Building Ships, Building a Nation

Building Ships, Building a Nation : Korea's Democratic Unionism Under Park Chung Hee

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Building Ships, Building a Nation examines the rise and fall, during the rule of Park Chung Hee (1961-79), of the combative labor union at the Korea Shipbuilding and Engineering Corporation (KSEC), which was Korea's largest shipyard until Hyundai appeared on the scene in the early 1970s. Drawing on the union's extraordinary and extensive archive, Hwasook Nam focuses on the perceptions, attitudes, and discourses of the mostly male heavy-industry workers at the shipyard and on the historical and sociopolitical sources of their militancy. Inspired by legacies of labor activism from the colonial and immediate postcolonial periods, KSEC union workers fought for equality, dignity, and a voice for labor as they struggled to secure a living wage that would support families.The standard view of the South Korean labor movement sees little connection between the immediate postwar era and the period since the 1970s and largely denies positive legacies coming from the period of Japanese colonialism in Korea. Contrary to this conventional view, Nam charts the importance of these historical legacies and argues that the massive mobilization of workers in the postwar years, even though it ended in defeat, had a major impact on the labor movement in the following more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 521.63g
  • University of Washington Press
  • Washington, United States
  • English
  • 14 illus.
  • 0295988991
  • 9780295988993

About Hwasook Bergquist Nam

Hwasook Nam is assistant professor of history and international studies at the University of Washington, where she holds the James B. Palais professorship in Korea more

Review quote

Focuses on the mostly male heavy industry workers at the shipyard and on historical and sociopolitical sources of their militancy. * Journal of Economic Literature * This wonderful book restores a buried history of union activism in the Korea Shipbuilding and Engineering Corporation (KSEC) . . . and situates it in the larger context of militant and democratic labor movements in Korean society since the colonial period. . . . It is a welcome addition to the body of critical studies on modern and contemporary Korea that convey nuanced analyses of Korea's social history. * American Historical Review * Apart from presenting a case study of a union and its members with microhistorical depth, Building Ships, Building a Nation fills a lacuna of knowledge on workers in the twentieth century, serving as an indispensable contribution to scholarship on labor relations in contemporary Korea and East Asia. * Journal of Asian Studies * Overall, the account is a reminder that economics that fail to capture cultural and historical, and even emotional, context is rather senseless....His comments on labour in Korea bring to life the decades of labour-capital tensions that were, and still are, the backdrop for Korea's economic miracle. * International Journal of Maritime History * ."A pioneering work on contemporary Korean history, Building Ships, Building a Nation will occupy a central place in the emerging literature of the post-war period.... Nam gives voice and agency to a segment of society and a period of time that were relegated to silence for many years, and in the process profoundly alters our understanding of South Korean state and society. * Asian Studies Association, in awarding the 2011 James B. Palais Book Prize *show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction PART I: THE LEGACIES OF COLONIALISM AND THE EARLY COLD WAR YEARS1 Worker Militancy in the Postwar Years2 Anticommunism, Labor Rights, and Organized Labor: The Early 1950sPART II: THE EMERGENCE OF A DEMOCRAT IC UNION3 KSEC Workers in the 1950s4 The KSEC Union in the Political Upheavals of 1960-615 Consolidation of a Democratic Union6 Rationalization and ResistancePART III: DEVELOPMENT OVER DEMOCRACY7 Development versus Democracy: The Late 1960s8 Privatization and the Suppression of Labor, 1968-699 Shipbuilding Workers under Authoritarian Rule: The 1970s10 Shipbuilding for the World Market and Resurging Labor MilitancyAPPENDIX A: The KSEC Union Archive Document File List, 1960-79APPENDIX B: The Labor Charter of 1948APPENDIX C: A Comparison of Two Contracts, 1968 and 1971NotesBibliographyIndexshow more