05/08/2014, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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For Korean bishops, people must be at the centre of the economy, a new morality is needed

"Tragedies like the [sinking of the] Sewol are the result of a corrupt system of values," said the president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in a message on labour rights sent to all of the country's dioceses. New "labour policies that defend people," for both migrant and Korean workers, are needed, not policies that "leave everything to the market".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - South Korea "must unite to restore morality in our society and country," said Mgr Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, bishop of Suwon.

For the prelate, who is the president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, "The economy and the market ​​are not superior to other values".

In a message on labour rights sent to the country's dioceses, he urged "the government to adopt new labour policies that put people, not numbers at the centre of things." In his view, "Tragedies like the [sinking of the] Sewol are the result of a corrupt system of values."

Indeed, the bishop paints a depressing picture of Korean society. Quoting from the Scriptures - 'The just care for the cause of the poor' (Proverbs, 29:7) - he goes on to say that "We must pray that the dignity of work and the true values ​​of humanity be fruitful in our country. At the same time, we must make every effort to see this revolution take hold."

After extending his condolences to the Sewol victims and their families, the bishop explains that the sinking "is a man-made disaster that must never happen again. We need to join forces to restore morality in our society and country."

In recent years, unemployment, job uncertainty and wage issues, which affect both migrant and Korean workers, are the by-product of an "overemphasis on the market rather than people."

"Workers' rights are more important than any another principle, be it economic or financial. The government and various political groups must develop effective labour policies that defend people, and not leave everything to the market."

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