Korea journey: Cultural event outside U.S. war base

Shamanic chanting calling for peace. The bird hats are worn in solidarity with birds endangered due to new runway planned to be built on the marshlands surrounding the American air force base. 

By Bruce Gagnon,
Posted in Organizing Notes, 25 February 2024

On Saturday I had the great fortune to be able to join a local cultural event just outside the gates of the US Kunsan Air Force Base. More than 75 people came to attend this wonderful experience.

As we arrived I noticed people flying kites. Then I saw the magnificent 600 year old hackberry tree where those who gathered wrote messages on paper and placed them on the tree. Mine read ‘Yankee Go Home’.

With my translator Hwang Jeong-Eun from Seoul. Our driver on this leg of the trip (who calls herself my step-mother) made sure to wrap me up for the cold.
My new step-mom Seon writing her message to hang on tree.
Korean traditional drumming, chanting and dancing was also happening under the sacred tree as we arrived.
 I had great fun pounding rice into a cake that was then filled with red bean paste. Very tasty.

This event is held monthly and organized by Father Mun and his supporters who work tirelessly to resist the expansion of the air base that now has a couple hundred war planes stationed there.

I was very saddened to see that the local fishing village that was here on this very spot when I visited in 2009 had been torn down at the demand of the Americans.  The only reason we were allowed to enter the area was due to the hackberry tree being named a sacred site.

From the nearby base fence line we could see the weapons storage bunkers and stacks of missiles waiting to be put inside them. It is quite clear the US is preparing for war.

Weapons storage bunkers on the base
See missiles in the background

At the end of the cultural event people gathered and several spoke to the crowd. I was invited to say some words and I told the story about living in Wiesbaden, Germany in my youth when my Air Force family was stationed there. One day while walking to school I saw some graffiti that read ‘Yankee go home’. This was my first memory of seeing that slogan and it stuck with me over the years as it contrasted with the brainwashing I got from the military-run school on the base. We were taught that the US was the greatest  nation on the planet and that we were defending Germany from the bad Soviets.

Once I figured out the truth, when I joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War, my disillusionment with my country grew by leaps and bounds.

Just as things were wrapping up four US military helicopters took off and did a circle over the area where the cultural event was happening. I heard a murmur in the crowd and was told they were saying the base authorities were trying to intimidate those at this peaceful and spiritual gathering. I was thinking the same thing. 

Catholic priest and activist Father Mun saying goodbye and asking me to return.

As we left I was reminded how much money and lives are being wasted as Washington attempts to hold on as the dominator of the world. But the US currently is $35 trillion in debt and many global governments are dumping the dollar. A rude awakening is coming to the American people as the imperial empire is collapsing.

The sooner the better.

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