South Korean union workers recently took to the streets to demand job security while wearing costumes from the hit show “Squid Game.”
Call for better working conditions: On Wednesday, around 80,000 members of the South Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) came out to protest across the country wearing the now familiar red and black tracksuits from the Netflix show, Business Insider reported.
- KCTU, which has about 1.1 million members spread out in 13 different cities, is one of South Korea’s two major labor unions.
- The group said it is seeking help for the irregular workers — which includes temporary and contract workers — who suffered the most from the pandemic, but “the government tried to muzzle us without giving an answer.”
- Their main demands include an increase in the minimum wage and better working conditions.
- Seoul saw around 27,000 members participating in the national strike, which prompted the deployment of about 12,000 local officers. In Gwanghwamun Plaza, where many of the demonstrators converged, authorities created fences out of buses to control the crowd, reported The Straits Times.
- The demonstrations go against South Korea’s strict social distancing policies that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The government has placed a ban on all rallies in Seoul and the greater Seoul area, Reuters reported.
- Local authorities said they will file legal action against the rally organizers.
Squid Game IRL: Union workers said they connected with the main characters from the hit series as they are similarly “struggling to make a living,” a tweet from Channel News Asia’s Lim Yun Suk revealed.
Several union workers dressed in #SquidGames outfit take part in a rally in #Seoul, saying just like in the movie they too are struggling to make a living. They called on the government to improve workers’ rights. Some reports say about 30,000 took part in the rally. pic.twitter.com/tus8vj9KeG
— LIM Yun Suk (@yunsukCNA) October 20, 2021
- “Squid Game” focuses on 456 participants of a brutal contest who are pitted against each other in deadly “children’s games” to win 45 billion won (about $40 million).
- South Korea is known to have a notoriously punishing work culture, as NextShark previously reported.
- Korean employees, on average, worked for 2,113 hours in 2015, placing them third among 35 countries, just behind Mexico and Costa Rica in more worked hours.
- Lee Chang-keun, one of the thousands of workers laid off at South Korea’s Ssangyong Motors in 2009, said scenes from the show reminded him of his co-workers who have died, ABC reported.
- “In ‘Squid Game,’ you see characters scrambling to survive after being laid off at work, struggling to operate fried chicken diners or working as ‘daeri’ drivers,” a rental service where drivers take drunk people home in their own cars,” Lee was quoted as saying.
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