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Women in the SkyGender and Labor in the Making of Modern Korea$
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Hwasook Nam

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501758263

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501758263.001.0001

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Women Workers in Industrializing Korea

Women Workers in Industrializing Korea

From the 1960s to the 1980s

(p.111) 5 Women Workers in Industrializing Korea
Women in the Sky

Hwasook Nam

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines South Korea's developmental era, from the 1960s to the 1980s. It focuses on the effect of the industrial relations system that consolidated during the 1950s and 1960s and, in particular, the ways in which institutionalization of the male breadwinner model and family living wage discourse in the labor movement beginning in the 1960s enforced the continuing invisibility of yŏgong. The chapter then explores the ways in which women factory workers in the 1970s and 1980s built their grassroots organizational power and developed critical consciousness and practices regarding the gender discrimination they faced at work. The setting here is export-industry factories, including textile, wig, and electronics shops, in Seoul and the surrounding Kyŏnggi Province, with th occasional visit to Kwangju, the provincial capital of South Chŏlla Province. Radical intellectuals and students, like the socialists of the colonial era, recognized women workers' revolutionary potential, and another generation of students-turned-labor organizers emerged, forging a tension-ridden relationship of the so-called worker–student alliance (nohak yŏndae) and further complicating the politics of memory surrounding the 1970s labor movement.

Keywords:   male breadwinner, family living wage, labor movement, gender discrimination, labor organizers, industrial relations system, South Korea, women factory workers

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