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Farmer kills himself in policy protest

Nov 13,2005
A young farmer killed himself on Friday, Farmers Day in Korea, in a protest against the government’s agricultural policy.
The body of Jung Yong-pum, a 38-year-old farmer from Damyang, South Jeolla province, was found the next day in Damyang’s town hall. He had apparently drunk a bottle of pesticide.
Mr. Jung wrote a suicide note on the back of a calendar, which began, “Hoping my life can help our agricultural villages.”
“For better lives of farmers in rural areas, the government should establish a policy on the agricultural industry based on reality,” it read.
In the note, Mr. Jung blamed rice and educational problems for the hardships in farming areas. Mr. Jung asked for integrity from politicians to build “a transparent society where hardworking people are rewarded.”
Mr. Jung had worked as a chef at a hotel for eight years after graduating from high school, and returned to his home town in 1994 when the hotel went bankrupt. After studying public administration at Korea National Open University, while tending his eight-acre farm, he entered the tourism department at Jeonnam Provincial College last year. He was reportedly interested in establishing a theme park in farming areas. Early this year, he was elected president of the college student body.
In addition he had worked as the leader of the town’s council since 2003, and was a member of the Korea Advanced Farmers Federation.
Jung Hee-yong, a resident of his neighborhood, said, “I often saw him working in the field at 3 or 4 a.m. and going to school in his 1-ton truck. He was a very hardworking person and tried to change ideas in agricultural areas.”


by Chun Chang-whan


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