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Contesting or Fractured Language - Focusing on Daewoo Shipbuilding Labor Union’s ‘Okpo Novo’ -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2021, (83), pp.43-78
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.083.02
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 11, 2021
  • Accepted : November 1, 2021
  • Published : November 30, 2021

HYEONA Shin 1

1동아대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

It is still common to look into the ‘field’ and the workers through the turning point of the 1987 Grand Struggle of Workers. Workers who had revolted in 1987 were no longer fighting as ‘Goliath workers’ through the 1990s, as they received various welfare benefits and high wages provided by the companies. Now, the center of the Korean working class is no longer the Goliath worker. An important turning point in this narrative flow is the new business management strategy that began in 1990. In particular, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) had been carrying out the Hope 90’s Movement since 1990, and with a budget of about 2 billion won, various internal and external cultural projects and education of consciousness were implemented to create the idea of a corporate family through consolidating a ‘labor-management harmony’. At the same time, as a result of stronger suppression of the union through disciplinary action, dismissal, and arrest, the union’s dominance in the field was weakened, which became a major factor for evaluating Daewoo Shipbuilding’s Hope 90’s Movement as ‘successful’. In this narrative flow, the workers who were exploited arose in 1987 and gained their identity as workers, but their identity as workers was weakened due to the company’s new management strategy in the 1990s. And through the heyday of the shipbuilding industry in the 2000s, they took on the character of the middle class. It means that it fell behind without being able to follow the trend of the times. After all, do the workers simply enjoy a life that mimics the middle class on an isolated island, being separated from the center, and then simply disappear into the background of the times? Should we say that workers are only falling apart after being seduced by capital to covet and imitate a bourgeois life that is not allowed for them? What do workers say about this? In order to find another answer to that question, it is necessary to look at the records of the workers who fought for finding their share even after the mythical struggle called the ‘87 Grand Struggle’. Therefore, in this paper, based on a close reading of ‘Okpo Nobo (옥포 노보)’, the newsletter of Daewoo Shipbuilding’s labor union (since 1990, ‘Cry of Opening the Dawn’), we learn how workers created their own language apart from the language of the capitalists and fought for themselves in order not to forget their language again. In particular, this article will focus on ‘Okpo-Nobo’ from 1988 to 1989. The union was formed in August 1987 and ‘Okpo Nobo’, published from 1988 to 1989, is an important source of records from the earliest days of union establishment. At first, they did not have their own language, so they borrowed the language of the capitalists. But in the process, they gradually acquired their own language, thus creating a situation in which various voices of workers coexisted.

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