Update on Korea University layoffs

by E Wayne Ross on August 28, 2009

This is the news of the demand for revocation of the 88 lecturers laid off by Korea University.

It is understood that 88 lecturers from Korea University, and 5,000-10,000 lecturers in the whole country, have been the victims of lay-offs.

If it was a typical company those who were fired could fight and in the case of Ssangyong Motors, they fought and were able to achieve a half-victory. However if a fired lecturer fights, in the academic world that lecturer would be labelled as a troublemaker, and it would be the end of his career. It is worse than simply being put on a blacklist. Even I myself teach every semester with the thought that it may be my last one to seek university normalization. So even though all of the 88 lecturers are as one in resenting the dismissal, they cannot step forward to fight it.

One laid off lecturer says: I don’t want to lecture anymore. Another lecturer who has a PhD says: My child are just two so I can’t speak up. Another lecturer said to his department, I received to teach three courses in the second semester; but I can’t teach any longer because I can’t stand this Korea University which only gives lip service to academic freedom and conscience’. The department said it was struggling with the university so they should be a little patient.

On Koreapas (koreapas.net) one laid-off lecturer’s wife posted the desperate words below, on 8. 23:

The following is what i posted online on July 10 on the university homepage’s Cyber-inspection room for online petitions. Since I received no reply I posted it on the free bulletin board, but maybe because it became old it has been removed and I am re-posting it here. Whatever is the reason we need a cyber-inspection room, if they simply ignore what people post without responding at all? It would be less embarrassing if they simply got rid of it….

‘I am the wife of an hourly paid lecturer who is teaching at your esteemed university.

A few days ago, my husband was contacted by a department professor who told him that since he has worked over 4 terms in the second semester he would be dismissed.

The department professor told him, this instruction was passed to them through an official notice from the university central department in relation to the irregular worker act.
What I don’t understand is, my husband already received the instruction to proceed teaching in the second semester at the end of the first semester; the teaching schedule for the second semester has already been posted and students’ course applications already received, and the irregular worker act does not even apply.

That even a famous private university, Korea University which is called the people’s university, would do this kind of excessive and rude act is a fact that makes me angry and miserable.

I even think that now there are no longer any teachers existing, who think of education seriously. It only inspires disillusionment and contempt that, in this country, the university itself is the place that is turning a large number of hourly lecturers who are responsible for education, into a socially weak and marginalized class.

I hope that you can abandon the false image of authority which is not even recognized, and wake up and clarify this for us.’

Even though he had no security for his future, my husband lived with fulfillment from teaching his students and juniors. But now I see that he has lost all motivation and as his wife I feel anxious and insecure.

I feel, it is not right to use and dispose of a person like this.

I feel, it is not right to ignore even the students’ right to study as they choose, like this.

I wonder, as an alumnus of Korea University myself, whether I should just accept all this, and so I ask for the rest of the Korea University community for your thoughts…

On August 21, 10 a.m., in front of the central Anam Building of Korea Univerdity, a press conference titled ‘Please let us have our teachers back!’ was held by Korea Univ student unions, where over 40 people attended, including Chung Tae-ho, president of Anam Campus of Korea Univ. student union, Lee Sae-ra, vice president of Sejong Campus of Korea Univ. student union, representatives of College of Political Economy, representatives of College of Liberal Arts, Kim Dong-ae, head of Central Struggle Committee for Restoration of University Teacher Status of University Lecturers and Normalization of University education, Song Hwan-woong, vice director of National Association of School Parents for Genuine Education, Do Chun-soo, president of Korea University Democracy Alumni Association, and others. Reporters from several media attended including MBC, SBS, YTN, Seoul Newspaper, Hangook University Newspaper, Korea University Newspaper, Bae Lusia Int! ! ernet, etc. and YTN has reported on it.

Korea University union local leader Kim Young-kon said, ‘Whether from the aspect of the irregular worker protection act or raising the quality of lecturers, there are no grounds for dismissing the lecturers.’ Vice director Song Hwan-woong said ‘Apart from university entrance, if you want to improve the quality of university education and university lecturers, the dismissal of the lecturers must be revoked and their status as university teachers restored. President Do Chun-soo said, ‘Korea University must restore the jobs of the dismissed lecturers, and vice president Lee Ki-su of the Korean University Association should join in calling for the restoration of university teacher status to lecturers.’ President Jung Tae-ho said, ‘Give back our teachers.’ Vice president Lee Sae-ra said, ‘ The dismissal of our teachers is unfair and we demand revocation of the dismissals.’ Resolutions continued to be read out and shared.

You can send a letter to want revocation of laid-off lecturers of Korean University to below emails.
President of Korea University Lee Ki-su, e-kisu@korea.ac.kr
President of Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak, webmaster@president.go.kr
Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Ahn Byung-man, webmaster@mest.go.kr
Head of Korean Council for University Education & President of Ewha University, Lee Bae-yong. master@ewha.ac.kr
Head of the Committee for Education and Science & Technology of Korean National Assembly, Lee Jong-kul, anyang21@hanmail.net

Kim Young-kon, Korea University union local leader
Kim Dong-ae, head of Central Struggle Committee for Restoration of University Teacher Status of University Lecturers and Normalization of University education