Statement from the Congressional Press Conference on the Proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

Statement from the Congressional Press Conference on the Proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement

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Representative, Korean Hospital and Medical Workers’ Union

The Korean government believes that hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created through the establishment of an FTA with the United States.

Our experience has shown that global regulations protecting the rights of corporations as seen in the post 1997 post-IMF crisis leads to irregular work. Even if employment increases, the quality of employment has decreased. Korean workers have already suffered from unstable employment, which has disproportionately hit women hardest.

The Korean government believes that the Korea-America FTA is a good opportunity to increase the competition of our nation’s service industry. Despite open-market policies instituted in 1996, domestic discount marts like E-Mart and Home Plus are always ranked first and second. As many of us know, many of these companies employ women. However, competition between domestic companies against international companies within the open service industry ultimately means worsening working environments for women, regardless of whether the company is domestic or international.

Additionally, the Korea-US FTA will affect healthcare, education, and various public services. In particular, pressure from the film industry, education for children, and elderly care will ultimately fall on women. The declining rate for the women working in public health services and restaurants will become even more serious.

The financial responsibility for the family ultimately falls on the woman. Without adequate public services and worsening labor conditions facing women, Korean women will not be able to help nurture their own families, their community, and ultimately the society.

Many claim that the Korea-US FTA will stabilize the female employment, but it seems as if they are ignoring the current status of female employment. More effort should be put towards making others realize the importance of female employment to the service industry. The Korea-US FTA is not just a problem for the female population. The ultimate effect of the Korea-US FTA should be looked at from the point of view of those who will suffer rather than from those who will gain from it.

No one can deny that women, who are considered to be weaker part of the society, will be the biggest victims out of Korea-America FTA. Korean women’s organizations and Korean women will fight against the passage of the Korea-America FTA.

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