Imprisoned S. Korean labor leader named winner of 2016’s Freedom from Fear Award

Posted on : 2016-10-11 15:52 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Han Sang-gyun unable to receive award in person, as he is in prison for organizing a demonstration last year
Han Sang-gyun
Han Sang-gyun

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions president Han Sang-gyun, who is currently serving a prison sentence for organizing a demonstration last year, was selected by UNI Global Union, an international union federation, as the winner of 2016’s Freedom from Fear Award.

On Oct. 10, South Korea’s National Union of Media Workers announced that it had recently been notified of the news of Han’s selection during a meeting with the media department of the UNI Global Union’s Asia-Pacific regional office.

Launched in Jan. 2000, the UNI Global Union is an international industry-based union that currently has more than 1,000 unions from 160 countries on its roll, representing a membership of 20 million people. There are 300,000 people enrolled in umbrella unions that are part of the UNI Global Union’s South Korean council, including the National Union of Media Workers, the Korean Health and Medical Workers‘ Union, the Korean Federation of Service Workers’ Unions, the Korean Federation of Clerical and Financial Labor Unions, the Korean Financial Industry Union and the Korean Postal Workers’ Union.

On Sep. 6, Philip Jennings, general secretary of the UNI Global Union, and Christopher Ng, regional secretary for UNI Asia and Pacific, came to South Korea to visit Han during his incarceration. During their interview, Jennings and Ng encouraged Han and expressed their “enthusiastic support” for his struggle.

Since then, major labor organizations around the world have resolved to take joint action to push for Han’s release, and this reportedly was the reason he has been chosen to receive the prize.

The awards ceremony will reportedly be held at the meeting of the world executive committee of UNI Global Union, which will be taking place in Nyon, Switzerland, on Nov. 16. Yu Ji-hyeon, chair of the Korean Health and Medical Workers‘ Union, is planning to receive the award on behalf of Han, who will be unable to attend since he is in prison.

By Choi Won-hyung, staff reporter

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