South Korea hosts its first joint May Day
CHANGWON: Workers from the two Koreas called for the reunification of their divided homeland Tuesday when they held the first joint May Day celebration in South Korea.
Some 2,000 workers, including 60 northerners, waved “unification flags” during the May Day rally at the southern industrial city of Changwon.
It was the first time since the 1950-1953 Korean War that North Korean workers had visited South Korea for the joint May 1 international labour festival. The two Koreas, following an inter-Korean peace summit in 2000, had joint May Day celebrations in 2001 and 2004 -both in North Korea.
The North Korean men in business suits and women in traditional gowns mingled with their southern peers during the May Day ceremony which featured a rally, music concert and soccer match.
“Many people say reunification is not easy, but each step taken by labourers will lay a great foundation for the reunification,” Lee Young-Duk, head of the South’s Federation of Korean Trade Unions, said.
“Let the workers from the North and the South bring together their passion ... for a reunified fatherland,” the North’s delegate Lee Chung-Bok said.
The North’s team led by Won Hyong Guk, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, flew into Changwon Sunday and returns home Wednesday.
Meanwhile tens of thousands of people across Russia called for higher salaries and pensions on Tuesday in May Day demonstrations that for the most part carefully avoided criticism of the Kremlin.
Russian state television showed crowds gathering in cities from Vladivostok to Moscow.
Demonstrators, mostly organised by the trade unions, Communist Party, and pro-Kremlin parties, waved multi-coloured balloons and blue or red flags.
“We demand dignified work, dignified life, and dignified time off,” Mikhail Shmakov, head of the federation of independent trade unions, said on state-run Vesti 24 television. About 25,000 union members gathered in central Moscow, more than 20,000 in the Siberian city of Omsk, and more than 80,000 in Yakutia, also in Siberia, Interfax quoted police as saying. agencies