koreans?"

Down, Down, US beef!
Group photo at the Closing Rally -- a stong gust of cold wind did not deter the determination of this hardy group. See you in Seoul...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NYC Community Forum on Free Trade and Our Countries: Saturday, February 17

what does this mean for all of us?

What is Free Trade doing to our home countries, our people? How does this affect immigrants and immigration? What is Congress doing - and what can we do about it?

Speakers from Latin America, Korea, labor and political representatives and more!
With: organizing strategies for social economic justice here and abroad. Be part of the struggle: see how you can help!

Consuelo Ahumada – Prof. Javeriana University
Ana MarĂ­a Archila – Dir. Latin America Integration Center
Carlos Bernales – Journalist
Sukyung Chang – E.D., Korean Alliance Against the Korea-US FTA (KoA)
David Edeli – Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Moderators: Mario Murillo and Deepa Fernanades of WBAI Pacifica

Saturday, February 17th
12:30 - 3 PM
Renaissance Charter School
35-59 81st Street
Jackson Heights NY
(Take #7 train to 82nd St or F, G, R, V to 74 St. and change to #7 . Walk one block to 37th Ave. )
Refreshments served.

For more information, contact:
Spanish (347) 546-3170
English (917) 685-1044
Korean (646) 283-3696.

Sponsored by:
Hon. H. Monserrate Dist. 21, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Committee for Social Justice in Columbia, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement-NYC, Latino Initiative for Better Resources & Empowerment, Movement for Peace in Colombia., New Immigrants for Community Empowerment, NY People's Referendum on Free Trade, Korean- Americans for Fair Trade, Korean-Americans Against War And Neo-liberalism, Polo Democratico Alternativo NY-NJ-CT, SEIU 1199, SEIU 32BJ, Working Families Party

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Workday Minnesota, February 13, 2007: U.S., Korean activists protest bad trade deal

DC 7th Round Day Two

From a KAWAN delegate who is currently in DC:

We've had a successful action on Monday, the second day of the negotiations- a civil disobedience that was somewhat not so civil. We attempted to enter the Washington Court Hotel, and wound up in a scuffle with the police- (we tried to run in and they physically threw us out, no real fights) Even though some protestors planned to get arrested (for minor charges only) the police did not arrest us. But we did create some visible tension that was picked up by the media. (tho it was mostly Korean) without the hassle of going through arrests. To listen to a sound bite go to:
We wound up staying overnight at our hotel in Virginia, splittin' time between two shifts.
Tonight, as I write this in the relative comfort of the hotel room, the rest are out in sleet and snow, protesting in front of the Washington Court Hotel. I have my heat turned off in solidarity, tho I am going under the covers soon.
Will have pictures and links up soon- I need to pass out for now.

Solidarity Action in Burlington, Vermont

Students and Workers to deliver Valentines message to Vermont's Congressional Delegation:
"Don't Break My Heart with the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement"

Date: Wednesday, February 14th
Time: 9:30am
Place: Senator Leahy's office, 199 Main Street
Contact: Helaine Alon, Students for Peace & Global Justice, 617 513 3536
Jonathan Kissam, Vermont Workers' Center, 802 343 1705

Burlington, VT - On Valentine's day, students from UVM's Students for Peace and Global Justice, the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) and members of the Vermont Workers' Center - Jobs With Justice will deliver hundreds of Valentines to the offices of Vermont's Congressional delegation, urging them to oppose the proposed free trade agreement between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

"The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement would be an extension of the failed NAFTA model that has been disastrous for workers, farmers and the environment," said Jonathan Kissam of the Vermont Workers' Center.

As preconditions to the talks, the Bush administration has demanded that South Korea lower its auto emissions standards and suspend a program which had successfully lowered the cost of prescription drugs. "We need to move forward on climate change and access to affordable medicines, not backwards," notes UVM student Helaine Alon.

Negotiators from the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Republic of Korea are meeting this week in Washington, D.C., for the seventh and possibly final round of negotiations. If signed and approved by Congress, it will be the largest free trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Korea is the world's eleventh-largest economy, with a GDP of $787.6 billion in 2005, slightly larger than Mexico's.

More information on the US-Korea free trade agreement is available from the Korea Policy Institute,

Monday, February 12, 2007


February 11 through March 1: Fair Trade Solidarity Film Screenings Encouraged

February 11, 2007. Students, workers, farmers including: a South Korean delegation from the Korean Alliance Against the KorUS FTA (KoA), the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU), Federation of Korea Trade Unions (FKTU) and Korean-Americans Against War and Neoliberalism (KAWAN) and Korean Americans for Fair Trade (KAFT) will be working tirelessly this week on series of events that will coincide with the 7th round of KoreaUS Free Trade talks being held in Washington, DC.

In order to demonstrate our transnational solidarity for fair trade that supports creativity and cultural diversity, we're asking you to hold a solidarity film screening in your community sometime between now and March 1st. Don't let these administrations fast-track an undemocratic process to free trade. Check out the no KORUS FTA myspace page and let us know where/when you are holding your screening and/or forum: or email:

Feb 12th: Korean Farmers, Labor Activists and U.S. Labor Protest And Hold All Night Vigil at Free Trade Talks Site in DC

Monday, Feb 12th, 2007 – till Feb 13th
Washington Court Hotel

525 New Jersey Ave.NW (Corner of E St. and New Jersey Ave)

Today, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and others joined the South Korean delegation from the
KOREAN ALLIANCE AGAINST KOREA-US Free Trade Agreement (KoA), and Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism (KAWAN) to protest and rally in front of the negotiation site of the Korea-US Free Trade talks.
At the Washington Court hotel, as hundreds of negotiators attempt to speed up talks on what will be the largest free
trade agreement since NAFTA, over a hundred demonstrators outside the hotel called to end the talks and demanded
“Fair Trade, not Free Trade!”

Protesters attempted to enter the negotiation rooms, but were held back by security. Determined to tell the
negotiators that millions of Korean workers, farmers – and countless American workers are endangered by the current
agreement, members of KoA and KAWAN have decided to hold an all night vigil in front of the hotel, until they are
allowed to speak with the negotiators.

“The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is attempting to ignore us, as it has ignored the working people both here in the U.S. and in Korea,” says Yul-san Liem of KAWAN. “We refuse to leave the negotiation site until they talk to us and hear how the Kor-US FTA is already destroying people’s livelihoods!”

The KoA delegation includes Huh Yeong Gu, (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), Kyung Shik Moon Korean Peasants League), Jin Pil Kim (Korean Advanced Farmers' Federation), Dae Jin Baik Federation of Korean Trade Unions) and Jung Gwanghoon (delegation leader). Jin Pil Kim represents the farmers group whose member Lee Kyung Hae took his life in protest of the WTO Cancun talks in 2003.

These activities follow a march and rally yesterday, Sunday, and are part of a series of protests against this 7th and possibly last round of Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (Kor-US FTA) negotiations, taking place in DC. The week will include daily rallies, vigils, marches and more.

(The Korean Alliance Against Korea-US FTA), a South Korean coalition of 280 organizations and KAWAN (Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism), a national coalition of progressive Korean American organizations, with support from over 100 immigrant, people of color, LGBT, farmers, workers, womens, anti-war and anti-globalization groups from throughout the United States.

The voices of the people most impacted by the trade agreement - the citizens of US and South Korea - have been ignored by the trade negotiators. The majority of the South Korean public opposes the trade agreement, holding protests with as many as 150,000 people. The Kor-US FTA has received little attention in the US media, although it will be the largest free trade agreement that the US has negotiated since NAFTA.

This week is seen as a potential final battle in this fight for fair trade and worker's rights.
The Korean delegation includes labor activist Huh Yeong Gu, who was recently sentenced to a two year jail term for protesting the negotiations but received a stay of imprisonment. While trade negotiators attempt to complete their work before the Bush administration's Fast Track Authority ends in June - the protesters are just as determined to end the talks and to demand that the new Democratic Congress follow through on their election commitments to fair trade over free trade.

(photos from KBS News)

DC 7th Round Day One

The seventh round of FTA negotiations in Washington DC has officially begun. A delegation of activists from South Korea (ncluding members of the Korean Alliance Against the KorUS FTA, Korea Peasants League, Korean Advanced Farmers Federation, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korean Cattle Ranchers Association, Korean Metal Workers Union, Korean Women Against US Occupation, and others) and the US (members of KAWAN, Justice Committee, Audre Lorde Project, International Action Center, ANSWER Coalition, Queer People of Color Liberation Project, and others) have arrived in Washington DC in conjunction with the negotiations have arrived and begun this struggle for this 7th and final round of negotiations.

Summary of the day's events:
At 9:30 AM, we held an opening press conference in front of the Washington Court Hotel with Korean and US major media outlets.
At 1 PM, we kicked off the week formally with an opening rally and march beginning at Malcom X Park and ending at Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Speakers and performers at the rally included representatives from an array of grassroots organizations resisting the KorUS FTA from South Korea and around the country. After the rally, the delegation moved to the Washington Court Hotel, the site of the negotiations, to pitch two tents where activists against the FTA will maintain a continuous symbolic and strategic presence throughout the week of negotiations in a show of opposition to the undemocratic nature of the official talks.

Throughout the week, we will be engaging in a mix of advocacy efforts, direct action, and other tactics to demonstrate our resistance to the KorUS FTA. DOWN DOWN FTA!

Tomorrow's agenda (all and sundry are invited to participate):
9 AM: Rally in front of the Washington Court Hotel
!2 PM: Joint rally with Change to Win, AFL-CIO, KAWAN (Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism), KoA (Korean Alliance Against the KorUS FTA), and KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions)
Afternoon and evening: Creative actions.

Stay tuned for the rest of the week!


Saturday, February 10, 2007

News From Korean Alliance Against KorUS FTA

Protest Delegation Sets off for Washington D.C.

On February 10, a Korean Protest Delegation made up of representatives from workers, farmers, cultural and social movement organizations left Incheon Airport for the United States. at 3:05pm. The group's mission is to protest the Korea-US FTA negotiations, which will go into their 7 th round from Feb. 11 to 14 at the Hyatt Regent in Washington, D.C. This is not the first time that such a group has gone to the U.S. Since the 2nd round of talks were held in D.C. in June of last year, the Korean Alliance against the KorUS FTA, a coalition of over 300 groups in South Korea, has organized protest delegations of this kind to send each time the FTA negotiations are held abroad. Korean delegations have now protested in D.C., Seattle and Montana during the first, third and fifth round of talks. The second, fourth and sixth rounds were held in South Korea.

This 7th round of talks is especially significant. The negotiators from both countries are racing to reach an agreement in time to submit it to the U.S. Congress before the U.S. president's Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) expires on July 1 st. TPA authorizes the president to sign an agreement before Congress sees it and then requires that Congress vote it up or down with out amendment. Because trade legislation must be submitted to Congress at least 90 days in advance of a vote, the Korea-US FTA must be concluded by the end of March to meet the deadline. Although Kim Jong-hoon, chief negotiator for the Korean side as mentioned the possibility of an 8 th round, both sides are hoping to make significant progress, if not conclude a deal this week.

Predicting that large concessions will be made in order get an agreement signed, the Korean protest delegation and American-based organizations are changing their tactics to meet the situation. Besides standard rallies, street demonstrations and vigils, they will hold an overnight tent protest for the entire span of the negotiations. Advocacy work on Capitol Hill is also planned in anticipation that the agreement will be concluded. The protest delegates will throw all their energy into raising awareness about the FTA, which they say is 'unfair trade' that will cost jobs and increase social polarization in both countries, from the streets to the briefing rooms.

But the protest delegations have had results other than just strengthening FTA-sentiment. The Koreans have also built a strong solidarity with Korean Americans, in particular the national organization Korean Americans against War and Neoliberalism (KAWAN). KoA and KAWAN have now been working together for nine months to carry out the anti-FTA struggle on both sides of the Pacific. In addition, exchanges have occurred and solidarity built with other immigrant, people of color and queer communities and labor organizations in the U.S. who are fighting neoliberalism. "I have a lot of expectations," said Soo-kyung Jang, Executive Director of the Women's Committee of KoA. "Personally I am looking forward to meeting the brothers and sisters I met in Seattle and sharing ideas about solidarity."

Protest will also occur in Seoul, South Korea at the same time as they are going on in D.C. KoA has planned events through the week, including a large rally and prayer protest this Monday, but has been denied permits, even for peaceful demonstrations. In fact, the South Korean government has enforced a ban on all FTA protests since last November, actively seeking to quell anti-FTA sentiment. Organizers, undaunted, say they will go ahead with their plans and call the government's ban a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.