A new union, united villages and 70 promises of marriageMay 28, 1989
These days, it’s rare to read the front pages of the local newspapers without coming to an article about the Korea Teachers’ and Educational Workers’ Union. The union, noted for its progressive and rather leftist views, was founded on this date, despite the suppression of the government.
Before the union, the idea of a teachers’ labor association was something of a taboo in Korean society. Its views toward the “proper education of North Korea to children” especially was a pain in the neck for the government.
No sooner was the group founded than the government fired more than 1,500 members. But the union managed to go on, organizing illegally and opposing the government. It was not until early 1998 when the group was legalized. The union says it now has about 100,000 members.
May 31, 1976
The former President Park Chung Hee led the Saemaeul (or “New Town”) Movement, the impetus behind Korea’s rapid drive to economic development.
Under the principles of diligence and integrity, people were also advised, if not forced, to meet with other villagers and hold regular meetings, called bansanghoe.
The very first bansanghoe on a nationwide scale was held on this date. People were expected to share ideas on how to develop their villages. The meetings continued actively until the 1990s, but gradually they faded away and are mostly gone now.
May 31, 1955
Park In-su, a Korean version of Casanova, was arrested on this date. Mr. Park, then 26 years old, was accused of illegally seducing more than 70 women by promising to marry them.
It was only a few years from the calamity of the Korean War and the country was in turmoil. New ideas challenged the old virtues, which emphasized the chastity of women, as did the new culture of dancing and music that came from American army bases.
Mr. Park was a strapping young man, fresh out of the navy, where he had served during the war as an enlisted man.
But even after leaving the navy, Mr. Park continued to claim to be serving ― not only that, but he claimed to be a first lieutenant.
Mr. Park was a regular at the new dance halls. There, using his false identity as a navy officer and his good looks, he found women to be easy prey. Most of those women were college students, some from upper-class families.
But Mr. Park denied any wrongdoing. “The one and only virgin that I met was a beautician,” he said.
The court agreed with Mr. Park’s reasoning, in a verdict that created even more of an uproar: “The law protects the sound and innocent chastity of virtuous women only,” wrote the judge Gwon Sun-yeong.
Mr. Park was fined 20,000 won, the equivalent today of about 950,000 won ($800).
The prosecutor’s office appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which found Mr. Park guilty of adultery. The ruling said, “Under the premise that not every woman in the dance hall thinks little of her chastity, it can be the fault of the man who tempted a woman to the motel.”
It took four decades and much lobbying by women’s groups for the word “chastity” to disappear from the lawbooks.
by Chun Su-jin