Flexibilisation: the biggest issue for the Korean left
For the last few months I've managed to studiously avoid what is almost certainly the major issue of the moment for the South Korean left and the labour movement: the awkward-to-translate problem of 'non-regular' workers (비정규노동자). This is probably because I'm quite lazy and I didn't want to do the research and write something proper about the subject. On the other hand it's not an issue that can be ignored, particularly as the National Assembly is in the process of passing a bill which will worsen conditions for non-regular workers.
Fortunately, Jamie at Two Koreas has come to the rescue with an excellent article on the struggle against 'flexibilisation' (a better translation methinks) in Korea. A taster:
The use of casual and contract workers was greatly expanded after the 1997 monetary crisis when the then President Kim Young-Sam administration passed a series of new labor laws, one of which allowed for companies in specific sectors to hire greater numbers of temporary and contract workers, including during times of labor action, causing an almost overnight rise in the number of temporary staffing agencies.For more intrepid readers, here are some resources in Korean on this subject:
The KCTU claims that with the introduction of these temporary agencies, exploitation of temporary workers and job insecurity greatly increased. They also claim that under the guise of sub-contracting workers, practices of illegally hiring and laying-off of temporary workers have also become prevalent. 
Since the 1997 crisis, employer’s groups have been advocating greater flexibility in using irregular workers. According to the Korea Herald, the current labor minister Kim Dae-Hwan has also promoted further labor market reforms, and has pushed for the implementation of the recent government-initiated bills.
- The Democratic Labour Party's special site on non-regular workers.
- The KCTU announces today that it and its fellow trade union federation (FKTU) are launching an all-out struggle for the rights of non-regular workers. There's also quite a bit on the subject in English in the April edition of the KCTU's English newsletter.
- Ta Hamkke newspaper has been covering the subject very regularly, including on the front page of their most recent edition.
In fact, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that the future of the Korean left and the labour movement as a whole may rest upon the struggle to organise non-regular workers and defend their rights. Capitalism doesn't stand still - it's a constantly evolving organism and thus the working class itself and the focus of its struggles is also changing. If organisations like the KCTU and the Democratic Labour Party do not respond to these changes, the danger is that their base could narrow drastically and they could find themselves bureaucratised, corrupted or just irrelevant (there are disturbing signs of this already). As I wrote a while ago, this is one of the warnings that comes from the fate of the Brazilian Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) and its near complete capitulation to neo-liberalism.