“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.”
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.
One of six children, Geum-Soon was born into a family that had been farming for many generations. 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 support, she eventually received a degree in Environmental Engineering. In the early 1980s, Geum-Soon worked to organize and educate young farmers and also began a childcare center for farmers’ children. Geum-Soon married in 1990, moved to Sung-ju, and has worked there as a farmer ever since. In Sung-ju she opened and managed another 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 for farmers’ rights. Having served as policy chair, secretary general, and vice-president of the Korea Women Farmers Association (KWFA), she now serves as its president. Geum-Soon’s work in agriculture, reunification, and international farmers’ solidarity continues to make an impact. By conceiving a 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 day care 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.
Reunification Solidarity Korea Women Farmers Association (KWFA) Viacampasina
Eastern Asia | Republic of Korea