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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Democratic Labor Party and the self-employed

One of the people whom I learn to know during my research and with whom I've managed to keep in contact, a woman in her late 40s told me that she voted for the Democratic Labor Party. As she expressed it, she didn't feel like voting at all in the first place (투표하기 싫다) but that she thought she should vote anyway. So she voted the DLP; cannot know if it was a "protest voice" against the corruption of the established parties or a genuine attachment to the policies of the DLP - perhaps closer towards the former.
She keeps a small shop by herself with the skill she learned in wage employment, and her husband, who drove a taxi for a long time, has recently given up operating a kosiwôn (exam cramming dormitory).

So the DLP and small businesskeepers? They are among the people that DLP aims to represent. From here it's difficult to say if there's been any special interest among the petty self-employed other than the increase of the party's following in general.
Of course it's not just the small businesskeepers that have complaints of the inequalities of wealth and inequalities in front of the law in Korea, but these are issues that DLP could draw on. What will be more difficult is to convince them to let the government take a bigger part of the national economy than before; DLP's "wealth tax" (puyuse) wouldn't be applied to the people I'm talking about (as far as I know), but implementing all the policies about education and health care would in the end mean a higher (or less light) tax burden also for them. I'm thinking only of the deep suspicion that virtually all the people I talked with had towards the national pension system (kungmin yôn'gûm) when it was applied also to the self-employed some years ago.
Perhaps more about this later.

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