Supreme Court rules against unionized teachers
By Yi Whan-woo
The Supreme Court upheld a high court ruling against four unionized teachers in Gwangju, Sunday, who had been found guilty of violating the Civil Service Law for waging an anti-government campaign.
The members of the progressive Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU) were indicted for issuing a statement in June 2009 accusing the Lee Myung-bak administration of suppressing democracy.
A lower court had fined two of the four 500,000 and 1 million won, respectively, and gave the other two suspended prison sentences.
The leader of the group, surnamed Yoon, was suspended by the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education. He has filed a separate lawsuit, demanding the office reinstate him.
The top court’s ruling followed its decision to uphold another lower court decision in April against three KTU teachers in Daejeon, who also signed the anti-government statement.
Through the ruling, the court reaffirmed its hard-line stance on collective action by teachers, which is banned in Korea.
“It’s evident that the accused took collective action, a violation of the Civil Service Law that prohibits any civil servants from taking part in such activities,” a judge said. “The rally by the civil servants was also politically intended, posing a threat to public order.”
The majority of the nine judges agreed the educators broke the law. They said the accused violated political and educational neutrality by expressing politically-biased ideas in public.