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Demanding unjust rewards

May 26,2017
Since the launch of the Moon Jae-in administration, the Blue House and ruling Democratic Party are wrestling with petitions from the belligerent Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (Ktewu) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions among others. Citing their participation in the candlelight vigils calling for the resignation of President Park Geun-hye, they want some tangible rewards from President Moon and the DP.

News reports say they send as many as 300 requests to the Blue House and about 150 to the ruling party each day. The teachers union now plans to send faxes to an advisory committee for state affairs describing what it wants, including legalization of the group. Union leaders are encouraging rank-and-file members to join the campaign by telling them that they did not take part in the months-long protests for nothing.

Calling for changes they want after the launch of a new government is hardly a sin. Wielding whatever influence they can in the administration’s decision-making to protect their interests is actually their raison d’être.

But it is preposterous to demand a share of rewards for the ouster of the president as if they had orchestrated the rallies on Gwanghwamun Square. Despite their active participation, the demonstrations were mostly led by grassroots groups. Ordinary citizens have demanded union members restrain from making such radical requests as the legalization of the teachers union or release of its hard-line activists.

The unions’ demands for rewards for jumping on the bandwagon is an insult to the people. Their demands reveal their impure motives from the start. The Ktewu’s call for the immediate legitimization of the outlawed union cannot be justified as it is awaiting a final ruling from the Supreme Court after losing in the first and second trials.

The new administration must not be swayed by the unions. Of course, the Moon Jae-in government owes much to the candlelight vigils. But it owes more to the ordinary citizens that voted it to power. The president must not waste time accommodating absurd demands.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 26, Page 34