: Do the laws of the Republic of Korea still make it illegal to profess Communism? The last I heard, South Korea was home to the longest-serving prisoner of cosncience in the world, a communist who'd been held since the '50s because he refused to abandon his beliefs.
Yes & No. Since the general feeling toward the freedom of ideology has been improved, statements or measures, policies which "sound like socialism/communism" can be legal, or, it can be accepted in "purely" academical approach. But, we still have the National Security Act in operation. The whole set of laws are pointed against anything socialistic or communistic. Especially this is so with article 7 of the NSA, which states people can be arrested and sentenced for "encouraging, inciting or praising any ideas or actions that is in relevance with the enemy." Of course, it does not necessarily state what kind of actions or ideas are "a threat to national security". Therefore, it means the whole thing is based on abscurity and arbitrary priciples. If you are a socialist, or you are a communist and take actions under that name; you are threatening the national security, and therefore, you will be arrested. Therefore, socialists and communists hide their identities and profess their ideas in vague and objective manner. For instance, "I am a socialist, I demand class actions against the capitalists" would get you in prison, so you have to say, "I'm not really a socialist, but I am sympathetic to certain ideas. The nature of Korean society can be analyzed under class theories, therefore, class actions within certain range might be needed."
In politics, if you are attacked as a socialist, your political life is over.
: Also, is it true there's a lot of student and labor militancy in South Korea? What is the latest news on this? Some time ago i heard that the government was planning to pass some anti-labor legislation and was using underhanded techniques to cut labor representatives out of the decision.
The students of South Korea always take pride in their militancy, and for one of the world's most significant resistances against the capitalist government. But in 1996, the riot police attacked and entered Yonsei University, where the leading student organization HCY was having their annual ceremonies about Unification of Korea. There were few casualties on both sides while the students were under siege inside the University, and during this time, the media began to mark them as "followers of North Korea". After a few forgeries, arrests, and trials, the organization HCY has been announced as an illegal(!) organization which planned treason(!!) against the government of Korea. They were marked as "Red Commies" and have been hunted down and the organiztion lay in ruins now - when the HCY were HARDLY socialists at all ! They were Nationalists.
After this, all form of social resistance has been frozen. After the current Prez. Kim Dae Jung went into office, the people triumphed their 'democratic victory'. Since we are now a "democratic" society, the people figure, any further actions against it has to be under "Commie" influence. It is not tolerated, and the people have turned their backs against it.
Social resistance in Korea is dying.
: Finally: What is the general feeling in your country about the American military presence and/or the Korean War? Also, what's the preferred term for your country? Is it "The Republic of Korea", "Korea", or "South Korea"?
While the "left" (whom, by the way, cannot announce themselves as "left" in any formal way) demands the US packs it's bags up and get out of the peninsula, most people still think it is necessary for US troops to stay, since we are still facing the North. After all, it's still Cold War out here.