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President Park wishes imprisoned labor leader “good fortune” in New Year’s card

Posted on : Dec.22,2015 17:32 KSTModified on : Dec.22,2015 17:32 KST

                        
President Park Geun-hye’s New Year’s card to Han Sang-gyun, in which she wishes the imprisoned labor leader “good fortune and great success.” (provided by the KCTU)

KCTU spokesperson calls the card to Han Sang-gyun “less like courtesy than mockery”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye sent a New Year’s card wishing success and good fortune to Han Sang-gyun, 53, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU), who is currently in jail.

On the morning of Dec. 21, KCTU Secretary General Lee Yeong-ju posted a picture on Facebook of the New Year’s card that Park sent to Han. “Han is currently in the 22nd day of his hunger strike in a Seoul detention center,” Lee wrote in the post containing the picture.

The New Year’s card was delivered on Monday to the KCTU office on Jeongdong Street in central Seoul.

“There have been many difficulties both inside and outside of Korea this year, but because of the faith and trust that you and other Koreans have shown us, we have been able to create a platform for national reform and economic recovery,” Park’s card said.

“In the New Year, I will work even harder to bring even greater security and abundance to the lives of the people. I hope that you will enjoy good fortune and great success this year.”

“Putting Han in jail and then sending him a New Year’s card feels less like courtesy than mockery. This seems like a very inappropriate action,” KCTU spokesperson Park Seong-sik told the Hankyoreh during a phone interview on Dec. 21.

There was a similar controversy in December of last year, when the Blue House sent a New Year’s card to Lee Jung-hee, then leader of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), containing a wish for her dreams to come true and for her family to enjoy health and happiness. This was around the time that South Korea’s Constitutional Court ordered the party to be dissolved.

Han was arrested on charges of organizing a number of illegal demonstrations, including the nationwide rally on Nov. 14, as well as a demonstration for the Sewol Ferry this past April and one on Labor Day this past May.

On Dec. 18, the police handed Han’s case over to the prosecutors, with the additional charge of sedition, a charge that has not been made in 29 years. “The police are trying to frame the entire KCTU as a violent and illegal organization in order to rob us of our legal grounds for existing,” the KCTU said in a statement released on the same day.

By Park Soo-jin, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]
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