The South Korean Teachers Union (KTU) will be taking part in the general strike called for this Tuesday by the union federation KCTU. There will be a mass demonstration in the capital, Seoul, and the slogan of the protest will be: 'After one year under Park's government we cannot stand it any more.'

The leader of the KTU was arrested in December along with 137 other trade unionists, when police attacked the KCTU headguarters. One teaching union leader remains in jail along with 14 others. The KTU has been deregistered for refusing to expel teachers who had been sacked from their jobs for allegedly taking part in pro democracy and anti-government campaigns.

The government of Guen Hye Park came to power a year ago on a manifesto which included several welcome policies such as an increase in the old age pension and no privatisation of key public services. However since coming to power she has reneged on all these pledges and is pressing ahead with privatisation in health and education. Moreover her government has consistently attacked democratic rights in the country and in particular the right to organise in trade unions and campaign for social justice.

South Korea is one of the top-performing countries in the OECD's PISA study. It is interesting that the kind of 'excellence' recognised by PISA is one achieved by stifling teachers and forcing them to teach a narrow and completely prescribed curriculum, at pain of sanction if they are found teaching the wrong thing or at the wrong time. The KTU has consistently fought against these constraints as well as standardised testing, and has promoted a democratic vision of education, which encourages children to think critically about the world they live in. It is partly for that reason that it is subject to continual attack from successive governments who attempt to destroy the union by arresting its leaders and by penalising members who take part in action. These tactics are continuing with the current strike, with teachers and other union members being threatened with disciplinary action if they  take part.

The South Korean trade unions as well as ex patriot South Korean organisations are calling for solidarity with Tuesday's strike. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has initiated a solidarity campaign on the Labourstart website. You can also post a solidarity message on the KCTU facebook page, here .