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Railway union members take refuge in Seoul temple

Updated: 2013-12-26 AM 6:29:01 (KST)
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Seventeen days in, the railway union and the government remain deadlocked.
At least four union members, including deputy labor union leader Park Tae-man all of whom evaded arrest during a police raid in Seoul on Sunday, have sought refuge inside the Jogyesa Temple in the capital.
Around 2-hundred-50 police officers have set up outside to arrest any of the individuals should they set foot outside the temple, but authorities say they have no immediate plans to send officers in.
The union's spokesman, Baek Sung-kon said the union members entered the temple on Tuesday night.
He also urged the government and state-run railway operator, KORAIL to halt plans to create a new railway operator, which the union says is a step toward privitization.

"We ask for the public's understanding about why we were so desperate as to seek help from religious circles,.. as we try to protect ourselves from authorities."

The country's political rival parties are divided on how the authorities are handling the standoff.
The ruling Saenuri Party says the union should stop using the temple for personal gains and should turn themselves in.
The main opposition Democratic Party says the police operation around the temple is inappropriate, and called for a better approach to resolve the conflict.
The current standoff was prompted after the union declared an indefinite walkout on December 9th in protest of a plan to form a subsidiary that will manage new Korea Train Express routes departing from southern Seoul.
The government has denied since day one of the strike that it's moving toward privitization, saying instead that management of the railway operator must improve, pointing to its debt of 16.6 billion U.S. dollars.
But the railway union shows no signs of backing down.
They've called for rallies throughout the nation on Thursday, and a large-scale protest in Seoul on Saturday.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.

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