About the Author
Chun Soonok, born in 1954, is related to two major figures within the history of the labour movement in South Korea. Her brother, Chun Tae-il, poured petrol over himself in November 1970, sacrificing his life to draw attention to the inhumane treatment of Korea's garment workers. His last words were 'They are not machines'. This deed galvanised grass-roots opposition to the officially-sanctioned organization of labour and led to a new order in Korean industrial relations. Her mother, Yi So-sun, now in her 70s, has dedicated her life to the cause of human rights and democratic trade unionism and continues to play a leading role in representing the interests of workers. Chun Soonok began work in a sweat-shop garment factory in Seoul at the age of 16. Dismissed from several jobs for her trade union activities, she became involved in running a wide variety of welfare projects for workers in need. From the late 1980s she lectured on union affairs and women's issues in countries around the world. In 1989 she came to the UK to embark on a programme of study that culminated in the award of a PhD in 2001. She has been Visiting Fellow at the Cardiff University and is now research professor at Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, South Korea.