Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

A Single Spark

13 November 1970
Chun Tae-il

Chun Tae-il, a garment worker in Seoul, South Korea, set himself afire to protest against employer and police repression of workers demonstrating for their rights on 13 November 1970. As flames consumed his body, Chun shouted 'Obey the Labor Standards Act! Don't mistreat young girls!' He is remembered as the father of modern trade-unionism in South Korea. His mother, Lee So-sun, who witnessed his death, founded the Garment Workers Union (Chunggye Pibok) immediately after her son's funeral. Women spearheaded the union movement throughout the 1970s.