Korea's Famous Current Affairs Cartoon, Gobawu
The rapid economic growth that would characterize the Korea of the 1970s began with the completion of the Gyeongbu Expressway in July 1970. Other examples of growth at this time include the opening of the Seoul subway system in August 1974 and the enactment of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and medical insurance system in 1977. However, rapid economic growth also had side effects. Headline-grabbing incidents from this decade include cases of upper-class women smuggling jewelry into Korea to avoid taxes, real estate market speculation by wealthy women, and a 1978 Hyundai bribery scandal involving luxury apartment parcels for corrupt politicians. Student and labor movements were also active during this period of compressed economic growth. Many university students were involved in severe political demonstrations that prompted an early end to the school term. Another important incident occurred in 1979 when around 200 women textile workers held a sit-in strike inside of the New People’s Party (Sinmindang) headquarters in opposition to layoffs from the YH Trading Company, leading to a violent clash between protesters and police that resulted in many injuries and the death of one woman. Below are these important events in Korean history from 1971 to 1980 as depicted in the comic strip Old Man Gobawu.