Washington International Law Journal


When Korea' became a democracy in 1987, Korea's militant labor movement erupted into a series of nationwide protests and explosive labor strikes. As a consequence, Korea's new democratic government enacted progressive labor laws aimed at increasing wages and improving working conditions for laborers. However, these new progressive labor laws lowered the productivity of businesses. Consequently, many Korean goods could no longer compete in the global market and Korean businesses faced bankruptcy. Tension now exists between Korean businesses and workers as each side attempts to regulate the Korean workweek. The competing interests between business and workers can be balanced by domestic technological innovation in Korea. Currently, Korean business imports expensive technology for its goods from other countries. Businesses often pay high royalty fees and enter into costly direct licensing agreements to get this technology. By creating technology domestically, Korean business can lower the amount of expensive technology it imports, earn higher profits, and still allow Korean workers to keep many of the rights given to them under the democratic government's progressive new labor laws.

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