Geum-Soon Yoon – South Korea

also called: Yoon, Keum-Soon

Linked with Via Campesina.org, International Peasant Movement,
with Ha-Joon Chang, South Korea & England, with Heisoo Shin, South Korea, and with Sook-Im Kim, South Korea.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

One of the founders of the Korea Women Farmers Association KWFA, Geum-Soon Yoon has helped to place women and farmers in the forefront of her country’s reunification movement. Educated as an environmental engineer, Geum-Soon worked within the farmers’ movement to improve the lives of the poor farmers. As vice-president of KWFA, she was instrumental in making the historic first reunification conference between North and South Korean farmers a success. Geum-Soon is a sharp critic of globalization policies that negatively affect farmers’ rights and the environment.

She says: “Most women neither possess land nor have the right of joint possession. They are excluded from education and training, buying machinery, financial support. Only their husbands have these rights”.

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Geum-Soon Yoon, also called: Yoon, Keum-Soon – South Korea

She works for Reunification Solidarity; for the Korea Women Farmers Association KWFA: also named on Wiser Earth, address: Korea Women Farmers Association KWFA, Sambo Building 303, Yanjae-Dong, 247-4, Seocho-ku, Seoul, Korea 137 130; and for Via Campasina. (See also: Members of La Via Campesina).

She writes: She told she was extremely happy when she picked up green peppers which was going to be her own name product. Changes in the farming area encourage her to work pleasedly. When the plants got desease or when the products were sold at a very cheap price, she had a broken heart. Nevertheless, the heart-breaking incident reversed a courage to her. She asked other women farmers to put her own name as a producer, but it caused to a couple-quarreling in such a conservative agricultural society. Even the women farmers’ meeting was often blocked by their husbands. Generally speaking, the main female farmers’ issue to be solved is a welfare thing. However, the most important problem raised by Yoon, Keum-soon is that women should be regarded as major farmers. Of course, the welfare issue is also important. Because of lack of child-care facilities, children are ignored and mothers are easily tired by double day works. Most of female farmers suffer in a poor health condition … (full text).

Persistent and consistent, Geum-Soon Yoon has been a pioneer in a society that historically did not value or give representation to women or farmers. She also swam upstream in her unification work: anti-North Korea ideology stemming from the division of Korea is very strong.

One of six children, Geum-Soon was born to a family who had been farming for many generations. In order to finish her education, when she was in the 6th grade she left her parents to live with her sister in Seoul. With her sister’s help, she eventually received a degree in Environmental Engineering.

In the early 1980s, she began organizing and educating young farmers and operated a childcare for the children of farmers Choong-ju City.

She was married in 1990, moved to Sung-ju, and has worked there as a farmer ever since. In Sung-ju she also opened and managed a childcare service. She and her husband have fraternal twins and together they organically cultivate rice, pepper and cabbage. She has continued her leadership and advocacy.

After serving as policy chair, secretary general, and vice president of the KWFA, she currently serves as its president.

Geum-Soon’s work in agriculture, reunification, and international farmers’ solidarity continues to make an impact. By outlining ‘Self Reliant Woman Farmers Movement,’ she helped to create an ideological and theoretical foundation and vision for some of Korea’s least powerful citizens – its women farmers.

She is a vigilant watchdog of national and international agricultural policies, protesting against strategies that sacrifice the agricultural sector to rampant industrialization. The daycare system that she created in Choong-ju and Sung-ju has spread to other farming villages.

And success in the reunification process of North and South Korea has helped women farmers understand that they can be active agents for social change. (1000peacewomen).

She writes also: Economic reforms in Korea have only meant greater hardship for women farmers. It has meant intensified work on the fields. Recent studies reveal that women’s contribution in farming is as much as that of men though with the patriarchal norms wielding influence in Korea, wonwn’s status in society is still not acknowledged as being equal to that of men. Further complicating matters for women are the unrecognized duties at the household and community level, only serving to add to their already heavy workload. (full text).

Living at Heungsan 2-ri, Daega-myeon, Sungju-kun, North Kyeongsang Province, Yoon, Keum-soon has been very busy in these days, who grows green pepper and cucumber at a green house in a small village totally made of 25 families. She is 170 cm tall and a general secretary of the Korea Women Farmers Association (KWFA) who has to visit to women farmers spread all over the country.

Thus, growing green pepper and cucumber has been stopped for the time being. Actually, she expected that her husband worked for her but he has his own work of growing melons. He is put even in the situation of hiring someone to do her work. She is a mother of twins who just entered an elementary school. Let’s listen to her hard but healthy life story!

In 1959, she was born in Kanghwado as the youngest daughter in a rural area. Since her childhood, she was a big helper for the farming work. Generally, the sexual discrimination between son and daughter was very serious in those days, her elder sister was not exception. When she went to Seoul to make money, she encouraged her younger sisters to come into Seoul to study.

Yoon, Keum-soon also had a chance to go to Seoul when she was the fifth grade in elementary school. However, her hometown, Kanghwado is near to Seoul, so she had to go down her home very often to help the farming work. Although the work was so hard for such a young girl, but she was managed to do that …

… Yoon Keum-soon, herself is worrying about education and lunch for her children who are elementary school students. The feeding problem of students’ lunch in school costs a lot and extra work of mothers which requires mother to work in a school canteen in turn.

Besides, she is in charge of general secretary of KWFA, she has to be away from her home so often. But she appreciates sincere help from her husband in spite of his own work. Her mother-in-law said to her if she works as a full-timer for KWFA, she has to take one of her children to Seoul. That is the biggest agony to her in these days. In spite of many difficulties of working inside and outside, she gives a hope and courage to KWFA. (full long text).

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links:

Our world is not for sale (Via Campesina);

on Via Campesina: TO COMMEMORATE LEE WHO SACRIFIED HIMSELF TO STOP THE TERROR OF NEO-LIBERAL “FREE” TRADE;

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about The Reunification Solidarity of South Korea;

KCNA – Grand Reunification March Held in Seoul, August 15, (2003);

North Korea Special Weapons News, 2003/06/06-23;

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