Destruction of Jeju Island's Newly Declared "Wonder of the Natural World" and "UNESCO World Heritage Site" Delayed by Global Outcry. Stay Tuned as the Struggle isn't Over.
May 9, 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.
This base will be a key port for the US Navy that is now moving 60% of its forces to the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama's dangerous and destabilizing military "pivot" into the region. Gangjeong village sits just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland making the proposed Navy base there a strategic outpost for the Pentagon's goal of controling the shipping lanes which China uses to import 80% of its oil.
It is ironic that just last night I went to see the award-winning documentary film called Five Broken Cameras that was shown by Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby Bowdoin College. The story of Palestinian lands being stolen by force in order to build Jewish settlements is sadly similar to the Jeju Island story. At the very time we were watching that film the latest crackdown on Jeju was also happening.
In recent weeks the Jeju crackdown has included the deportation of several international activists who had been in the village offering solidarity for quite a long time. We've got to get more internationals to go to Jeju so that the villagers are not isolated from the rest of the world.
As I write this three of the four who were arrested last night (including Mayor Kang) were still being detained.
In the meantime you can follow the story by visiting the Save Jeju Now website here
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin at email@example.com. (Just cut and paste their email address and the sample letters below)
The Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island (www.savejejunow.org)
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.
Jeju Island 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
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."