The labour movement in contemporary South Korea has emerged as one of the most militant and dynamic in the world. Like many other labour movements in the developing world it bears the marks of its colonial background. Two other more singular factors have shaped the modern movement. The first is the devastating impact of the war of 1950-53 and the anti-labour governments which followed it in Korea’s intense and long-lived Cold War. The second is the state-led industrialisation drive from the 1960s to the 1980s which produced rapid industrial growth, a concentrated and powerful working class and very close ties between business and the state.