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Yoon Seok-youl Belittles Physical Labor Before College Students

Yu Sul-hee 입력 2021. 09. 17. 05:31

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[경향신문]

Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a presidential candidate of the People Power Party speaks with students at Andong National University on September 13. Yoon Seok-youl’s Facebook account

On September 15, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl’s thoughts on labor was placed on the cutting board, because of his comments that the distinction between regular and non-regular workers was meaningless if there were no difference in wages and that working with your hands and feet was something they did in Africa. Such comments came under fierce attack as people criticized them as comments that lacked any idea of stable employment and that degraded physical labor. This day, Yoon visited the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and tried to resolve the situation by saying, “Stable employment is also important.” Previously in July, Yoon had stirred controversy by saying, “You should be able to rest as much as you want even after working intensively for 120 hours a week.”

On September 13, Yoon met with the students of Andong National University in Gyeongsangbuk-do and when a student asked about jobs for young people he said, “We need to make sure there isn’t much of a difference between regular and non-regular jobs, between jobs in large companies and SMEs,” and added, “If there is no gap in wages, what significance would the distinction between regular and non-regular jobs have? Young people these days don’t really think about working in one place their whole life, do they?”

This ignited criticism that Yoon failed to understand the reality of non-regular workers and young people looking for employment. Yoon’s camp released a statement the previous day and said, “He meant that if we work to get rid of the wage gap, the distinction between regular and non-regular workers would eventually disappear.”

Former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min wrote on social media, “Is he telling young people to hop from job to job like a grasshopper all their lives as non-regular workers, while the older generation go to their lifelong regular jobs?” He also described Yoon’s comment as one “that had no idea of stable employment.” Jeon Yong-gi, spokesperson for Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung’s campaign released a comment the previous day and said, “Perhaps the world that Yoon Seok-youl pictures is one of modern-day slavery, where workers work 120 hours eating junk food while the employer can fire them anytime.” He also said, “Once again, Yoon plainly showed his unrealistic views of labor.”

When the controversy refused to subside, Yoon met with reporters when visiting the Federation of Korean Trade Unions this day and said, “The so-called flexibility (probably a mistaken reference to flexicurity) in Germany and the Netherlands is based on the premise that employers can freely lay off workers, so I think it is difficult to introduce that in our country at present.” He further explained, “If stability is not maintained, employment cannot lead to experience and basic rights, so I think it’s a little too early to introduce that in our country.”

It was belatedly reported that Yoon had also said, “There is nothing that we humans can do by working with our hands and feet. They don’t even do that in India anymore. That’s something they do in Africa,” during his meeting with the students in Andong.

Kang Min-jin, leader of the Youth Justice Party wrote on her social media account, “Not being aware of other people’s labor, which allows one to maintain one’s daily routine, is the typical arrogance of the so-called elite,” and asked, “How can a person who fails to consider the labor of those around him become a president looking after the lives of countless citizens?” She also said, “The comment was incredibly ignorant of the reality of young people, who have no option other than unstable labor,” and added, “If he thinks non-regular jobs are so great, why doesn’t he try turning prosecutors into non-regular positions?” Hong Seo-yun, the spokesperson for young people of the Democratic Party released a comment this day and said, “In the Republic of Korea, the number of workers who, as Yoon said, work with their hands and feet exceed 4 million, even by a rough estimate,” and argued, “Yoon’s comment just showed that he was an old-fashioned politician who distinguishes noble and base jobs.”

This day, Yoon met with reporters and asked, “Didn’t we export goods to other countries by making wigs through simple labor in the 1960s?” He then explained, “Now for quality jobs, we need to be armed with technology. I made the comment suggesting that it would be good for college students to secure their capacity by focusing on areas like advanced science and computers.”

ⓒ 경향신문 & 경향닷컴(www.khan.co.kr), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지

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