York Centre for Asian Research hosts talk on South Korea’s Labor Party

Saihwa Hong, one of the most prominent figures in the progressive movement in South Korea, will speak at York University on April 19.

An educator, author and journalist, Hong received a baccalaureate in political science and international relations from Seoul National University (1977). His membership of the Preparation Committee for Nam-Chosun People’s Liberation Front forced him and his family to seek political asylum in France in 1979.

Hong returned to Seoul after two decades, where he worked as planning fellow at Hankyoreh Sinmun and as editor at Le Monde Diplomatique Korea in the first decade of the 21st century. His autobiographical book, I am a Taxi Driver in Paris (1995), resonated with a wide readership as a sincere account of the diasporic experience and progressive intellectualism.

He was the leader of New Progressive Party in South Korea (2011-12) before the party was dissolved to form the Labor Party, where he currently serves as adviser. He is also actively involved in wide-ranging projects such as Chair of May, which commemorates the Kwangju democratic movement in 1980, and Jean Valjean Bank, a grassroots safety-net program that provides loans without interest or a guarantor to prisoners who cannot afford bail.

His talk, “Is a Progressive Leftist Party Possible in a Divided Nation? The Case of the Labor Party in South Korea,” will take place in Room 802, South Ross Building, at 3pm on April 19. Hong’s talk is part of the York Centre for Asian Research’s Korea in Asia series.