Will S. Korea’s New Naval Base Provoke China?

The Diplomat – By Andrew Yeo – July 10, 2013

On Jeju Island, a small paradise off the southwest coast of South Korea, protests have occurred on a near daily basis for almost three years.

Although somewhat unusual for an island known for its popularity as a tourist destination for honeymooners, a segment of local residents, joined by domestic and transnational activists, remain staunchly opposed to the construction of a South Korean naval base on an “island of peace.”

Among several their several grievances, opponents of the base argue that its construction may trigger a naval arms race in the region, while increasing tensions with China.

Most South Koreans have dismissed these concerns as either a classic not-in-my-backyard type protest or a politically motivated agenda driven by leftist activists and opposition party members. An August 2011 piece in The Diplomat about the Jeju base, for instance, dismissed opponents’ concerns about the purpose of the naval base and its ties to broader U.S. military objectives in the region. As farfetched as activists may seem in their protests, however, their concerns are worth considering amid the worsening strategic environment in Northeast Asia.

The South Korean government began discussion about a potential naval base on Jeju Island in the 1990s, and during the Roh Moo-hyun administration (2003-2008) the base was approved as a way for the ROK military to transform itself into a more self-reliant defense force – that is, one less dependent on the United States.

Currently, the base remains consistent with South Korea’s future plans to modernize its military by building a blue-water navy by 2020. …

Read on:

Fighting for Survival on Jeju Island

Organizing Notes – By Bruce Gagnon – May 10, 2013

Gangjeong villagers last night were removed while protecting tents they had long used just across the road from the Navy base construction gate on Jeju Island, South Korea. The government appears to be continuing with its fierce crackdown since the election of the new president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former brutal South Korean dictator who had once served as an officer in the Japanese imperial Army. He was essentially a US puppet and his daughter appears to be serving the same purpose today.

The villager tents were used by construction gate protesters to rest, offer information to the public, and to display banners in opposition to the base. In the current climate they are being removed again and again from various public spaces as the Navy tightens its grip on the village. Navy plans reveal that they intend to take significant portions of the village for military personnel housing once the port facilities are complete. ..

Read on/see photos

Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo’s Ends Prison Fast at 52 Days

Save Jeju Now – March 24, 2013

YangProf. Yang Yoon-Mo will end his 52 days long hunger strike on March 24 on Sunday. Eight representatives of SPARK (Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea) peace organization and Fr. Mun Jeong-hyon visited Prof. Yang to Jeju prison on March 19 and pleaded to stop the fast. In a meeting room specially provided to see him face to face, representatives persuaded him and he finally promised to start to eat light gruel from Monday, March 25. This visit was made out of people’s earnest wishes to have Pro. Yang stop the fast.

On the other hand, Rev. Kim Hong-sul(chair of SPARK Busan branch) and Rev. Kim Hee-yong from Gwangju, will do overnight 4 days fast prayer in front of Jeju prison from March 26 to 29 demanding the release of Prof. Yang and stop of Jeju naval base. Both of them also have visited Prof. Yang on March 7 and persuaded Prof. Yang to end the fast expressing their solidarity action at Jeju prison. …

Read on:

Statement Opposing U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises Key Resolve Foal Eagle – By David Swanson – February 28, 2013

Stop War Games, Start Peace Talks

The Korean War, known in the United States as “The Forgotten War,” has never ended. Every year, the United States stages a series of massive joint war games with its ally, South Korea (ROK). These coordinated exercises are both virtual and real. Among other things, they practice live fire drills and simulate the invasion of North Korea—including first-strike options.

While we – peace, human rights, faith-based, environmental, and Korean solidarity activists– are deeply concerned about North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test, we also oppose the U.S.-ROK joint war games as adding to the dangerous cycle of escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula. North Korea views these war games as an act of provocation and threat of invasion like that which we have witnessed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and routinely condemns these maneuvers as aimed at “bring[ing] down the DPRK by force” and forcing it to“bolster up the war deterrent physically.” South Korean activists also decry the role of these war games in the hostile perpetuation of the division of the Korean peninsula and are often persecuted for their protests under South Korea’s draconian National Security Law.

The U.S.-ROK “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” annual war games, usually staged in March, and “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” in August, typicallylast for months and involve tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and deployed from the United States, as well as hundreds of thousands of their ROK counterparts. U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Space Command forces will participate in these exercises and practice scenarios including the removal of North Korea’s leadership, occupation of Pyeongyang, and reunification of the peninsula under U.S. and South Korean control.

In South Korea, peace and reunification groups have long opposed these war games. They have called for peninsula-wide demilitarization entailing the eventual removal of U.S. troops. As one organization puts it, “Unless and until US forces are completely and permanently withdrawn from South Korea, it will be impossible to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.”

We call upon the U.S. and South Korean governments to stop the costly and provocative war games and take proactive steps to deescalate the current tensions on the Korean peninsula. …

Read on:

Hawaiian Goddess held a peace concert in Gangjeong

Save Jeju Now

A friend of Peace from Hawai’i, who has passionately spread the news of Gangjeong in Hawaii and joined the sufferings of Gangjeong for two weeks has recently left the village. Deulkkot, a peace activist here, made an improvised costume for her with Korean-traditional cloths. On Feb. 20 the Hawaiian goddess made a peace concert in front of the Jeju naval base project building complex. It happened to be the 20th day of prison fast by Yang Yoon-Mo, currently, the only political prisoner. We want to send her and her friend, Chompsky, our deep gratitude. We also pray for her health and peace.


Action Item: Appeal to Cut All Budgets on the Jeju Naval Base Project

Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia & the Pacific

The national election in S. Korea is in December and the people of Jeju are asking that supporters the world over send the following message to each of the email addresses listed at the bottom of the page. Please help. It will only take a minute.

Title: Cut all budgets on the Jeju naval base project. The world is watching!

Dear Democratic United Party members of National Defense committee of the ROK National Assembly.

Please cut all budgets on the Jeju naval base project. I heard that your party is considering to agree with the ruling Saenuri party to pass the budget in all or part in the National Assembly, soon. It is a shame that your party considers it despite all illegal, undemocratic, environment destructive, human rights- violating matters of the Jeju naval base project that became clear to the eyes of internationals. I was also shocked to hear that the Jeju naval base is nothing but the US base as the Commander of the US navy forces of Korea has intervened in the base design for US nuclear aircraft carrier and US submarines.

Do you truly want the South Koreans’ tax paid for the US war base against China? It will greatly disturb peace in the North East Asia and world. Please remember that your deed will affect not only Koreans but voiceless creatures and people in the world.

It is unbelievable and shame if your party agrees to pass the budget. Please insist on the position of cutting all the budget of 2010 billion won on the Jeju naval base project 2013.

Jeju Island’s Struggle for Peace – Bruce Gagnon’s video report

Jeju Island, South Korea, is a unique cultural and natural treasure that must be protected from US military expansion. Documentary produced by Bruce Gagnon, for more information see

Free Yang Yoon-Mo!

A jailed movie critic, Yang Yoon-Mo, starts a hunger strike

Source: Paco Booyah

Yang Yoon-Mo, a movie critic and one of the prominent opponents against the Jeju naval base project was directly arrested and jailed from the court on Feb. 1, 2013 . It is his 4th time imprisonment. He is the one who has been jailed the most numerous times during the struggle against the base project by now. (see the below for the details) He was also one of the subjects of the individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.

He is currently in prison and you may write encouraging and supporting letters to him:

Yang Yoon-Mo(No. 301)

Jeju Prison, 161 Ora-2dong, Jeju City, Jeju, the Peace Island, Korea

The criminal department No. 4 of the higher court in Jeju (Judge: Oh Hyun-Kyu), annulling the 1st court decisions of probation etc. on him, sentenced 1 year and six months imprisonment against him who has been charged of obstruction of business etc (Refer to the Korean articles). Such court arrest has not occurred before his case in the struggle to stop the base project. He also became the first opponent against the base project who got an actual prison sentence.

The cases of the 1st trials have been annexed in the trial sentence of appeal on Feb. 1. Those are the cases of the 1st court decisions on June 1, 2011 (After the arrest on April 16, 2011, charged of obstruction of business, violation on the punishment on the violence Act etc. The court decision on him was 1 year and six months imprisonment with two year suspension), on March 20, 2012 (After the arrest on Jan. 30, 2012, charged of obstruction of business etc. The court decision on him was 10 months imprisonment with two year suspension), and on the charge of violation on the Public Water Act ( That was for a sit-in tent in the Gureombi Rock. He was sentenced ‘no guilty,’ in this case)

Given that it was a decision on his appeal aginst the 1st court decision, such an unusual and harsh sentence made people confirm that it was a political retaliation not only against him whose health is already weak for the protest fasts twice in 2011 (more than 74 days) and 41 days (2012) but also the whole opposition movement people against the Jeju naval base project, especially after the government manipulated its political ground to push the base project with a false report on the government-supervised simulation ‘show’ on Jan. 31 (details will come later). It is also a violence that preludes merciless oppression on human rights and environmental destruction. …

Read on:


Prof. Bruce Cumings on why another base is not needed in S. East Asia, much less on Jeju Island.

Bruce Cumings on Jeju Protest from Regis Tremblay on Vimeo.

Bruce Cumings is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, and specializes in modern Korean history and East Asian-American relations.

He shares his views with Regis Tremblay about the Navy base now being built on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Bruce is arguably one of the leading experts on Korean History and the Korean War. His book, The Korean War, A History, is a must read for anyone interested in discovering the truth about Korea and the Korean War. He revealed the previously untold stories of the bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and exposes the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides.

Text from:

Report on January 22, 2013

Yesterday (Jan. 21) 6 National Assembly members of the Democratic United Party came to the blockade, today(Jan. 22) 3 members of the United Progressive Party are here.

The National Assembly ordered construction to stop for 70 days until Samsung C&T performs a proper simulation to see if the 150,000 ton ships can safely navigate the harbour. Samsung C&T continued construction anyways without funding from the treasury, making this current construction illegal.

The responsibility for holding the government vibrator accountable is on the Jeju province governor who has so far proven to be completely in support of the corporation over his own people. Also I suspect the neo-liberal poster child president elect Park Geun-hye has granted Samsung immunity for when she gets inaugurated next month.

So until the government does its job, the people blockade.

The Save Jeju Campaign has a new website

You can find it at:

Take a good look and spread the word!

Touch not one stone, not one flower.

A coordinated international is trying to save South Korea’s beautiful Jeju Island from destruction. We have the chance to participate, and in so doing to help form a badly needed partnership between the environmental and antiwar movements.

The World Conservation Congress 2012 is being held on Jeju Island in two weeks — while just four miles away, in the island’s Gangjeong Village, construction is beginning on a massive new naval base to be used by the U.S. Dredging of the seabed and coral has already begun.

Help put a stop to it now.

The extraordinary biological diversity, unique volcanic topography, and the culture of Jeju Island attract many tourists. The Sea of Gangjeong is a national cultural treasure adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins remain, and they live here — one of many species threatened by base construction. The damage will be devastating.

But Samsung, the primary contractor for base construction, is sponsoring the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which is pretending all is well.

Let them know we aren’t fooled. Demand that Samsung halt construction and the WCC oppose the base.

94% of the residents of Jeju Island have voted against construction of the base.

If the base is constructed, it will host nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, as well as Aegis missile-carrying warships. U.S. taxpayers will pay the cost of the Obama administration “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific, while Jeju Islanders pay with a damaged home. Ultimately, the cost to the earth and the risk of war will belong to all of us.

Villagers have been arrested during nonviolent protests. Police and construction workers have assaulted elderly members of the community, who represent a large portion of the activists. Raising our voices in solidarity is the least we can do.

Touch not one stone, not one flower.

Jeju Island Base Divides Korean, International Green Groups

IPS News Agency – By Jon Letman – August 10, 2012

As construction of a hotly contested naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island advances, there’s a showdown underway.
Korean groups, increasingly aided by sympathetic outsiders, are protesting the base which they say is being built in Gangjeong village under pressure from the United States.

But the latest battle isn’t between base protestors and Korea’s military or police, it’s between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and those opposing its upcoming Sep. 6-15 World Conservation Congress (WCC) at Jungmon resort, seven km from Gangjeong.

Jeju, home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites and numerous other environmental and cultural special status designations (see side bar), is taking on new strategic importance as regional military powers and the United States, which maintains dozens of military bases in South Korea, Japan and Okinawa, vie for dominance in northeast Asia.

The naval base at Gangjeong, which Seoul said will also have civilian uses, is expected to accommodate submarines and up to 20 warships, including U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyers which opponents say will make the island less safe, not more.

For five years, Gangjeong has been the site of daily protests and frequent arrests. Now, just weeks before the Congress is to begin, conservationists, academics and NGOs are challenging the IUCN. …

Read on:

The Deadly Connection: Endless War and Economic Crisis

TalkingStickTV – Bruce Gagnon

Protest for “No Naval Base in Jeju Island” at the Embassy of Republic of Korea, London

May 9, 2012

No Naval Base - US Missile Offense on Jeju Island

Banner in support of this cause at the CAAB Tuesday evening weekly demonstration outside the main entrance to NSA Menwith Hill

The May edition of ‘Gangjeong Village Story’

Read/download this newsletter here (5.8 MB pdf)

Jeju, Island of Peace

This excellent video was made by Dennis Apel, a Catholic worker from California. Dennis came to the Global Network meeting on Jeju Island in February and put this together. He gives you a quick view of what happened during the trip.

U.S. And South Korea Assault An Idyllic Island: Not For The First Time

Huntington News
By Brian Willson
April 28, 2012

The beautiful island of Jeju in South Korea is packed with natural and cultural treasures and designated a UNESCO world heritage site. But it has the misfortune of appearing to the U.S. military strategically positioned to play a part in surrounding China.

Most Americans are unaware of Jeju or of the U.S. policy of increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific — even moving the Marines into Australia. But for the people of Jeju, attempting to nonviolently resist the construction of a new military base, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu.

In fact Jeju’s history is central to how the United States became the militarized nation it has been for over half a century. …

The Korean residents of pristine Jeju Island vigorously oppose the construction of a deep-water port to host Korean and U.S. guided missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers at the village of Gangjeong. The South Korean government headed by reactionary President Lee Myung Bak is ruthlessly repressing their legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech. This is not acceptable. The residents of Jeju have a long history of living in peace and harmony. They were brutalized in the late 1940s for wanting independence, and are being brutalized once again for attempting to preserve self-determination. It is déjà vu.

We have been following the daily brutal repression by as many as 1,500 Korean police and security forces of Jeju’s 1,500 residents whose voices of passionate and nonviolent opposition have been completely ignored. When we called the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask why this deep-water port construction continues in Gangjeong over objections of more than 90 percent of its residents, the answer has been, “Don’t call us, call your own (U.S.) government.” Political pressure from the U.S. continues to interfere with sovereignty of the Korean people as their own government disrespects, then represses, the free speech of its own citizens despite protections inscribed in the Korean constitution. …

In full:

Congratulations to Father Moon on being awarded the 2012 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights!

Father Moon Hospital

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is given to “individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace through their work.” It commemorates the famous May 18, 1980 Gwangju Democracy Movement which ended in the massacre of thousands of civilians and ultimately catalyzed Korea’s transition to democracy in 1987. Past recipients of this award include Xanana Gusmao, the first president of independent East Timore and Aung San Suu Kui, General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar.

Father Moon was released from hospital on April 19, and has returned to Gangjung village for recovery. In a statement following his release, he vowed to “stand alongside the villagers of Gangjung until the victorious end of their struggle.”

Father Moon is continuing to recover from the injuries he suffered as a result of his encounter with the Korean Coast Guard. The protest against the construction in Gangjung continues, with Catholic and Protestant priests and Buddhist monks and nuns joining activists and villagers in group hunger strikes and prayers. Public solidarity with Gangjung continues to be strong, with over 3500 citizens, politicians, and activists joining a recent event organized by villagers.

In the meantime, authorities continue to use force and violence to repress the protest movement. When activists and villagers chained themselves to one another in an attempt to block construction, the South Korean police used chainsaws and hammers to cut through the links attache to the bare arms of the protesters. During this terrifying spectacle, Father Moon Gyu-hyun, the brother of Father Moon Jeong-hyun, suffered a cardiac episode and had to be hospitalized.

Many thanks to everyone for your continuing solidarity with Jeju peace movement in this difficult and desperate hour!

Jeju for the Island of World Peace

In the hope to unite a peaceful community in the Asia-Pacific through Soft Power

Shin, Yong-In : Professor of the Law School, Jeju University

1. A Change in International Politics and the Emergence of Soft Power

Traditionally, in the field of international politics, hard power, which focuses on military and economic power, has been considered very important. Moreover, it has been widely deemed that the strengthening of hard power is the ticket to garnering national security and profit, given that the current international society is similar to a state of anarchy without a single governing authority. However, since the 1990s, commensurate with globalization, computerization and democratization, international politics has gone beyond the bounds of hard power. Soft power is now recognized as very critical for a nation’s security and its profit.

According to the widely regarded scholar of international politics, Joseph S. Nye, soft power is the ability to convince other nations into wanting what one wants by setting an agenda and appealing to them. In short, soft power is the ability to empathize. The resource for soft power is a nation’s culture, political philosophy, foreign policy, and the like. With rising recognition of the importance of soft power, powerful nations — such as the U.S., China, and Japan– in Asia-Pacific region are strengthening their soft power with tremendous effort.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S., as the remaining world superpower, has exercised unilateral foreign diplomacy by mostly focusing on the control over other nations. After realizing that global citizens are neither happy nor supportive of an American-dominated world hegemony, especially after 9/11, the U.S. is eager to strengthen its soft power by rebranding a “Welcome America” image. The State Department of the U.S is emphasizing civilian power and military power as the two essential pillars of U.S foreign policy as stated in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) in December, 2010. Cleary the U.S is recognizing the ascent of civilian power.

Being aware of the widely disseminated ‘China threat theory’, China has cleverly reacted to wariness within the global community with diplomatic terms aimed at creating a friendly image such as ‘the Responsible Great Power’ or ‘the Peaceful Rise’. Furthermore, China has borrowed the concept of the ‘comprehensive power’ that includes soft power, as well as hard power. It is very obvious that China is also trying hard to strengthen its soft power.

Japan understands that there exist clear boundaries for pursuing national interest only through military or hard power. With its Peace Constitution, Japan has built its soft power through its consistent Official Development Aid (ODA) for developing countries, fighting global warming and cooperating with other nations on nuclear disarmament.

Given its phenomenal economic growth, South Korea is considered an advanced nation, but its military power is far smaller than that of powerful countries like the U.S, China, and Japan. The mindset that South Korea could pursue and maximize her benefits through military power is unrealistic and impossible. Hence, South Korea needs to work on improving its soft power, rather than to rely heavily on hard power. However, South Korea’s soft power is underdeveloped and very much limited to cultural diplomacy. Especially in regard to sophisticated foreign diplomacy, in which most advanced countries give weight to, South Korea continues to lag.

2. The Characteristics of Soft Power and the Choice of South Korea

Soft power is the ability to achieve one’s goal without force, by molding the preferences of others. It is the power to persuade others into voluntarily performing an action which one wants them to carry out. However, when a nation realizes that the strengthening of soft power is critical to its national competitiveness, and therefore actively seeks to expand its soft power policy for its own exclusive benefits, it can often unintentionally weaken the position that it is trying to strengthen. In other words, if a nation pursues the exclusive benefits or control power over other nations, then others will not trust that nation’s soft power. It’s simply a worthless strategy. This paradox is one of the most important characteristics of soft power. Therefore, unlike hard power, legitimacy and universality are as essential as life in building soft power– no fish without water. Without legitimacy and universality, soft power consumes itself.

But the question is whether the soft power policy, which the U.S, China, and Japan try to enhance, really holds legitimacy and universality.
If you look at the U.S, the reason that she has focused on soft power is mainly to continue her powerful state of world hegemony in 21st century. Now the global civil society is skeptical of the soft power strategy that the U.S exhibits, observing it carefully, assuring that the ultimate goal of the soft power is for the global benefit. If the U.S exercises its soft power only for its national benefit, then America will eventually erode it away.

What about China? China wants to raise the appeal of its national image to the global community as ‘the Responsible Great Power’ or ‘the Peaceful Rise’, as opposed to the ‘China Threat’. But can we literally take their claim to be ‘the responsible’ and ‘the peaceful’ nation? What if the hidden intention of this is to gain hegemony in East Asia? We can ask the same question of Japan as well. Expansion of soft power policy in Japan may have the same underlying intention as that of China’s. If such is the case, then the soft power of China and Japan will rapidly disappear.

Meanwhile, South Korea is not on the same position as the U.S., Japan, or China. Throughout history, Korea has never walked the path of imperialism, and has never invaded another country. Korea rather has greatly suffered from invasions and wars under the weight of powerful countries, and it continues to suffer from the national division resulting from the Cold War.

The painful history of a victim can serve as a great resource to strengthen South Korea’s soft power. Korea is in a far better position to attain legitimacy and universality, the essential elements of soft power, compared to the U.S, Japan, and China.

Therefore, South Korea needs to actively present a vision and strategy of peace that global citizens empathize with. In this way her soft power will grow in legitimacy and universality. The likelihood of reunification will grow with the country’s increasing soft power, and this will help South Korea take a lead in building a peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

3. The Island of World Peace and the Jeju Naval Base

The South Korean government earmarked Jeju Island as ‘The Island of World Peace’ on January 27, 2005. The purpose of the designation was to establish stability and peace on the Korean peninsula, and ultimately contribute to world peace (according to the special law no.155/article no.1 of Jeju government). South Korea’s national government and Jeju’s local government can carry out projects as follow in order to assist Jeju Island in attaining its role and full capacity as of the Island of World Peace:

ⅰ) inviting an organization related to international peace and cooperation
ⅱ) establishing an institute of international cooperation
ⅲ) holding international conferences on international peace and cooperation
ⅳ) developing projects of exchange and cooperation between North and South Koreas
ⅴ) developing memorial projects to spread the concept of peace
ⅵ) implementing additional projects to support international peace and cooperation (the special law no.155/article no.2)

Jeju’s designation as an Island of World Peace has improved South Korea’s soft power by claiming legitimacy to the crown of peace.

Therefore, South Korea needs to actively legitimize Jeju Island as a place for promoting vision and strategy for world peace. Jeju has potential to establish peace and stability within the Korean peninsula as well. This way Korea can step up into the position of a country with strong soft power, and take the lead in reunifying the Koreas, and in building a peaceful Asia-Pacific community.

But ironically enough, the South Korean government is pushing for the construction of a massive naval base on Jeju, the Island of World Peace. The government is insisting that the naval base and the Island of World Peace are not incompatible, rationalizing the Roman military scholar, Vegetius’s maxim, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.( If you want peace then prepare for war.) ” However, this begs the questions: Would such a claim really garner empathy from other nations? Especially, can China agree to call Jeju an Island of World Peace, knowing that the new naval base in Jeju is primarily for projecting South Korea’s naval power against her?

The process of construction itself has destroyed the legitimacy of the new naval base. Cancellation of the ‘critically protected area’ designation, deceptive dual purpose (tourism/military) construction plans, illegal arrests, and countless cases of human rights violations all point towards this illegitimacy. Nevertheless, the government still imposes its power upon the villagers and peace activists in order to continue the construction. How can the government talk about visions and strategies for peace that global citizens can empathize with?

Contrary to its past embrace with a soft power policy (the designation of Island of World Peace), South Korea is now diverging from the path of becoming a strong, soft powered nation by enforcing the base’s construction under the heavy-handed scheme of hard power. This clearly shows the current state of Korean soft power policies, and how superficial and unrefined they are.

What is worse is that the naval base will provide the U.S. a platform to exercise its power over China, increasing the chances of ultimately making South Korea a victim of military clashes between the U.S and China. If this implication turns out true, then the naval base plan will not only erode South Korea’s soft power, but also will jeopardize national security.

4. The Role of Government and Suggestion of ‘Solidarity of the Islands for Peace in the Asia-Pacific’

For five years, Gangjeong villagers have non-violently resisted the construction of the naval base since their village (situated in southern Jeju) was chosen for the base on 2007. The tearful struggle of Gangjeong for peace and life has spread worldwide and raised concern and empathy especially within the Asia-Pacific region. Their sacrifice has enriched the soil for the Island of World Peace to bloom, an island of peace at risk of losing its credibility. In other words, Gangjeong’s resistance is providing a foundation for the soft power through which Korea can harvest reunification and build the peaceful community in the region.

The South Korean government has to listen to the voice of Gangjeong if the nation wants to increase its soft power. Firstly, the government needs to immediately withdraw the naval base project, and secondly, it needs to develop long-term policies designating Jeju Island as a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the Asia-Pacific region through an international treaty. When the island becomes the DMZ of the Asia-Pacific, then global citizens will easily recognize Jeju as the true Island of World Peace. What the villagers and the peace activists want is very clear. Instead of building the controversial military base, they urge the government to build facilities such as a peace park and an international peace center, a home for the global peace activists and NGOs.

Many islands in the Asia-Pacific region are being forced to sacrifice their homelands for the forward bases of powerful nations as they compete for regional hegemony. Including Jeju, Guam, (Saipan, the Spratly Islands), Okinawa, and Hawaii are well-known islands for the struggle against the naval base occupation. Now it’s time for the islands in the Asia-Pacific to come together, share their stories and experiences. Together we can build a soft-power alliance within the Asia-Pacific.

Therefore, I suggest the establishment of ‘Solidarity of the Islands for Peace in Asia Pacific’.

Translated by Han Che-soon

This newsletter is published by Peace Network, a peace movement organization located in Seoul, Korea. It is supported by The Beautiful Foundation. This distributed document is copyrighted but freely redistributable if you indicate the source of the material.

For more information about the Peace Network, please visit our website:

Good Friday Struggle on the Island of Peace

OpEdNews; By Gene Marx; April 8, 2012

Father Moon Cheong Hyun was severely injured on Good Friday

Father Moon Cheong Hyun was severely injured on Good Friday protesting the joint US/ROK construction project of what will likely become one of the largest naval bases of the American Empire, devastating an island that has been designated a Global Biosphere Reserve and known to many as The Island of World Peace. …

The internationally known and well respected critic of the Republic of Korea (ROK/South Korea), 71 year old, Catholic Priest, Father Moon Cheong Hyun has become one of the most important victims of the ongoing police brutality of the U.S. backed South Korean government. It was a miracle that Father Moon did not die from a recent fall after being pushed by ROK police. …

Father Moon’s protest against the naval base on Good Friday (4/6/12) was a non-violent religious ceremony. Gathered together were other Catholic priests and their followers, as well as local, regional and international peace activists. They performed the Mass, “Stations of the Cross”, a traditional Catholic ritual. This ceremony involves 14 “Stations” marking the last moments of Jesus’ life before his death. This ceremony was adapted so that the 14 Stations were performed during a procession around the razor-wired strewn wall surrounding the Gangjeong village naval base construction (destruction) site. At each Station Father Moon and the other Priests led followers in prayer and meditation related to Jesus’ death. The Mass was intended to mirror the struggle on Jeju Island for peace and against the winds of war.

During the final Station, #14, in a public area, one activist climbed down the huge concrete tetrapods [1] to the water to swim in protest toward the construction (demolition) site, the Gangjeong village’s sacred Gureombi. UNESCO and many other organizations have declared this preservation area to be of significant environmental and cultural importance. Gureombi’s status was overridden with a stroke of a pen by the influence of the ROK Navy. As the above mentioned activist attempted to enter the water, several police officers aggressively chased him, despite their being on the dangerous and slippery tetrapods. This frightened and angered many of the people attending the Mass, and a few people walked out onto the tetrapods to see what was happening below, including Father Moon. Many called for the police to be reasonable and to be careful that Father Moon could possibly fall. Not heeding the pleas of the people, one young policeman aggressively advanced on Father Moon despite the fact that they were both in an extremely dangerous area. Eye-witnesses said that the police officer swung around and pushed Father Moon. Both of them were put off balance, but only the young police officer was able to regain his balance. …

Read in full:

Jeju’s Spirit of Peace from April 3 Massacre to Gangjeong Resistance

From the newsletter published by Peace Network, a peace movement organization located in Seoul, Korea.

By Koh, Hee-bum / co-representative of Jeju-Forum C

Beginning on April 3, 1948, in the early part of the Cold War, Jeju island became a hell on earth. Over the next several years, a brutal massacre led by the Korean government took approximately 30,000 innocent lives, roughly 1/9 of the entire population of Jeju at the time. The severe conflict was primarily motivated by rival political groups, some advocating the separation from the Soviet- administered Northern part of the country, and some endorsing the re-unification of the entire Korean peninsula. The bloody suppression led by forces under Lee, Seung-man and supported by U.S. forces displayed an extreme animosity to communism. The then Chief of Police Affairs, Jo, Boung-ok’s comment well reflected the mindset of the government: “If it’s for the sake of Korea, we’d better pour gasoline all over Jeju and burn all the 300,000 Jeju citizens all at once.”

The government-led suppression involved setting fire to mountain villages, and indiscriminate killing of men and women, young and old, under the so-called ‘scorched earth’ campaign. The brutality against and the violation of human rights went beyond imagination. They would execute an old mother and her son-in-law after ordering them to have sex, and did terrible things after hanging up pregnant women.

This bloody suppression happened under the influence of the U.S. military in Korea as part of the U.S. geo-political strategies for Korea at the time. U.S. policy was seeking to contain communism during the Cold War, and the U.S. was not going to allow communism to gain control over the peninsula. The general election to establish an independent South Korean government was vetoed by only one province, Jeju.

Colloquially referred to as April 3, the tragedy lasted for six years and six months. The survivors also suffered greatly during the unrest. The bereaved families could not get employed because of guilt-by-association. Jeju citizens had to go out of their way to prove that they were not communists and to avoid persecution. April 3 became a taboo. College students who demanded a fact-finding investigation and writers who wrote about April 3 were all arrested. No one could speak of April 3.

After 50 years of Jeju’s persistent ‘memory struggle’, special legislation regarding April 3 was established through the cooperation of former South Korean President Kim, Dae-jung’s administration and some conscious personalities. Following this the government’s fact-finding investigation started and a national report on August 3 was made. With this foundation, the late president Roh, Moo-hyeon officially apologized to the victims and the bereaved families of the April 3 massacre. Jeju was designated as an Island of World Peace by the same government. The April 3 Peace Foundation was also established. It seemed that resolution of the April 3 horrors had arrived. Anxiously waiting Jeju citizens started to talk about peace and harmony, wishing Jeju to become the symbol of peace and human rights for the world.

The survivors and the bereaved did not demand any restitution because the government convinced them that the national budget did not allow for the payment of enormous sums. So they decided to settle with the unfamiliar ‘communal compensation’ through the April 3 Peace Foundation. However, Lee, Myung-bak’s administration rejected funding for the Foundation, violating the previous administrations’ April 3 resolutions. Extreme right-wingers insisted that former governments had distorted the fact-finding investigation, and filed motions to revoke president Roh’s apology and the investigation’s findings. Following these reversals, many people believe that April 3 has not ended.

60 years after April 3, the national government is once again forcefully imposing its will upon the Jeju people; this time in Gangjeong, Jeju. Under the banner of national security, the government is insisting on building a massive naval base on Jeju. The processes of choosing the construction site and the cancellation of ‘critically protected area’ have proven to be illegal. Almost every process of the construction process bears illegitimacy. For six years the villagers have non-violently resisted the base project to protect the environment, peace and their rights for living.

Traditionally Jeju is considered to be one of the most community-oriented regions in South Korea. However, the once-peaceful Gangjeong community is now completely destroyed, split into two groups of pro-base and anti-base advocates. The government has arrested the anti-base villagers and peace activists, and imposed on them heavy fines. Two hundred villagers have been convicted of spurious crimes and have received more than 200 million won(about $ 1,760) in fines. The villagers have hard time carrying on with normal daily life, and their mental suffering requires psychological treatment. For the first time after the April 3, mainland police troops have been sent down to Jeju in order to arrest the anti-base people.

The five opposition parties formed a congressional fact-finding commission and requested the government to conduct an overall re-examination of the Jeju naval base. Peace activists from mainland South Korea, France, the United States and other countries have come to support Gangjeong. Because the navy has forced the construction without following proper conditions, the national congress has withheld the 2012 base budget in an effort to halt construction. However, the construction is still on-going. The destruction of Gangjeong’s beautiful rocky coastlines hurts the villagers and other empathizers. In the anticipation that a new political leadership will cancel the base project, everyone seems anxious for the coming election.

Considering its geographical location, Jeju has been historically seen as a springboard for nearby nations seeking to expand their power. In the 13th century, Mongolia took over Jeju for 100 years in the attempt to use it as a forward base to conquer Japan. During the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, Japan built an airport on Jeju for launching air attacks against China. During the 2nd World War, Japan used Jeju as a fortress island. In order to solidify its hegemony over Korea (and over Northeast Asia), the U.S. implemented a communism containment policy that became one of the driving forces behind the April 3 massacre.

The navy’s justification for building the Jeju naval base is to secure the water-way for trading goods in the Sea of Jeju, but this is beyond the navy’s jurisdiction. South Korea’s maritime police have this responsibility. Furthermore, this base will be equipped to accommodate the most advanced U.S. naval combat systems, which could hinder peace in Northeast Asia.

In seeking to maintain a perceived balance of power in the region, the U.S. wants South Korea to be a part of their missile defense system, which specifically targets China. China wants to expand its influence within the Asia Pacific region. According to the U.S.-South Korea joint defense treaty, it is acceptable for the U.S. to use Jeju naval base for their military benefit. In this case, regardless of the local people’s will, the Jeju naval base will be in the middle of U.S.-Chinese tensions.

Despite their harsh environment, Jeju citizens have lived peacefully. Traditionally in Jeju there were no thieves, beggars, even front-gates, making Jeju an island of three-non-existences. For 1,000 years Jeju independently determined its own destiny with the establishment of Tamna Kingdom. Jeju is designated as a World Natural Heritage, a World Geological Park, and a Biosphere Reserve Zone by UNESCO, making the island the only triple-crowned place on earth.
We want Jeju, the treasure of the world, to remain as a symbol of world peace rather than a symbol of a new cold war. We want to declare that Jeju is the island of peace and human rights, not an island of war and death unforgettably ingrained in the history of April 3, the worst tragedy in the modern history of South Korea.
Before and since April 3, U.S. military interventions have had severely affected Korea, and the Jeju naval base issue is an extension of that same line. We do not want the naval base on Jeju, regardless of the matter whether the purpose of the naval base is to counter the expansionism of other countries. We do not want to be exposed to such dangers. We do not want foreign powers to decide our destiny. No one in the world can oppose our humble hopes, unless you are a warmonger.

This international conference we are having today is very meaningful for it provides us an opportunity to discuss what we need to do for peace and whom we need to constructively oppose. The naval base issue is critical to Jeju’s destiny. It’s up to all of us to make Jeju either the center of world peace or the center of another cold war. Now, Gangjeong is asking this of you.
“What have you and the world learned from the lessons of the April 3?”

This newsletter is published by Peace Network, a peace movement organization located in Seoul, Korea. Our Movement is dedicated to realizing an active peace by promoting anti-war, anti-nuclear, disarmament, and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Now, we’re currently working on The English Content Service for “the Denuclearization and Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula” spreading good quality articles related to our major issues by producing or translating the writings to international community. Through the service, approximately one to two English articles every month will be introduced in world wide. This service is supported by The Beautiful Foundation. This distributed document is copyrighted but freely redistributable if you indicate the source of the material.

For more information about the Peace Network, visit our website at:

Save Jeju, Save Peace – The Story in Jeju

Three VFP members denied entry to Jeju Island

We’ve just learned that the three Veterans For Peace members who arrived in Jeju Island, South Korea today were denied entry into the country.

Tarak Kauff, Elliott Adams, and Mike Hastie were met by South Korean authorities when they landed on Jeju Island via Shanghai, China. The South Korean authorities had a photo of each of them in their hands and told them they would not be allowed to enter Jeju Island.

They were instead taken and put on a plane back to Shanghai.

When they arrived in Shanghai they were told that they each had to pay $280 for the change in flight schedule. But Tarak told the Chinese that they had just been denied entry into South Korea because they were going to protest against a Navy base that was being aimed at China. When the Chinese authorities heard that they waived the $280 fee for each of them.

Tarak, Elliott and Mike are severely disappointed that they will not be able to stand with the people of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. South Korean members of VFP were planning on flying from Seoul to Jeju Island to meet with the American VFP members.

This case though illustrates just how much the South Korean puppet regime fears the growing international movement to support the fight against the Navy base on Jeju Island. We know where the South Korean authorities got the photos of the three American veterans. They got them from the US military who is pressuring the South Korean government to build this base that will be used to port U.S. warships that will be used in Obama’s military “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific region.

Just yesterday Angie Zelter (UK) and Benji Monnet (France) were deported from South Korea after being arrested for protesting against the Navy base.

Please help send a strong message to the South Korean government by calling and/or organizing a protest at the nearest South Korean embassy/consulate to your community.

Also call the South Korean embassy in Washington DC 202-939-5692 or 202-939-5600 to lodge a strong complaint about them denying the three VFP members entry to Jeju Island.

Can there be an question that we are now living in a corporate dominated police state?

Please remember too that the South Korean corporation Samsung is the lead contractor building the Navy base on Jeju. Boycott Samsung!

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Jeju, Island of Stone

This beautiful man – Professor Yang Yoon-mo is entering the depths of a hunger strike – 16 March his 40th day – driven by his love of nature and Jeju Island.

LATEST: Professor Yang has been released. We are trying to find out how he is and where he is.

See also below and our for more information on this situation.

This letter was handed in to NSA Menwith Hill on the same day:
Letter from CAAB to NSA Menwith Hill

Jeju naval base situation

Professor Yang’s Day 36 of hunger strike for peace

URGENT message from Nobel Peace Laureate organisation

March 14, 2012
From Colin Archer, Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau

Regretfully, the demolition of Gureombee rock has begun and is expected to last for next 150 days. In spite of the setback, villagers have not given up, and Professor Yang Yoon-mo is on day 36 of hunger strike, refusing even salt and water since the demolition of Gureombee began.

Today we are honored to report to you a message of support from a Nobel Peace Laureate organization, International Peace Bureau, for villagers and peace activists in Jeju Island. Do the following names inspire you?

1901 : Frédéric PASSY, France (IPB Council member)

1902 : Elie DUCOMMUN, Switzerland (first IPB Secretary-General)

1902 : Albert GOBAT, Switzerland (second IPB Secretary-General)

1905 : Bertha Von SUTTNER, Austria (IPB Vice-President)

1907 : Ernesto MONETA, Italy (IPB Council member)

1908 : Fredrik BAJER, DENMARK (first IPB President)

1910 : The IPB itself won the Nobel Peace Prize

1911 : Alfred FRIED, Austria, (IPB Council member)

1913 : Henri LAFONTAINE, Belgium (IPB President)

1927 : Ludwig QUIDDE, Germany (IPB Council member)

1959 : Philip NOEL-BAKER, UK (IPB Vice-President)

1962 : Linus PAULING, USA (IPB Vice-President)

1974 : Sean MacBRIDE, Ireland (IPB Chairman and President)

1982 : Alva MYRDAL, Sweden (IPB Vice-President)

Please see the message that Mr. Colin Archer, Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau, drafted and email one of your own to:

President Lee Myung Bak,

Governor Woo Keun Min,

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,

President & CEO, Samsung Corp.

Kim Kwan-Jin, Minister, Minister of National Defense,

(In each of the above replace ‘+’ with ‘@’)

Simone Chun, Ph.D.

Message from Nobel Peace Laureate organisation

Your Excellencies

Your government has the power to stop the planned destruction of Gureombee rock (planned for March 8, 2012), Jeju’s world-famous “Cloud-Rock” and a government-designated ecological preservation area. It also has the power to prevent the ROK Navy from constructing the planned naval base, a plan we regard as a grave error and one that reflects very badly on the image and reputation of the Republic of Korea.

The International Peace Bureau respectfully urges you to prevent the destruction of Gureombee, which is central to the cultural and economic well-being of Jeju’s people and which forms a historic part of Jeju’s natural marine and island ecosystems.

In addition, IPB urges your government to release immediately Professor Yang Yoon-mo, a 61-year old native of Jeju Island and former President of the Korean Film Association, who was unlawfully arrested and has been on a prison hunger strike since February 2nd. Professor Yang has been arrested and held simply for engaging in his constitutionally protected right to protest the unlawful construction of this naval base. A 61-year old man, his health is precarious, and indeed his life is in danger from prolonged deprivation of food. It is a matter of urgency that Professor Yang be released on humanitarian grounds.

I ask you to kindly forward this message to the relevant authorities.


Colin Archer, Secretary-General
International Peace Bureau
41 rue de Zurich
1201 Geneva

The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. We are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910), and over the years 13 of our officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our 320 member organisations in 70 countries, and individual members, form a global network which brings together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. IPB has United Nations Consultative Status since 1977 and is the Secretariat for the NGO Committee for Disarmament (Geneva). Our main programme centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development.

Urgent situation in Jeju

A message from Jeju Island

The timing now is very critical for our struggle.

Huge and huge international media coverage is truly needed.

The situation in Gangjeong village has recently been accelerating worse with President Lee Myung Bak’s announcement on the enforcement of nuclear base construction on Feb. 22 despite publicly reported critical base layout errors and tremendous 96% naval base budget cut for 2012. The prime minister followed by saying there will be no hesitation in repressing the opponents of the base.

Urgent situation in Jeju

However people’s effort to recover the Gureombi rocky coast has become more creative and it has been proved out that the navy doesn’t have any right to prohibit people to enter the Gureombi rock.

We have been entering the rock for the last two weeks. Even though going through fences and wires becomes more and more difficult due to the double layers and the patrols.

On Feb. 26 when the international participants of the Jeju International peace conference tried to enter into the Gureombi rocky coast through barbed wire, 12 Koreans and 10 internationals including were arrested, including Bruce Gagnon (Global Network against weapons in Space, his blog has a report about what happened: ) and Angie Zelter ( ), one of the Nobel Peace Prize nominee and renowned UK activist.

The next day, four villagers and one activist were violently arrested when the policemen blockaded people’s kayaks for sea protest.

We are reaching 250 arrests by now.

The details are long and terrible to explain all.

Today we heard that five police squadrons units, about 250 anti-riot policemen, from the mainland will soon come to Jeju for suppressing us.

Barge ship would enter Gangjeong for dredging tomorrow.

Many National Intelligence Service agents (Korean CIA) are patrolling around the construction fence where razor barbed wires are being layered more than double in and outside of fence.

All these signs are indicators of a coming great hardship in our struggle.

We need huge media coverage more than ever in this critical time.

For daily updates see:

Our Facebook groups:
No Naval Base on Jeju!
Our YouTube Channels

We are exhausted here. We need your help.

If you could send letters to your media contacts as soon as you can, it may help us to face this oppressive government until the next parliamentary elections. Without media outreach, our struggle would terribly suffer during the month of March.

Robert Redford supports the battle for Jeju Island

Read more here:

A Korean Professor’s Day 17 of Hunger Strike in the Prison for Peace, Jeju Island

A message from Jeju Island: February 24, 2012

Dear Esteemed and Peaceful Friends,

I hope that this message finds you well. It has been a while since my last update on the justice and peace movements based in Jeju Island, South Korea. It concerns the South Korean navy’s construction of a new base.

“The South Korean Navy is building a new base just 300-miles from the Chinese mainland which will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers fitted with the missile defence systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning. The 400-year old Gangjeong fishing and farming village on Jeju Island is being destroyed to build the base. Endangered soft-coral reefs offshore will also be destroyed when the seabed is dredged to make it possible to bring U.S. warships into the port.” (Press Release from International Peace Activists Support Locals in Challenge to Korean/US Base)

The South Korean government recently decided to treat the controversial naval base as a national security issue, which justifies the increased crackdown on peace activists.

Today’s call is a purely humanitarian appeal on behalf of Professor Yang Yoon-mo. It’s day 17 of his hunger strike in the prison, Jeju Island (Prison #220). Professor Yang had endured more than 70 days of hunger strike last year for peace and justice.

I am writing to you today because while Professor Yang is able to persevere the suffering and injustice that inflicted upon him, I can’t seem to be able to bear his affliction. Due to the increased government repression and decision to treat this issue as a national security, I, as a Korean citizen, am not able to do much except an individual and humanitarian appeal to you. Please do what you are able to for this noble and just cause!

“Missing Yang Yoon-mo”, Professor, Film Critic and Peace Activist

Day 17 of hunger strike in the prison, Jeju Island, Prison #220

Presentation: Save Jeju Island (3.2MB pdf)

This is Gang Jung Village

Anti-Base Campaigners Flock to World Heritage Jeju Island

Environment Newswire Service: February 24, 2012

The South Korean Navy is building a military base on Jeju Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland. The base will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with the missile defense systems that are key to Pentagon planning for this strategic location, surrounded by China, North Korea, Russia and Japan.

But the 400-year old Gangjeong fishing and farming village on Jeju Island is being destroyed to build the base. The base site has the cleanest water on the island and the world’s finest lava tube cave system. Endangered soft-coral reefs offshore will be destroyed when the seabed is dredged to get U.S. warships into the port.

Today, to demonstrate their opposition to the Gangjeong Naval Base, 150 peace groups from across Korea and around the world are gathering on Jeju. They are attending the 20th annual organizing conference of the nonprofit Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, which is headquartered in Brunswick, Maine.

Each year the Global Network holds its conference in a different part of the world. The theme for this year’s conference is “Jeju for Island of Peace.” …

Read in full:

Nuns blocking a road on Jeju Island – 31 people arrested

No naval base in Jeju Island

Interview with Matthew Hoey

An interview with Matthew Hoey, international security analyst, on Jeju Island and Gangjeong village resistance against the contruction of a South Korean and US naval base, in the perspective of future war and peace between China and USA.

Read the Gangjeong Village Resistance Newsletter

Game Changer: The By-Election for Seoul Mayor

An analysis of the October 26 by-election exit poll
The Asan Institute for Policy Studies

Woo Jung–Yeop
& Lisa Collins

Read this very interesting report here (1.2 MB pdf)

Good News from Jeju!

November 25, 2011

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

We have much to give thanks for today. The three remaining political prisoners—Gangjeong Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun, Gangjeong villager and cook for the peace camp Kim Jong-Hwan, and photographer/videographer and peace activist Kim Dong-Won–were all released from prison yesterday.

Thank you for your small acts of resistance and solidarity. In these times of uprising and revolution, we must cherish these small and large victories. It has been a good week. The blast at Gureombi has been temporarily stalled and the prisoners have been freed. We have much to be thankful for, including your friendship and belief that, together, we can indeed stop this naval base.

In solidarity,

The Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island

We stopped the blast… for now

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

Thank you so much for your efforts of solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong! We did it! We stopped the blast of Gureombi—at least for the time being.

We’ve been informed that the Jeju police have turned down the companies’ request for blasting Gureombi for three reasons: insufficient documents, safety concerns, and the go-ahead from Jeju Governor Woo.

We believe that the outpouring of international support directed to Governor Woo helped at least delay the blast, but we also remain vigilant knowing that the Navy may proceed without consulting Governor Woo, as it did on October 6th when it conducted a “test blast.”

Our best insurance against the Navy proceeding unilaterally is ongoing international pressure. Please take one minute and send the following sample email below to Governor Woo at and to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin at (Just cut and paste their email address and the sample letters below)

With gratitude,

The Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island (

Dear Governor Woo

Thank you for halting the blast of Gureombi, a government-designated absolute ecological preservation area. We are so relieved that the blast has been stalled, but we remain vigilant knowing the Navy has in the past unilaterally conducted a “test blast” as it did on October 6th.

We urge you to use your power to fully stop construction of the naval base in Gangjeong village and release the innocent civilians, including Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun.

You have the choice to leave behind a legacy of overseeing the destruction of a UNESCO preservation site and ancient Korean relics, or as a protector of democracy and peace on Jeju Island. Please uphold your promise to those who elected you and stop the blast and construction immediately. We don’t want the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” to be brutally destroyed.


Dear Minister Kim:

I urge you to stop the policy to construct the naval base in Gangjeong village and revoke the plan to blast Gureombi. Gangjeong residents have for five years been fighting day and night to save their coastline, livelihoods and ancient community. They are joined by the majority of Jeju Islanders who oppose the naval base on their pristine island, the government-designated island of peace.

It is clear that the plans for the so-called civilian/military harbor are intended for nuclear aircraft carriers, not for two 150,000-ton cruise ships. The Navy lied to the villagers and residents of Jeju Island.

Jeju was recently selected among the New Seven Wonders of Nature, which with its UNESCO triple-crowned status makes the island among the world’s most precious cultural and national treasures. The marine ecosystem of the Gureombi coastline is an absolute preservation area designated by the South Korean government to protect over ten endangered species. The spring water along Gangjeong’s coastline is connected to the stream, which provides up to 80% of the drinking water for the southern half of Jeju Island. Destroying Gureombi threatens the marine life and clean water, which farmers and villagers depend upon for their survival.

Please do what is right and preserve South Korea’s democracy and precious Jeju Island from being destroyed. True security comes from consent by the people based on peace and democracy, not from wielding force. We don’t want the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” to be brutally destroyed.


South Korea: destroying the lives of the Haenyo ‘sea women’
Rebecca Johnson
November 18, 2011

A naval base being built on Jeju Island threatens to destroy the livelihoods of the iconic women shellfish divers and raise levels of rape and prostitution in the surrounding villages. On her return from Jeju, Rebecca Johnson says international action is needed to stop the military construction.

The traditional fishing grounds of a famous community of South Korean women shellfish divers, known as Haenyo ( sea women) are scheduled to be blown up today by military explosives. The government has ordered this desecration at Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, in order to build a naval base to deploy US-made Aegis destroyers equipped with missile defence interceptors. If the base construction is not halted, the Haenyo will lose an area of outstanding natural beauty and a livelihood that has been passed down through generations of women, where mothers train their daughters to dive deeper and longer than ordinary people, gathering abalone and other shellfish for food and export. …

Read on:

Please take 5 minutes to be part of this global collective effort to stop this destructive blast

and send it round to as many contacts as possible.

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

On November 18th, the South Korean Navy will blast Gureombi, the smooth volcanic rock along the coastline of Gangjeong village where the local people have been fighting day and night almost for 5 years to stop the naval base. Please take 5 minutes to be part of this global collective effort to stop this destructive blast.

Jeju was recently selected among the New Seven Wonders of Nature, which with its UNESCO triple-crowned status makes the island among the world’s most precious cultural and national treasures. In addition, the marine ecosystem that lines Gureombi is an absolute preservation area designated by the South Korean government because of the many endangered species that inhabit Gureombi, including the red-clawed crab and soft coral. The spring water that bubbles up from Gureombi provides up to 80% of the drinking water for residents of Seogwipo City, the southern half of Jeju Island. The destruction of Gureombi threatens the surrounding marine life and the clean water that farmers and villagers depend upon for their survival.

Please take action now and send an email to Jeju Governor Woo urging him to halt the blast and construction of the naval base. The Jeju Island governor should protect Jeju’s pristine nature from being destroyed. Although Governor Woo has the authority to order the Navy to halt construction, he is overseeing the destruction of this pristine coastline.

Gangjeong villagers are pleading for our help to prevent the Gureombi blast at whatever cost. Your contacting the Governor now will not only encourage them but also help save their village and lives. As one villager says, “Gureombi is Gangjeong, Gangjeong is Gureombi.”

STOP the BLAST. Write to Gov. Woo:

Dear Governor Woo,

You have the power to stop the blast of Gureombi, a government-designated absolute ecological preservation area. You also have the power to order the Navy to stop construction of the naval base and release innocent citizens. Will you leave behind a legacy of overseeing the destruction of a UNESCO preserve site and ancient Korean relics, or will you be remembered as a protector of democracy and peace on Jeju Island? Uphold your promise to those who elected you and stop the blast and construction immediately. We don’t want the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’ to be brutally destroyed.


Environmental Justice Abroad

A Q&A with Wooksik Cheong of Peace Network

By Chelsea Hawkins
City on a Hill Press
Published November 3, 2011

Wooksik Cheong, a representative of the South Korean NGO Peace Network, recently visited UC Santa Cruz to discuss the disputed construction of a South Korean naval base on Jeju Island, a South Korean island off the southernmost tip of the mainland.

Jeju Island, much like Okinawa to Japan, maintains a unique dialect and culture separate from mainland Koreans, resulting in a sometimes volatile relationship between the island and the peninsula.

In 2007, the South Korean government decided to build a naval base in Gangjeong Province in Jeju Island and since then villagers and activists have banded together to protest the construction of the base.

Peace Network, established in 1999, focuses on promoting peace within the Korean peninsula through cooperation, delegation, discussion and the demilitarization of the area.

Literature professor Christine Hong sat in on the interview to assist with translation. Hong has visited Jeju Island and is familiar with the controversy surrounding the naval base construction.

City on a Hill Press: Can you explain the history behind this contested military base? Is this resistance movement part of a much bigger issue?

Wooksik Cheong: Jeju has a very indigenous culture; South Korean mainland persons cannot understand their dialect, so for a long time the people of Jeju have maintained an independent and special culture. However, [historically] the Japanese army used Jeju Island as a platform for an attack on China, so there was an airbase for the Japanese military. After that, the United States controlled Jeju to attack Japan, but the United States changed their mind and sought Okinawa … With the construction of this naval base, the message that the South Korean government and Navy is sending is very similar to the ways the South Korean government and United States used [Jeju Island] 60 years ago. In order to isolate Gangjeong Village from the mainland, the South Korean government, or ruling party or conservative media, has labeled the residents and volunteers as pro-North Korean or Kim Jong-Il puppets.

Christine Hong: But the people who have been protesting have been jailed and they’ve been beaten. As Wooksik was saying, recently even, the mainland government sent over a thousand riot police to quell the protest, so it’s very reminiscent of the past.

WC: The central government does not believe in the local police, so they send riot police to directly control the operation.

CH: When I was in Gangjeong, there were police at every single entrance to the village.

CHP: The Defense Ministry has expressed determination to finish the military base, and has characterized protesters as more of a nuisance, spreading false information. How do you respond to that?

WC: South Korea is a democratic country and the opinions on the naval base are from a variety of spectrums. However, the South Korean government and media are hesitant to [have a] dialogue with villagers. The biggest frustration of Gangjeong villagers is, ‘Why has the government not talked to me about this?’ They’ve just talked to the press and the [police] force. But the idea is this is an issue of … national security … [and] if you express a different opinion, you’re a pro-North Korean, you’re a Kim Jong-Il puppet. Is this a democratic country, then? It’s very shameful. The first thing the villagers wanted [to say] is, “Let’s talk: Why does the government want to build a Jeju naval base?” … If even one more person supported the Jeju Naval base, we could quit the protest.

CH: The government claims that this decision came about democratically, but actually the standard proceedings for any kind of vote within the village were not observed. And I think that it’s very revealing the head of the village is in prison right now. What the government keeps saying is the people protesting the construction of the naval base are obstructing business, so the government is revealing what its notion of democracy is — it’s placing the obstruction of business … above the rights of citizens to determine what they want in the area they live [in], and it has made a mockery of any democratic process.

CHP: Can you tell me a little about “Pacific Freeze”? How do military spending, armed conflicts, and continued military expansion relate to the health and well-being of the environment?

WC: I think the biggest enemy to humanity is climate change. … Unfortunately, the U.S. military budget is up to about 50 percent in the world military expenditure. Think about that: Why does the United States spend so much on the military? Do American people feel safe? I don’t think so. American people are afraid of many kinds of threats. In order for the United States to play a leading role in dealing with global problems, I think they need to [funnel] their military sources into other things, for example the green economy. … [Furthermore,] why is the South Korean government and Navy destroying this natural and beautiful environment? It’s a gift from god, from the heavens. A few years ago, the South Korean government pointed out Gangjeong Province as an absolute preservation area. In order to build the naval base, the South Korean government cancelled the absolute preservation. That means the South Korea government is talkin g about green economy and green growth. However, the South Korea government is destroying the environment for a risky naval base.

CH: They have lied and said they have done environmental impact surveys, but they have not done any significant environmental impact surveys. And they say their spokesperson in the United States, one of the cultural ministers, Nam Jin Soo, said it would have minimum impact on the environment. The fact of the matter is, one, I’ve called him on the phone and … he’s never been to Gangjeong province. He hasn’t spoken to anyone and … the thing that’s interesting, too, is even when you talk to the women in the neighboring village, they say that the ocean is no one’s to own. It’s clear they are destroying the environment. And when you see the way the protesters were living on the environment, it’s unlike any other kind of sustained reoccupation … and the way that they were living was so in tune with the land …There’s something really profound about the way the protesters were coexisting with the land.

CHP: Looking forward, the latter half of South Korean history is hugely influenced by U.S. involvement — do you foresee a way for South Korea to effectively separate itself from the U.S. military?

WC: For a long time, especially since the Korean War, South Korea has been under the U.S. security umbrella. There are different ways of thinking on this relationship. For example, the past South Korean government hoped that South Korea could be more independent and self-reliant. … The current government thinks the … way to keep security and peace is to strengthen the alliance with the United States — that’s the fundamental thinking of the South Korean government. … Some people want to keep the alliance [with the U.S.], some people think we don’t need the alliance anymore and [the U.S.] cause many problems and should withdraw. Many people think, “Why are we maintaining the alliance? We need to improve our relations with the North.”

CHP: Do you hope to see a unified Korea? Is that end goal of Peace Network’s work?

WC: What is important is not reunification itself but how to reunify. Firstly, we put more value on peace rather than reunification. I think reunification should be realized step by step, gradually through cooperation. However, the South Korean government wants to unify with North Korea through absorption, but that’s not the right way. I think peace is the best way to realize reunification and peace should be the goal of reunification.

CH: Many people describe peace in military terms and they say peace in Korea depends upon a strong U.S. military presence and a strong South Korean military. [To WC:] What is Peace Network’s understanding of peace?

WC: Peace should be based on demilitarization. … Real peace can be realized … through dialogue, cooperation, trust building [and] respecting each other. For a long time, South Korea tried to enhance its security by enhancing its military power or strengthening its alliance with the United States, [but] many South Koreans don’t feel safe. Even though South Korea spends about 10 times more than North Korea in its military budget and makes pains to align with the U.S. …many people are asking, why are we not secure? Why are we not stable?

Published by Peace Network: Visit our website

US Seeks to Establish Naval Base on Jeju Island in Spite of Protests

Toward Freedom
By John Lasker
October 18, 2011

On beautiful Jeju Island, south of the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Navy is building a base that will soon harbor some of the world’s most advanced weapons.

But the mystery is: who inspired the base to be built on this island of pristine waters and stunning volcanic peaks in the first place?

Peace activist Bruce Gagnon says all one needs to do is call the South Korean embassy in Washington and ask.

“We have had four of our people tell us when they called the (South Korean) embassy to protest the naval base, they were told, ‘Don’t call us, call your own government,’” said Gagnon. “The US is forcing South Korea to build this base so to harbor Aegis destroyers. The base is a key part of Obama’s ‘Forward Base’ strategy for missile defense. This is a very provocative act.”

Gagnon is the director Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, which is referred to as the “Global Network” amongst its 150 affiliates across the planet. The Global Network’s mission is to raise awareness about US’s emerging missile defense “arsenal” – an arsenal they believe is a “Trojan Horse” the US is secretly and quietly rolling into the global courtyard.

Missile-defense technology, such as the Aegis-class destroyer that South Korea said will be stationed on Jeju Island, is “dual use” technology, claims the Global Network. An Aegis-class destroyer is equipped with the Aegis system of high-powered radar and missiles that can shoot-down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other warheads. But this same Aegis technology, created mainly by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, has offensive capabilities as well, such as the ability to shoot down satellite constellations the world has become so dependent on.

The Global Network’s dual-use theory is backed by plenty of incriminating evidence. The Pentagon has spent over $100 billion researching missile defense technology that has never proven itself in real combat. This $100 billion technology can also be deceived by balloon decoys that look like warheads, a fatal flaw the Pentagon has desperately tried to keep secret. While billions were being pumped into so-called missile defense during the past three decades, many high-ranking officers from the US military and US Congressmen publicly stated the nation that controls space, controls earth. …

Read on:

Problems of Constructing a Naval Base on Jeju Island and the Historical Significance of the Struggle Against It

October 3, 2011

Jeju Island has long been reputed for its exceptional beauty and natural heritage, having been designated in all three categories of UNESCO Natural Science – a Biosphere Reserve in 2002, a World Heritage Site in 2007, a Global Geological Park in 2010 – and recently paving the way towards being renowned as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World under the compassionate support of many. At the same time, it is a place of resentment and much agony, being home to the April 3rd Massacre, where tens of thousands of innocent locals were indiscriminately killed by the abuse of government power during the transitional period of the Cold War and the Korean War following liberation from Japanese colonization.

Despite the facts above, the natural environment and the local communities of Jeju Island are currently being destroyed at the risk of repeating the resentment and agony of the April 3rd Massacre due to the unlawful construction of a naval base by the Government. Lives and peace are at stake.

Accordingly, this article seeks to look into depth and in detail the concerns and problems entailed by this construction of a naval base on Jeju Island and consequently contend the historical value of the current resistance movement against its enforcement…. Continue reading: (

A letter from imprisoned village representative Kang Dongkyun to Noam Chomsky

Dear Mr. Noam Chomsky!

How are you?

I am Kang Dongkyun, the Gangjeong village representative, from Jeju Island where the people have been suffering and fighting for 4 years and 4 months against an unjust construction of a naval base.

The decision making process was unjust because the vast majority of the villagers opposed the construction of a naval base. And geographically Gangjeong village is not an appropriate location for a naval base. Despite these problems, the South Korean government and the Ministry of Defence have been pushing forward the project while ignoring its people’s will, which created all sorts of conflicts not only within the community but in the whole island. Neighbors are turning their backs on one another, and human relations used to be close but now it’s all broken.

At this point, Jeju Island is trying hard to be selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, based on the 3 titles that Jeju Volcanic Island and Gangjeong village have won from the UNESCO; UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO World Natural Heritage, and UNESCO Global Geoparks.

Our Gangjeong village is proud to meet the qualifications of the 3 UNESCO titles. I think that it is meaningless for the Jeju Island to try to be entitled as one of the new 7 wonders of nature if a naval base comes to Gangjeong village.

Jeju Island has two paths to take. One is a militarised Jeju Island that will increase tensions in the region. The other is a peaceful island where the breath-taking beauty of nature is well-preserved so all the peace-loving people from the world come to appreciate the environment.

Which one should be the right choice in terms of national interests and South Korea’s status in the world community?

Dear Mr. Noam Chomsky!

I have read your writings and support messages. Thank you for helping us. I can’t agree with you more when you say that a rule by force and violence will fall by the same force. The history proves that.

Dear Mr. Noam Chomsky!

We are trying everything we can to keep this small village on Jeju Island. We know and firmly believe that keeping the life and peace of the village ensures the peace on the island, in the country and the whole world.

We will never be shaken or surrender to any unjust state power. Peace maintained by force will be fallen by another big force.

Dear Mr. Noam Chomsky!

What we want is a small peace where people live their lives by helping and taking care of each other. We wish to make a true world where beautiful stories can be written by the people.

Please help us out and please let us keep the hope.

Thank you very much.

Sep 6, 2011

On behalf of the Gangjeong villagers

Kang Dongkyun

Message from Sung-Hee Choi

Please write letters to seven in the prison, who were restrained for the struggle against the Jeju naval base construction:

Four people who were arrested either on Sept. 1 or 2 have been transferred to the Jeju Prison on Sept. 9, 2011.

They are:

Mr. Kim Jong-Il (53, leader of field management team, a former secretary of the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea)

Mr. Hong Ki-Ryong (47, co-executive chairman of the Pan-Island Committee for Prevention of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island)

Mr. Go Yu-Gi (42, co-executive chairman of the Pan-Island Committee for Prevention of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island)

Ms. Kim Mi-Ryang (38, woman, villager)

Currently, seven people including three who were arrested on Aug. 24, for their resistance against the illegal and forceful Jeju naval base construction have been imprisoned since then.

Please write encouragement letters for the seven.

You can send them letters as the below. The address is same except for the prisoner number in (No. * ):

Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun( No. 621)
161 Jeju prison
Ora-2 dong, Jeju city
Jeju Special Self-Governing Island
South Korea

Mr. Kim Jong-Hwan (No. 315)
Mr. Kim Dong-Won (No. 156)
Mr. Kim Jong-Il (No. 605)
Mr. Hong Ki-Ryong (No. 253)
Mr. Go Yu-Gi (No. 292)
Ms. Kim Mi-Ryang (No. 15)

The Truth behind the Vote that brought a Military Base to Paradise

By Gangjeong Village Mayor Kang Dong-Kyung

While on the outside it is believed that the decision to approve the Jeju naval base construction was supported by residents, in reality, that is not the case. The truth is that over 90 percent of Gangjeong residents oppose the base, believe the current naval base construction was invalid from the beginning, and have been mobilizing against it since four years ago to the present day. At the general meeting it was agreed that we should have a referendum on the naval base ten days later. So, starting the next day, the referendum was announced through regular broadcasts on the village speakers.

People claim that the deciding factor for the approval of the naval base was a Gangjeong special general assembly meeting meeting held on April 26, 2007, but that general assembly was illegally held, and violated thge village customary laws. On that day only 87 people participated (out of over 1,900 villagers), and everything was passed, not by votes, by by applause. …

Read on:

Save Jeju Island

Music and images from the “no base” resistance

In 2006, Jeju Island was designated an Island of Peace for the purpose of consoling the deep sorrow of the April 3rd [1948] Massacre. The Jungdeok coast was appointed as a Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Site, and Global Geological Park by UNESCO. It is an Absolute Preservation Area, which is now being threatened by the construction of a naval base that will undermine security in region.

Gangjeong Village Raided – Many Arrests

Gandjeong arrests

The latest news is that this morning at 4:00 am the South Korean police and military staged a massive raid of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. Sirens blared and villagers ran to the two construction gates to set up non-violent blockades. Many college students have come to join the villagers. By 9:00 am some number of Catholic Priests and 20 villagers and supporters have been arrested in Gangjeong village. More are likely to be taken to jail before this is all over.

It appears this raid was timed to try to “preempt” the major protest festival planned in the village this weekend where more than 1,000 are supposed to come including many from the mainland. The right-wing government is obviously going after as many of the leadership as possible in order to create organizational confusion and a sense of despair. But in times like this new leadership will emerge to keep things going.

Writing from South Korea Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi, recently released after three months in prison for holding a banner, said, “We need international solidarity. Please protest against the South Korean authorities with letters, press interviews and others.”

Follow breaking news on Twitter #Gangjung and Facebook

Please contact the South Korean embassy in London directly:

60 Buckingham Gate
Tel: 020 7227 5500
Fax: 020 7227 5503

Help spread the word.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502

Urgent media release

2 September 2011
For immediate release
From the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – CAAB

Crack down on protestors struggling to save the island of Jeju – South Korea – democracy under attack

Last night (1 September 2011 – UK time) the riot police began to arrest the protesters. A local court had banned any peaceful protest, five buses of riot police arrived and blocked off the small village of Gangeong where a Naval base is beginning construction – under pressure from the US military who want to use the base as part of the US Missile Defense system. A rally was planned for Saturday when hundreds of protestors were to gather from the mainland of South Korea.

Villagers, the church and a democratic vote all oppose the building of a naval base on Jeju Island known as the “ island of Peace” and destined to be a World Heritage site. The once peaceful town with a population of 1,900 has been split in two since it was hastily decided to propose hosting the naval base in an ad-hoc meeting in April 2007. The elected Mayor is in prison after he objected to the use of a 250 ton crane by the construction company building the Naval base.

Father Lee Kang-suh, director of the Catholic Urban Poor Pastoral Committee of Seoul archdiocese and other protestors from the mainland have been staging a sit-in rally without permission in front of the main gate of the site. “One little action is worth more than 1,000 words,” he said. “We have the freedom of conscience and the right to seek justice when law violates the basic human rights guaranteed under the Constitution.”

Lindis Percy (Joint Coordinator of CAAB) said: “Why should we care about this? We should care because we live in an interconnected world. This is all our issue and what is happening on the other side of the world right now makes the world a far more dangerous place”.

Notes for the editors:

See for background story and up to date information

The US base at Menwith Hill and RAF Fylingdales play important roles in the US Missile Defense system

Contact: Lindis Percy – Joint Coordinator with Melanie Ndzinga – CAAB 01423 884076 mobile: 07949897904

Police raid ousts naval base protesters

Use of force brings back memories of April 3 Uprising on Jeju-do

The Hankyoreh
By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju Correspondent

At dawn on Sept. 2, around 1,000 police officers were suddenly deployed at Gangjeong Village in the municipality of Seogwipo on Jeju-do, where a sit-in demonstration against the construction of a naval base is under way.

Police took away 35 activists and villagers and drove out other residents that were occupying the construction site, while the Navy put up a fence at the entrance to the site and completed preparations to allow construction to resume. On the afternoon of the same day, civil servants from Seogwipo demolished the tents and banners that had been put up around the site.

Ko Gwon-il, head of the village’s committee to oppose the base, resisted by climbing a five- to six-meter watchtower that had been installed at a nearby road junction and tying himself up in chains. Local residents and activists also fought physically to resist police. Residents protested that police from the mainland had used violence against them once again after the Uprising of April 3, 1948, while opposition parties and civic groups criticized for government for using physical force to push the construction of the base.

“To the people of Jeju-do, who remember the pain of the April 3 Uprising, the government’s decision to use force is a proclamation of battle,” said Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu at an expanded executive meeting. “The government must stop ignoring the National Assembly and come up with a peaceful solution.”

Democratic Labor Party Chairwoman Lee Chung-hee arrived at Gangjeong Village in the morning and joined the ranks of the demonstrators. …

Read on:

On August 24 when mayor Kang was arrested…

Oh dear…what a desperate struggle – the video is in Korean…but words really aren’t needed – the Mayor was arrested.

Villagers and their supporters oppose the non-democratic state seizure and planned destruction of private farmland and a pristine, biodiverse coastline.


Sun Hee Choi

Photo © MacGregor Eddy

Sung-Hee Choi was released from 5 months in custody.

Please read her powerful and moving testimony to the presiding Judge
at her trail on 17 August 2011.

CAAB sends love and many congratulations to Sung-Hee Choi
for her principled stance to SAVE THE ISLAND OF JEJU – the struggle continues.

President Lee Myung-bak: Please Save Jeju Island

Sign the petition

Things appear to be getting very bad on Jeju: A large police force is determined to stop the protest but intention of the villagers is to go ahead regardless.

Naval Base Tears Apart Korean Village

By Christine Ahn
August 19, 2011

“The land and sea isn’t something you bought,” explained Kang Ae-Shim. “Why are you selling something that was there long before you were born?”

Kang Ae Shim is a haenyo, one of the legendary Korean women sea divers from Jeju Island who can hold their breath for up to two minutes while foraging the ocean floor for seafood. But today Kang and others are fighting to save their island from the pending construction of a South Korean naval base in Gangjeong village, which threatens to tear apart the age-old sisterhood of the haenyo and destroy the pristine ecology of Jeju’s shores. The government and construction contractors are attempting to stamp out the outcry by arresting, beating, fining, and threatening villagers and activists.

In April, renowned South Korean film critic Yang Yoon Mo was arrested for erecting and living in a tent on the coast for years to impede construction. Yang subsequently went on hunger strike for 71 days, 57 of which were spent in prison. In May, Choi Sung-hee, an artist and peace activist living with the villagers, was arrested for demonstrating and standing in the way of cement trucks to prevent them from pouring concrete over lava rock along the coastline. In June, Gangjeong village chief Kang Dong-kyun and peace activist Song Kang-ho confronted a large Samsung construction vessel in a small tugboat. When Song attempted to board the vessel, he was beaten and thrown back into the tugboat. …

Read more:

Beautiful Jeju Island

Jeju Naval Base and National Interests of Korea
By Wooksik Cheong (Representative of Peace Network)
August 4, 2011

I have stayed in Gangjeong village which is suffering from the Jeju naval base construction. It is so obvious in Gangjeong village how unreasonable the naval base construction is in the place where Gurumbee rocks spans 1 km with abundant and fertile farmland, where Gangjeong stream of first-class water runs, and where various endangered animal species inhabit. It is so clear in Gangjeong village how the construction tore up the village community which was once beautiful and peaceful and how the villagers are protesting against the construction at the risk of their lives. It is certain in Gangjeong village that the remarks from the conservatives like “Kim Jung-il’s puppet” and “advocates for the North” are groundless.

However, the South Korean government and the navy authorities are still obstinate. Encompassing the village with hundreds of policemen, they are still seeking for the chance to exert the governmental power. They are trying to weaken the anti-base construction movement by arresting villagers and activists and by abusing accusations and claim for the damages.

By stigmatizing the opposition group as the rebellious, they are trying to isolate the Gangeong village from South Korea. In other words, the government is attempting another terror to the Jeju residents who have traumatic memories of earlier massacres. The protection of lives and properties of their citizen are what the government and the military authorities exist for. Therefore, when the government and military authorities trample on their citizens’ right under the name of “national interests” the questions regarding the reasons for their existence are raised. …

Read on:

CNN Interviews Gloria Steinem about Jeju Island

Jeju Island: Why Should You Care?


The South Korean Government is constructing a naval base on Jeju Island. Officially named an “Island of Peace” by the late President Roh Moo Hyun, Jeju was the site of a 1948 massacre in which more than 30,000 civilians were estimated to have been slaughtered during a democratic uprising.

Located strategically in the Korea Strait, the island’s potential to become a military target in the event of an armed conflict in this tense region would increase exponentially with the addition of a naval base. The threat this poses to the men, women and children of Jeju Island is unconscionable, and it can be avoided through halting the base construction.

Since plans for the naval base were announced five years ago, 95% of Jeju residents have voted against the base and used every possible democratic means to block its construction. Yet their protests have fallen on mostly deaf ears.

Ther’s lots happening there – and possibly there will be a big crack down by the police and authorities soon…


Jeju: From peace island to war island

Asia Times Online
Speaking Freely
By John Eperjesi
August 10, 2011

Korean-American writer Paul Yoon’s 2009 short story collection Once the Shore (Sarabande), which won the prize for fiction at the 13th Asian American Literary Awards, is set on a fictionalized version of Jeju Island and deals with the devastating impact of militarism, colonialism, and the cold war on a rugged island culture.

In Once the Shore, Yoon gives us Oceania from below, an island multitude composed of service workers, farmers, divers, fishermen, war orphans, and various others who form strange friendships across barriers of age, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. The lead story is set in the present and opens with a sixty-something American woman at a high-end tourist resort gazing out over the ocean while thinking about her deceased husband, a Korean War veteran who she comes to realize probably cheated on her and lied about it when he returned from the war.

She befriends a young Korean waiter who often stands behind her listening, “as if it weren’t her voice at all, but one that originated from the sea.” During the woman’s visit, the waiter’s brother, a fisherman, is killed when an American submarine on training exercises surfaces and sinks his fishing boat.

Throughout the story, the waiter fixates on the terror of drowning. Cold War past and present is fused in the widow’s and waiter’s discrepant memories of loved ones, their awkward, distracted friendship grounded in the ability to partially identify with the other’s loss, a process of identification that appears as each gazes silently out over the ocean, beneath the glimmering surface of which submarines cruise like whales on a hunt. Yoon has commented that the initial idea for this story came from the sinking of the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing boat, by the USS Greenville, an American nuclear-powered submarine, off the coast of Oahu in 2001.

The relevance of Yoon’s stories to the real Jeju Island has recently intensified as concrete has begun to pour on coral reefs to make way for an “eco-friendly” military base for South Korea’s expanding blue water navy, at the head of which is the 18,000 ton assault ship symbolically named the Dokdo, which makes it almost as big as the island in the East Sea it is named after.

Many believe that the base may also provide “lily pad” support for the United States Navy. Leading local activists in the anti-base movement have been arrested while peace activists from all over the world have begun to lend their support …

Read on:

Read the book:

Controversy over Jeju naval base mounts

The Korean Herald
August 9, 2011

Opponents call for halt to plan; ministry vows to push for its construction

Controversy over the ongoing project to build a strategic naval base on Jeju Island is escalating as opponents vehemently call for its suspension while the Defense Ministry vows to push ahead with its construction.

Since Gangjeong Village in Seogwipo of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province was designated as the site of the 977.6 billion won ($914.4 million) project in June 2007, controversy has persisted with both sides refusing to budge. …

Critics argue that South Korea could allow its key ally, the U.S., to use the base, albeit temporarily, causing unnecessary military tensions between the U.S. and China. Some even speculate that the U.S could use it for another missile defense base capable of intercepting China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. …

Read on:

The Arms Race Intrudes on Paradise

New York Times
The opinion Pages
By Gloria Steinem
August 6, 2011

THERE are some actions for which those of us alive today will be judged in centuries to come. The only question will be: What did we know and when did we know it?

I think one judgment-worthy action may be what you and I do about the militarization of Jeju Island, South Korea, in service of the arms race.

Jeju isn’t called the most beautiful place on earth for nothing. Ancient volcanoes have become snow-covered peaks with pure mountain streams running down to volcanic beaches and reefs of soft coral. In between are green hills covered with wildflowers, mandarin orange groves, nutmeg forests, tea plantations and rare orchids growing wild; all existing at peace with farms, resorts and small cities. Unesco, the United Nation’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, has designated Jeju Island a world natural heritage site.

Now, a naval base is about to destroy a crucial stretch of the coast of Jeju, and will do this to dock and service destroyers with sophisticated ballistic missile defense systems and space war applications. China and South Korea have positive relations at the moment. But this naval base is not only an environmental disaster on an island less than two-thirds the size of Rhode Island, it may be a globally dangerous provocation besides.

Residents of Gangjeong, the village that is to be home to this base, have been living in tents along the endangered coastline, trying to stave off the dredging and bulldozing. In a vote several years ago at a village meeting, residents overwhelming opposed the base. …

Read on:

Unwanted Missiles for a Korean Island

New York Times
The opinion Pages

Gangjeong, a small fishing and farming village on Jeju Island 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula, is a pristine Unesco-designated ecological reserve where elderly Korean women sea divers, haenyo, still forage for seafood. It is also the site of a fierce resistance movement by villagers who oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on the island that will become part of the U.S. missile defense system to contain China.

South Korea’s president, Lee Myungbak, says the base is needed to protect Seoul from an attack from Pyongyang. The problem with that assertion is that the Aegis destroyers that Lee pledged to deploy at the base aren’t designed to protect South Korea from North Korean Taepodong ballistic missiles (TBM).

In a 1999 report to the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon verified that the Aegis system “could not defend the northern two-thirds of South Korea against the low flying short range TBMs.”

Thus, instead of protecting South Koreans, the militarization of Jeju Island will introduce new security threats to the country by fueling an arms race in an increasingly tense region of unresolved conflicts. …

Read on:

Stop the Construction of Naval Base at Gangjeong in Jeju Island

Korean statement on Jeju
Park Jung Eun
Director, Team of Peace and International Team, PSPD
PSPD(People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy)

Jeju, the Island of Peace appointed by the government, is experiencing harsh conflicts because the Ministry of Defence and the Navy of South Korea are enforcing the construction of a naval base at Gangjeong in Jeju despite the strong opposition from people and residents. The naval base construction at Gangjeong is being pushed on the name of “national project” in the absence of justification while “national violence” is frequently employed for destroying the community.

Since the Navy announced the naval base construction, Gangjeong community dwellers never agreed with it just like previous communities which were selected as a base. Such opposition against reclaiming seashore for naval base is not surprising at all when it comes to such awesome seashore and surroundings of Gangjeong. The Ministry of Defence’s argument is neither realistic nor convincing, which the naval base at Gangjeong makes the Navy advance to in oceans, secure sea routes, and even engage in a conflict with the military forces. It rather brings grave concerns that it would have South Korea be caught in hegemony races between the US and China or even military conflicts in the Northeast Asia.

The Jeju provincial government and the Navy have arbitrarily enforced the naval base construction even exerting illegal, expedient means since they failed to get people’s consent. The people’s opinions have been neglected and distorted. An Environmental Effects Evaluation never be appropriately carried out, which is legally required. The appointment of Gangjeong to the Absolute Preservation Zone came to be illegally lifted. Construction companies threatened the Gangjeong people with physical violences, and the police hauled the Gangjeong people, not those who used violence, to the police station and the accusations and charges amounted several dozens.

Lately, the five opposition parties jointly formed an investigation team and asked to hold the construction during the investigation. However, the Navy did not be bothered at all but has pushed the construction harder. Accordingly, the police will force eviction of facilities which display pictures of the beautiful scenery of Gangjeong and solidarity messages, and will haul those people soon or later. Meanwhile a film critic Mr. Yang Yoonmo has been going for hunger strike more than 50 days for stopping of the naval base construction, and his life is at stake.

Such situation presents that not just Gangjeong people and Jeju citizens are accountable for blocking of the naval base construction. We, the civil society, consider the naval construction is not such a urgent, fervent project that costs destruction of environment. Rather, the construction would not contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. We also strongly believe that nothing is important than the right to peace, and arguments for national security, which neglect community’s security and safety and opinions of citizens, should not be allowed.

We, the civil society, will initiate campaigns for stopping the naval base construction and strengthening solidarity with Gangjeong people. The campaigns are as below;

  • Publicizing the iniquities of the construction of Gangjeong naval base for immediate stop of the construction,
  • Extending the solidarity with peace, human rights and environment activists and international organizations,
  • Taking legal actions raising procedural problems of the construction while supporting Gangjeong people with legal services, who have been oppressed and accused,
  • Urging parliamentarians to take active investigations and adopt a policy of the withdrawal of the construction of naval base as a policy of the own party, and
  • Gather ideas and alternatives from various people to resolve conflicts on the naval base construction, to present itself as a “Island of Peace”.

Sung-Hee Choi’s new trial date is June 22

Sung-Hee will have the next stage of her trial June 22. She is fasting again and looks thin.
The South Korea (ROK) is building a Naval base destroying the lovely coral reefs at Gangjeong village. There is US pressure and US money.
Professor Yang of Jeju Island, ROK (South Korea) has been released on June 1 on probation. He had been on a hunger strike for more than 60 days and is in the hospital.
Sung-Hee Choi is still in jail. She was arrested for holding a banner saying “not one flower, not one stone”.
See blog by Bruce K Gagnon for more information.
Call the ROK embassy or consulate in your country.

By McGregor Eddy (June 11, 2011)

See Facebook: Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island

Click to open slide show: Save Jeju Island from Naval base

Great news! Yang Sprung from Jail by Growing Pressure on South Korean Government

Yang sprung from jail

A weak and thin Yang Yoon-Mo (right) released from jail after 60 day hunger strike

It’s not the end of the struggle by any means;

We are asking people to take action by writing letter of support to:

Choi Sung-Hee, No. 36. Jeju prison, 161 Ora-2-dong, Jeju City, S. Korea
(this is the way the prison wants it addressed.)

And/or – write a letter to the South Korean (ROK) embassy in London…

60 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6A J,
tel. 020 7227 5500, fax 020 7227 5503

… to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island.

Special Fund Appeal to Send Global Network Board Member to Jeju Island

Jeju Island Base

The Global Network has decided to send one of its board members to Jeju Island, South Korea in order to bring messages of solidarity from our international membership to the struggling people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (WILPF) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island.

The South Korean government is building a Navy base there, destroying endangered soft coral reefs and a shoreline of remarkable beauty in this fishing and farming village.

Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi is in jail on Jeju and is now on her 15th day of a hunger strike. She was arrested for holding a banner saying “Not one flower, Not one stone” at a Gangjeong village protest. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is also in jail since blocking a truck with his body on April 6. He is now on his 59th day of hunger striking and vows to die unless the Navy base construction is halted. The naval base will be used for porting U.S. Aegis destroyers that carry so called “missile defense” interceptor missiles.

MacGregor would be in Jeju Island during the Global Network’s upcoming 19th annual Space Organizing conference on June 17-19 that will be held in Andover, Massachusetts. One of her tasks will be to regularly report back to our membership while there and to let the South Korea media know about the growing international support for the villagers struggle to save their way of life and the sacred nature that surrounds them.

We need to raise the funds to send MacGregor on this trip and appeal to you to make a special donation to the Global Network for this purpose. You can make a tax deductible donation one of two ways. First, you can go to our web site at and look for the orange Donate Now! button and make a secure on-line donation. Or you can put a check in the mail to GN at PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Let us hear from you right away. Help us send MacGregor on this important solidarity trip. Thanks for your support.

Yang Yoon-Mo and Jeju Island

From Bruce Gagnon’s Blog

I have decided to begin an open-ended fast today in solidarity with Yang Yoon-Mo and the other eight leaders recently arrested for trying to stop the Navy base construction in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. By my calculations, professor Yang is now on his 49th day of his hunger strike.

Having twice visited this beautiful island village, and seeing first-hand how the Navy base construction was at that time already impacting this small farming and fishing community, I feel I must do more to help. In my visit there I was particularly touched by the sad thought of concrete being poured over the rocks to make the piers for the visiting U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers that are built here at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

All I could see in my mind’s eye was the abundant sea and plant life, living amongst the rocks, being completely destroyed as the concrete was poured over them. How could I not feel the sadness of that action? How could I not see that the presence of these warships, outfitted with missile offense systems, was going to heat up tensions in the Asian-Pacific as the U.S. continues its military encirclement of China? It’s all pure insanity as far as I am concerned. …

Want To Help?

If you’d like to help you can do any of the following:

  1. You can write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this email and demand an end of the Navy base construction, or you can call the South Korean Embassy in Washington at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island. Or call the South Korean embassy in your own country.
  2. You can watch this video interview with Yan Yoon-Mo, who is now on his 49th day of hunger strike, and share it with others. We need more people to know about the situation on Jeju island.

  3. You can join me in fasting and invite others to join as well. Fast for a day or several days. Be sure to let me know if you will be fasting and I will post your name on my blog.


Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (blog)

Facebook Link Follow this Facebook link to help Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island

Professor Yang of Jeju Island, ROK (South Korea) has been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. The ROK is building a Naval base destroying the lovely coral reefs. There is US pressure and US money. Sung-Hee Choi is in jail on a hunger strike for 11 days, she was only holding a banner saying “not one flower, not one stone”

This is what Choi Sunghee in a prison said to people who support her a few days ago.

The revolution comes in time we do not know.
It comes suddenly when we are in desperate, so close to give up.
I believe in that long water flow which are made by tiny water drops gathering rather than someone’s big power at certain time.
I especially believe the power of culture, power of arts, no, I believe the power of cultured people and artists.
And I believe the truth will be spread out to this whole world as our young generation begin to stand up.
But our fight has to be fun.
And again, our youth should be a source of strength for our fight.
You do not know how much I miss you, Gangjeong village, Gureombi…
I miss them so much, appreciate them so much, and I’d love to see them all.
Brother, Taewhan, will you sing again?
And everyone, will you sing together?
We get together again and do a dance on Gureombi?
But on the other hand, I am glad to come trapped.
More and more people coming to Gureombi, more things are doing!!
Here, I read books that I missed so far, and think a lot of ideas I missed.
There is a passage, especially coming so often these days.
“The absolute, must open one side of the door if the other side is closed.”
Let’s walk together toward the open door!
(And the tears flow quitely)
I’ve never ever cried while visiting.
But so many young people have come, my tears of happy flowing.
Please call more young people of 20’s. Let my tears flowing more.
For a while I was totally numb.
I got here so unjustly.
If your transparent and clear forces get together, It will change everything at the moment nobody can expected.
At the moment we think of defeat, we are really missing out on everything.
But we do not fail as long as we do have beliefs.
I believe history.
Take courage and anger at the same time.
Lying down under a dump truck and crane must be finished by our generation.
You do your things in your way.
More enjoyable, more fun!
Not short time later, a lightning flash occurs and the naval base will be destroyed.
At that moment we must able to say openly.
‘I am that thunder and lightning.’
I believe history and you.
Your infinite power available is up to you!