Both Catholic papers brought to the attention of the readers the Simdo Textile Factory (1967-68) incident which inaugurated the Church's entrance on the side of the workers in their struggle for justice.
Diocesan Labor Sunday, commemorated the day with a symposium recalling the forming of a labor union at the Simdo Textile Factory, and
the struggles required. Workers at the factory considered
themselves dust rags, exploited and oppressed and decided to form a
labor union. Members of the JOC (Young Christian Workers) were leaders in the formation of
the labor union, angering the company, all fired and spied
Fr. Michael Bransfield, a Maryknoller, was
pastor of the Catholic Church on Kangwha Island who gave them space
and indirectly supported the workers, which angered the company. They
warned him for breaking the law against helping
Communists, and threatened him with arrest.
The bishop of Masan, who later became the
ordinary of Seoul, Cardinal Kim, was the president of the JOC at that
time, representing the Church, he came to the island to speak with the
workers.The bishops responded with a statement that supported the
workers in their efforts. They were successful and all the fired workers were reinstated.
During the symposium the
first topic of discussion was recalling the Simdo Textile incident, and
its meaning; second topic was the situation of laborers and the
future, third was the direction the Church is to walk with the
On May 10th many of those who were involved
in the forming of the textile labor union went to the grounds of the old
textile factory, and put up a monument on the grounds of the factory to
remember the incident that opened the eyes of many to the problems of workers in society, and the first step in the Church's involvement in society,speaking in support of the workers.