Global Network in South Korea & Jeju Island

From: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes

August 10-26 2015


Navy Eager to Send Warships to Jeju Island - Monday, August 10
Outgoing Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Korea Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti (R)
speaks in an interview on Aug. 5, 2015, next to her successor, Rear Adm. William Byrne. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- The United States Navy wants to send its ships to South Korea's naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju once constructed for navigation and training purposes, the outgoing head of the U.S. naval forces stationed here said Wednesday.

"The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet really likes to send ships to port visit here in South Korea," Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti said in a group interview following a change of command ceremony. "I think any ports that we have the opportunity to visit will be a great opportunity for our navy to do work together (with the South Korean Navy)."

Wrapping up her 2 1/2 years of service as the commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Korea, the rear admiral now will take up a new mission in the U.S. In the ceremony, Rear Adm. William Byrne took over the position.

"Any port that we are able to bring our ships to, we will take advantage of that for great (navigation) liberty and great training," Franchetti said.

Her remarks highlight the U.S.' willingness to engage in naval activities in the geopolitically sensitive maritime arena.

Under an ambitious Navy project, South Korea is building the naval base on the southern tip of the Jeju Island, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The port is capable of accommodating 20 combat ships and two cruise vessels at a strategic naval point leading to the Asian Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, where Asian naval rivalries are brewing.

Some critics have said the new naval base for both military and commercial purposes could increase regional tension, especially between China and Japan or China and the U.S.

Touching on North Korea's growing nuclear threats and provocations, the outgoing rear admiral said the U.S. and South Korean navies are well-trained to deal with any type of North Korean threats.

"I think our navy, we are very well-rounded in our training, and that's what makes us come together to defeat anything that North Korea might develop today or in the future," she said, alluding to North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Also referring to the South Korea-Japan diplomatic tension feared to hamstring the trilateral military partnership among the neighbors and the U.S., she said moves like recent trilateral military exercises are a "good first step."

My Response

I will be heading to Korea early in the morning, first to attend a conference in Seoul and then I'll go on to Jeju Island to stand with the Gangjeong villagers who still continue to resist construction of the new Navy base in their 500-year old fishing and farming village.

All across the Asia-Pacific the US is forcing new base building, or expansion of existing bases, in order to meet the demands of Obama's 'pivot' of 60% of US military forces into the region to surround China.

As a result of the pivot more airfields are needed for Pentagon war planes, more ports-of-call are needed for Navy warships, and more barracks are needed for Marines and Army soldiers. Thus people on Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, Australia, Philippines, and more are organizing opposition to this provocative US move to control the region. (Similarly the US-NATO are encircling Russia with bases as well.)

How come none of the US 'presidential candidates' are talking about the cost of this massive Washington military mobilization? How come they are not talking about how destabilizing these military moves are to world peace?

What is the peace movement doing and saying about all of this?

"The U.S. is a Bad Country"
At the Korean Comfort Women protest this morning across from the Japanese embassy in Seoul
I began my day in Seoul by going to a protest by the Korean Comfort Women with Juyeon Rhee (fellow member of the US Solidarity Committee for Democracy & Peace in Korea). The well attended protest was observing the 70 anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese imperialism.  This weekly protest of the Comfort Women began in 1991 and is held across the street from the Japanese embassy in Seoul.  During WW II Japan forced more than 200,000 Korean women to serve as sex slaves for r imperial Army.

The Comfort Women continue to demand that the Japanese government issue an official apology (which they have yet to do), pay financial restitution to the women, and include the important story in Japanese school textbooks.

Following the protest we boarded a train for the two-hour trip south to the US’s Osan Air Force Base in Pyeongtaek for a guided tour by a prominent local activist.  We were driven around the perimeter of the bulging base that is now adding a second runway – likely as a result of Obama’s ‘pivot’ of Pentagon forces into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China.  (More airfields are needed for Pentagon warplanes.) In order to make the base expansion possible the US has forced the South Korean government to take even more lands from local farmers.  Local citizens and their supporters resisted this land grab by waging a long fierce campaign but their villages and rice fields were eventually taken.

Osan AFB currently has F-16 and A-10 warplanes stationed there as well as the high-flying U-2 spy planes.  In addition the air base hosts PAC-3 (Patriot third generation) missile defense systems that are aimed at China.  Their job is to take out the retaliatory response following a US first-strike attack against Chinese nuclear forces.

The tour continued to the nearby US Army base called Camp Humphreys that is also undergoing major expansion.  Similar to Osan AFB the US forced the grabbing of two rice-farming villages near the Army base to provide additional lands for the base expansion.  These new facilities at Camp Humphreys will allow the US to move its current base inside downtown Seoul southward making it more difficult for North Korea to retaliate against the US bases following a Pentagon attack on the north.

We had dinner with one rice farmer who lost his land when his village was taken.  He and others moved to another nearby location but they couldn't replace their rice farms in the local area.  The farmer, now the mayor of his small village, had to buy new rice land two hours away and must make that long drive back and forth to work in his new rice fields. I was told he spent time in prison for “obstructing” the expansion of the Army base during their protest campaign.

A PAC-3 'missile defense' battery just visible over the wall at US's Osan AFB in South Korea

The Pentagon currently has 27,500 troops in South Korea at 70 bases and military facilities.  In order to pay for the current expansion of its bases the US has demanded that the South Korean government pay for the big changes taking place at these military outposts.  (My liberal Democrat Congresswoman Chellie Pingree calls it 'burden sharing by the host nation'.) Thus for the Korean people it is a double insult – not only is their government an occupied client state of the US empire but the people must increasingly pay for unwanted US military operations inside of their country.

Our guide today several times, while driving us around the perimeter of the two bases, said, “The US is a bad country.”  I immediately thought how much I wished the American people could take this tour and hear his words.  This remarkable activist also spent time in prison for trying to protect his people from the American assault on their culture and way of life.  I was told that he helps take care of the elderly farmers who were not able to purchase new rice fields and now struggle to find ways to make money in order to survive.

I came away from Pyeongtaek today feeling sad, ashamed of the US, and disgusted with those many American people who don’t really care what happens to the people around the world who are displaced by US military bases – or are killed by the soldiers that make war from these outposts on behalf of corporate capitalism. 

I wish I could do even more to help spread solidarity for these good people who want nothing else but to be left alone.

Jeju Island Peace Walk - Wednesday, August 12

Video includes walkers singing, dancing, and celebrating their long struggle to stop Navy base construction on Jeju Island.

This was from the annual walk all around the island in the heat of summer.  Remarkable people who resist with love and determination!

I will be there soon to stand with them in front of the Navy base gate!

Drowning Democracy in South Korea

Today I met with Korean activists who have been associated with the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) which the right-wing government of President Park has had banned.  The UPP had six members in the National Assembly who were forced out of power.  Their great crime?  It’s hard to believe but essentially what the UPP did was dared to call for reunification of North and South Korea and the removal of US military bases across their occupied nation.

Under the draconian National Security Law (NSL) it is a crime to call and work for reunification and to challenge US war bases in Korea.  President Park, the daughter of former brutal dictator Park Jung-Hee, is drowning the exercise of democracy in her country because Washington does not want a free flowing democracy to happen inside of this military colony that sits in such a strategic spot so close to China and Russia.

The past president Park Jung-Hee had been a Korean collaborator with the imperial Japanese during their long and nasty occupation of Korea.  Following the defeat of Japan at the end of WW II the US military occupation forces in Korea put the former Japanese collaborators in charge.  This created the dynamic that led to the Korean war that ultimately saw the collaborators taking control of the south (with full US backing) and the liberation forces controlling the north.

The current President Park nominated a former Minister of Justice official (who created the draconian constitution which allowed her father to be president without term limits) as Chief Presidential Secretary soon after she was elected.  The Secretary then began a media oriented witch-hunt that led to the arrest of the seven members of the UPP on specious charges of ‘conspiracy of insurrection’.  Ultimately the case went to the Supreme Court and the seven party members were sentenced from two to nine years in prison.  The UPP was vilified in the corporate controlled media and the party was dissolved. Party workers were labeled and many now find it hard to get work due to the red baiting by the repressive government in Seoul.

I had lunch with two of the wives of now jailed UPP officials.  They shared the sad story of their homes being raided by the Korean CIA (who called the media from the raided homes to ensure that cameras were rolling when computers were carted away along with nearly empty boxes giving the impression of mounds of evidence being discovered thus condemning the government critics.)

The women talked about the toll the red baiting campaign has taken on their children and their relationships with extended family, neighbors and friends.  Fearing they might be labeled as ‘associates’ many friends turned away.  One of the women told a story about going to the local hospital in hopes of speaking to a psychologist to help deal with the stress but the mental health professional suggested she try another hospital.

When one of the husbands arrived at the KCIA office he was told he was arrested for past work against US military bases and other social justice organizing.

The Supreme Count eventually dropped the ‘plotting for insurrection charge’ but maintained the conspiracy charges on the seven UPP activists.  Religious leaders, particularly Catholics, backed the jailed UPP members.  Jeju Island Catholic Bishop Kang sent a letter to Rome about the case asking for support from the Pope.  When Pope Francis visited South Korea in 2014 members of the families were able to briefly meet with the pontiff.  This religious community support helped lead to a reduction in charges and a serious reduction in the final prison sentences for the seven leaders.

I asked the women what message they would share with readers of this blog.  One responded:

“My son, now 8 years old, was asked ‘What are your wishes?’  He used to say ‘I want my dad to come home as soon as possible.’  Now he says he wants reunification of Korea.  Our suffering is not because of our own doing and can happen to others unless we have reunification – without reunification there will be no justice and no peace.”

The other wife said:

“My daughter is a college senior who came home and packed up and left the house as soon as school vacation started.  She is now working on the Comfort Woman issue.  Maintaining the peace requires everyone to help with the work and to do his or her own share.  We have to link the various issues like the KIA automobile workers struggling for justice to what is happening to the UPP.  It is all one struggle for justice.”

Following lunch we all moved to the entrance of March 1st Park (the day that South Korean people had their mobilization against Japanese occupation).  Speeches were made in support of the seven imprisoned UPP leaders.  I was asked to share some words and I talked about being moved hearing the stories of the suffering families.  I stated that democracy means healthy debate, democracy means you are supposed to question authority, and that it should not be a crime to call for US military bases to be closed down and for the reunification of the Korean nation.

I was told that it is believed by many inside South Korea that the US government has to ‘approve’ anyone who wishes to become president of this beleaguered nation.  Many are convinced that the current Park regime unleashed this attack on the UPP to divert attention from serious charges that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) directly interfered in the last national election that brought President Park to power.

It is clear that South Korea is essentially a client state of the US military industrial corporate complex.  The jailed UPP leaders are being used to send an unambiguous message to the people of South Korea.  Don’t you dare stand up and seek an independent and sovereign nation.

The UPP seven should be supported and applauded for their courage to stand up for true peace and justice.

Pentagon Shipped Anthrax to Base in South Korea - Thursday, August 13

A probe has been launched to investigate the handling of an Anthrax virus shipment at a US airbase in South Korea several months ago. But activists are calling for a tougher government stance. They say South Korea’s weak position has made the country vulnerable against the US.

Our Struggle Makes Us a Better Person

I write this in the car as we make the two-hour drive from Osan Air Force Base back to Seoul.  We were joined for this trip by a delegation of 17 Japanese peace activists from Tokyo and Osaka.

Today was the highlight of my time in Korea so far.  We joined a marvelous peace protest outside a gate at Osan AFB that was made up of more than 500 multi-colored T-shirt wearing groups of students from around the nation.  There had to be more than 1,000 local police and national riot troops there as well making sure we didn’t try to enter the base.  We first had a rally at the gate and then walked around the perimeter of the base during this two-hour protest.

The students began by walking to various military sites starting around August 6 and converged at the gates of Osan AFB in the blazing heat today.  The reason for coming to Osan AFB was because of the recent revelations that the US Forces in Korea (USFK) had recently brought anthrax to the base and at least 22 people were contaminated.  This was a Top-Secret program but the word got to Korea from some American media.  The Pentagon claims it was all a mistake. The USFK are not giving out any information at this point.  The Korean peace movement is demanding a special independent investigation by the South Korean government but so far the puppet regime in Seoul has not shown much interest in making any such demands on their masters from Washington.

I was invited to speak to the assembled peace walkers outside the Osan base gate and told them that the Native Americans said the white man spoke with a forked tongue – Washington always lied.  I said that inside the Osan base is a so-called ‘missile defense’ system (PAC-3) but the Pentagon lies when they claim it is for defense – it’s really an offensive system.  I told the students that the US lies when it claims its biological weapons program is ‘defensive’ – it’s offensive.  I said that Washington lies when it tells the Korean people that it was a mistake to send the anthrax to Osan AFB.  I said the US was in fact sending a clear message to North Korea and China.

I finished my talk to the students by reminding them that Japan had a biological weapons program during WW II that it used to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Manchuria and other places they occupied.  After the end of WW II the US brought the leaders of the Japanese biological warfare team to our country to help create the American biological weapons program at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.  Then during the Korean War the US used those same Japanese biological experts to help the Pentagon drop anthrax and other deadly biological agents across North Korea.  I said the US policy on chemical and biological weapons is hypocritical – we lecture others about the evils of these weapons programs but then our nation continues to produce, test, and prepare to use them on the Korean peninsula.

After dinner we joined the students again at a big park in the city center of the air base town.  There organizers set up a sound truck with a huge TV screen on top of the vehicle and began with speeches and wonderful song and dance routines expressing their outrage against the US military occupation of the country.

The messages were clear and resolute:

  • Kick out USFK
  • Investigate US anthrax program at Osan
  • Apologize Obama who illegally imported anthrax to this country
  • Get out USFK we will do reunification without you
  • US out, out, out
  • Stop stepping on our land, go back to America
  • You tear up our dignity
  • We don’t need you, you are the one who is blocking our reunification
  • We can do it ourselves
  • Our sovereignty is not in our hands
  • Our struggle makes us a better person

As I sat on the ground in the park, surrounded by student groups in their colored shirts, I had tears in my eyes while I listened to their strong words.  Just minutes before, after coming out of the local restaurant where the international guests had dinner together, I saw groups of American GI’s walking through town in their civilian clothes. I thought back on my own time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and felt proud that this time I was sitting on the right side of history.

I know that the GI’s at Osan AFB will be talking about the protest today in the barracks, the chow hall, and at their work sites.  I thought about how much the GI’s really need to experience the collective outrage, love and joy that I experienced today being in the middle of this great protest event.

Liberation Day Rally for Democracy & Peaceful Reunification in Seoul - August 14

It was another wonderful day as more than 10,000 people gathered in two lanes of a city street in Seoul today for a big rally to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from the imperial Japanese.

While many in the country seem satisfied with the official government patriotic show the Korean Alliance for Progressive Movement put together this beautiful rally and march that I was lucky to be invited to speak at.  (See my brief talk below.)

I have been able to see several people again that I'd met on previous trips to Korea such as Young-Je Kim Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) leader who calls me brother and Eun-A Choi who I visited while she was in jail when I visited Korea in 2009.  Eun-A was one of the key organizers of the events today.

After about an hour of walking the march that followed the rally was ended abruptly in the shadow of the massive Samsung building in the heart of the financial district of downtown Seoul.  The police blocked us from moving any further so people sat down and completely closed the already congested intersection.  The police presence was massive.  (I'll post more photos as I get them.)  The organizers moved the international guests out of harms way and we later heard that 3,000 of the marchers were able to break off and headed to the US Embassy where they held another rally.

I can hear the fireworks being set off from the Han River not far from my hotel as I write this.  While many people are feeling the 'patriotism' of the day there are still many in this very divided country that keep the fires burning for national reconciliation and for an independent foreign and economic policy.  None of that is possible as long as the US has 27,500 troops here and controls the political system.

I was very proud to be among these remarkable fighters for real freedom and true democracy on such an important day.  Every time I come to Korea I become even more convinced that the folks here are the best organizers I've ever seen and their spirit of love and determination fills me with the kind of hope that people always ask me to help them find.  The Korean movement reminds us that hope comes from determined struggle.  Wishing and dreaming don't bring change.  It comes from hard work and the willingness to build coalitions and link the issues.  No one does it better.

Seoul Rally Talk

I bring you greetings from the US Solidarity Committee and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.  We recently met in Kyoto, Japan for our 23rd annual space organizing conference.  We were invited to hold our meeting there by local activists in Ukawa village who are protesting the US deployment of a so-called ‘missile defense’ radar system aimed at China.  The US missile defense program is a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.

Today the US is encircling Russia and China with missile defense systems that would serve as the ‘shield’ after a Pentagon first-strike attack.  The missile defense shield would pick off retaliatory strikes made by Russia or China giving the US a theoretical victory.  The missile defense program is dangerous, expensive and highly provocative.  Each year the US Space Command holds a computer war game where they simulate such a first-strike attack on Russia and China.

The Obama administration and the Pentagon are now aggressively pushing for deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea. 

THAAD would help detect and track China’s nuclear missiles headed for the mainland of America.  This US initiative boils down to Washington trying to squeeze one billion dollars out of South Korea’s treasury for installing a missile system that South Korea does not need – in addition to the $880 million per year that Seoul already pays for maintaining permanent US bases across South Korea.

The US and NATO are also deploying these systems near Russia’s border in Poland, Romania and Turkey as well as on board Navy warships in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas.

Both Russia and China have repeatedly warned the US and NATO that these aggressive deployments will halt any further negotiations for nuclear disarmament.  Thus we clearly see the link between missile defense and a new arms race.

All of this US military mobilization is directed to one primary purpose – to ensure corporate control of diminishing natural resources around the world.  The Pentagon has become the primary resource extraction service of corporate globalization.  The people in the US and South Korea are not benefiting from this militarization.

As the US-NATO globalizes their war machine the peace movement must globalize our opposition to these endless war plans.  We must work harder to support resistance movements in places like Okinawa, Guam and Jeju Island where they not only oppose bases but also fight to protect the environment.  We must work harder to show the public how the military is the biggest polluter on the planet.

We must demand that our nation’s resources be used to deal with the coming reality of climate change – not be wasted on more war.  We must demand the conversion of the war machine to peaceful production.

No missile defense!
No more US-ROK war games in Korea!
Close all US military bases in Korea!
Support peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula!


Arrived on Jeju - Sunday, August 16

Juyeon Rhee and I arrived in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island this evening.  We were met at the airport by GN board member Sung-Hee Choi and her partner Koh Gilchun.  We boarded a bus for the hour long ride from the airport to the village.  (Juyeon who lives in New York City has been my translator and guide during my time in Korea so far. She is great fun to be with and a dear soul. We are both part of the US Solidarity Committee for Democracy & Peace in Korea.)


Once we arrived in the village Sung-Hee took us to the now famous (if you've see The Ghosts of Jeju) food kitchen where activists are fed any time of the day.  Various varieties of kimchee and rice were available.  I've seen so many videos and photos of this kitchen but had never been inside it.

I am staying at a brand new four-story Catholic center that was built by donations from Catholics across South Korea.  Renowned activist Fr. Mun and Jeju Bishop Kang raised the funds to build this permanent center where priests from across the nation can come and stay when they arrive in the village to join the on-going protests at the base.

Earlier today our wonderful hosts at the Korean Alliance for Progressive Movement in Seoul took the 25 person international group (mostly from Japan) out to a national park on one of the many mountains encircling the city.  We walked a bit on the trails and saw fish in the crystal clear mountain streams.  We had another great lunch before all saying our good-byes to each other.

During a morning evaluation I was asked for my critical comments about these recent days of non-stop activity in Seoul.  I joked that we didn't get enough food which of course is far from the truth.  We ate like kings over and over again and it is a good thing we spent alot of time marching in the sweaty hot sun otherwise I would have gained 25 pounds.

I will be here in Gangjeong until heading home on August 27.  Fellow Mainer Regis Tremblay left Jeju this morning on his way to the Marshall Islands as he works on his next film.  Another Mainer (Code named Brando) is here as well as is my old Florida friend Yosi McIntire (the son of former Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice leader Peg McIntire).  Yosi leaves tomorrow but he had been in Kyoto with us so we had time to see one another then as well.

I am certain that it will be an exciting and sad experience being here as the Navy base construction nears completion - the first phase of it anyway.  There are plans to expand the base even more necessitating the need for more village land to build housing for the Navy and Marine personnel and their families that will ultimately be assigned here.  So the fight to save Gangjeong village goes on.

Watching the Tides Roll Away At Jeju Navy Base Gate - Monday, August 17, 2015

I was awake earlier than I wanted to be this morning.  I made myself breakfast in the 4th floor kitchen here at the Catholic Center in Gangjeong village.  Since I arrived after dark last night I don't know my way around that well yet so I went walking and exploring for awhile.  The tangerines that Jeju is famous for are now young and will be harvested in the late fall.  The trees are all around the village as are the plants with hot red peppers and the green bean plants.

Knowing that we had to be at the Navy base gate by 11:00 am for the daily Catholic mass I wanted to make a sign for my time here expressing not only my feelings but also the deep feelings of the voices that I heard while in Seoul.  So I went by the peace center and the artist Wildflower set me up with all the materials to produce my sign.  She even helped me color in the letters so I could get it done in time for the protest.

All day cement trucks come and go from the base along with other construction vehicles and workers.  Our group sat on chairs and blocked the entrance and then about every 15-20 minutes the police announced on a loud speaker that we had to move because by now trucks had formed a long line to come and go from the base gate.  Then the police came and four men or woman cops grabbed the chairs with people in them and carried us to the side.  They let the trucks pass through and then we (priests, nuns, activists) moved our chairs back in front of the gate and the dance started all over again.

This ain't stopping the base but these kinds of daily obstruction tactics has set the timeline of base completion back considerably and cost the government large sums of extra money.  Legions of police over these years have been rotated in and out of Jeju to deal with the protests.  In the meantime all of these police have had to listen to the speeches, the prayers, the appeals for justice and peace, and I know that some have had their hearts changed during the process.  When 16 of us were arrested here in 2012 for crawling under the razor wire to get onto sacred Gureombi rock the squad leader that drove some of us to the Jeju City jail told us as much.  He said his entire squad agreed with the village protest.

It's hard to keep a movement going at a hyper pace over this many years so like the ocean on the other side of the Navy base gates the Save Jeju Now movement has ebbed and flowed.  It's the law of nature in motion - movements come and go - they go up and down.  The key to successful organizing is being able to maintain some level of activity in the lean times so that when the tide comes flowing back in again there is organization ready to lead the surging people.

The anti-base examples we find on Jeju Island and in Okinawa - both so connected to the oceans - are truly models for all of us.  Tonight fellow Mainer Brando and I were sitting outside sipping a beer and sharing cookies.  We both agreed how lucky we are to be here and how important it is for other activists around the world to visit these models of sustained organizing on Jeju Island and in Okinawa.  I wish I could get every peacenik I know to come here and see for themselves.

Extra Stuff: While in Seoul I did an interview with an Internet based progressive media outlet called  Voice of the People.  You might not read Korean but they have some good photos of me at the August 15 rally.  See it here

The God of War or Spirit of Life? - Tuesday, August 18


Contrast the two images.

Worship of technology
and the worship
of life

big trucks
heavy equipment
cover the earth
in cement
bury ourselves
we are dead
in spirit
as we prepare
for war

High tech
on Earth
and in space
full spectrum

Boy toys
war games
practice killing
build a shrine
to war
a Navy base
float the war
out onto the sea
kill the dolphins
and whales
with sonar
an altar
of madness
and death

The dance of life
in harmony
the ebb
and flow
of nature

which is
in your town?

The Human Chain at the Navy Base - Wednesday, August 19

Sewing & Dancing in Resistance on Jeju

Wildflower sits during the daily protest at the Navy base gate on Jeju Island.  She sews to help relieve the stress and at the end of the vigil leads the group in three joyful dances.  Below is an interview with her that was printed in the July 2015 edition of the Des Moines, Iowa Catholic Worker newsletter

A South Korean Peace Activist’s Perspective

By Jessica Reznicek

Wildflower is a longtime committed artist and activist I met while visiting the Gangjeong Village of Jeju Island, South Korea. She is from the mainland of South Korea, but has left her home and relocated to Gangjeong, where she lives in a container house and works as a full time peacemaker in opposition to the U.S. naval base currently being constructed in the small village.

Wildflower’s art has become a symbol of both the grief and joy shared by local villagers and peace activists here in Gangjeong. Through craft and dance she expresses both feelings of loss of the sacred Gureombi Rock which was destroyed during the construction of the naval base and joy generated from the close-knit peace community which resides here. Her art celebrates friendship and solidarity in the face of the ongoing struggle to demilitarize Jeju Island.

She quickly befriended me and Frank Cordaro, volunteering to give us daily lessons in Korean. She taught us how to say crucially important phrases in Korean such as “good morning,” “thank you very much,” “peace be with you,” and “hey Gureombi Rock, I love you.”

Wildflower has become my close and loving friend in the short time I have been in Gangjeong, and has generously agreed to an interview so that all of you folks back home have the opportunity to hear a strong voice in this courageous struggle.  

On a final note, I would like to give a big shout-out to another dear friend I have made here in Gangjeong. Without Jungjoo’s fantastic interpreting skills this interview would have never been possible. Thanks Jungjoo!

You are from the mainland of South Korea, correct?  What inspired you to leave your home and join the struggle against the construction of the U.S. naval base being built in Gangjeong?

Yes, I am from the mainland of South Korea. Father Mun texted me that he was going to Gangjeong, and asked if I would come along. I came here on a three-day trip, but when I was here I saw Gureombi Rock for the first time and I saw that it was so beautiful. I felt that if it was covered by this base I could not bear it. I then set up a tent and started to live there.

This was before the construction of the base had officially begun. My tent was set up on a path leading to Gureombi Rock, the purpose being to block progress. I lived in that tent on Gureombi Rock for two months, until a police crackdown took place and the tent where I lived was thrown away by the police. I was then sent to a detention center. I wrote a message on the tent that said this is personal property and if somebody were to take it I would sue. When I was released from the detention center, a person who had found my tent tangled in a fence returned it to me. I resumed my life living in the tent,but eventually I couldn’t make it any longer. I got sick for a while and couldn’t live in a tent for a while, and other things happened that brought me to live in this container.

So, to answer your question, it is simply to say that I am here because of Gureombi Rock.

How long have you been working as a peace activist? How long in Gangjeong?

I have been here in Gangjeong for five years, but have been working as a peace activist all over South Korea for about 12 years total. The former issues I have worked on are about the expansion of a U.S. military base located in Pyeontaek City. Also, I have been a part of other movements and have stood in solidarity with other groups of people who are oppressed by the government. I stood in solidarity with the workers who were laid off by Ssangyong Motor Company. I also stood with the people of the Yongsan District in Seoul—their place was uprooted by the State. I would say that I have been actively working against militarism and capitalism for 12 years.

How do you perceive U.S. involvement in South Korea?

I don’t think my country is an independent country. Stating it simply, we were colonized by Japan, and now we have been colonized by the U.S. The April 3rd massacre and also the uprising of May 18th in Gwangju, they were all done by the U.S. And of course, now everything happening here in Gangjeong the U.S. is responsible for as well. In South Korea there are more than 90 U.S. Army bases and if you include facilities there are many, many more.

How does the construction of this U.S. naval base serve to impact the way of life here on Jeju Island?

Definitely I think that the completion of this project is not the end, there should be something more coming up. As if the base were a cell of cancer, it is contagious and spreads out. More and more houses will be removed, the native people will become displaced, and the community will be replaced with bars and prostitution. In the same way we have seen this happen in the past with the building of other U.S. bases in South Korea. Also, in another nearby city an airfield airbase will be built. A lot of people ask us, “So the construction is almost done, what are you guys still doing here?” Although we know we already have cancer we do not stop trying to cure it. Likewise, we know there is more to do. I want to do the most that I can do.

Not just in the form of changing physical structures does the building of the base threaten Gangjeong, but in the form of energy as well. Just as a physical fence encompasses the base, so too does an invisible
fence of negative, evil energy. This negative energy can spread also, and it poses a threat to the purity and beauty alive in this village today. Our job is also to counteract this bad energy with positive energy.

A lot of people nowadays are afraid of coming to visit Gangjeong Village. Gangjeong is quite well known for its struggle, but in spite of this fact still people are coming to visit. It will never stop. The visitors feel sorry for us and feel helpless that they cannot join us in the struggle, and I tell them that I am doing these things and I will continue fighting. I want other people to know Gangjeong is not a dangerous or scary place. What I want them to know is that there are so many wonderful people and I want to tell their stories through the making of my dolls. So when people come here I hope that they feel comforted by seeing the beautiful murals and my craft room. At first people get uncomfortable because of the tension in the community, but I try to ease people through art, painting flowers and sewing dolls.

I have only been in Gangjeong for a few weeks, but I see you every single day for Mass at the naval base gate. What drives you to keep showing up every single day?  Where does your endurance and dedication to this struggle come from?

In the past, before the construction was happening, I stayed at the gate for 24 hours a day. All day long. At that time there were two groups, two shifts, daytime and nighttime, but I stayed through the entire time. So that shows how much I was eager to stop the construction, but I have been arrested nine times, and in the course of the struggle the presidential administration changed. A new president was elected and activists were told we had better be careful. Before we were being released fairly quickly, but now they have begun sentencing us. Nowadays, I would say that the only place where direct action or struggle is happening is during Mass at the gate. This is why I go, although I am not a Catholic. I go because this is where the resistance is happening.

As you watch the construction of the base become more and more developed each day, how do you overcome discouragement?

I try not to watch it. At some point the fence grew all the way down to the water, the fences were put up. Also, we lost Gureombi and I cannot watch the development of this base take that direction. Actually it is not easy at all. Every day I watch the buildings going higher and I feel very discouraged. It is very hard. 

My colleague Sung-Hee told me one day that the military housing department for military personnel was completely built. And then she turned toward the base and said “You guys continue building, and when
you are all finished we will use those buildings for our University of Peace.” Around that time we were disappointed by the newly elected president, and Brother Sung, another colleague of mine, said our next mission is to make Jeju Island a demilitarized island. I realized that I had gotten so discouraged by seeing such a small thing, but my colleagues had a long view of the future and that helped me to get over it.

In a practical way, in a daily setting, another way for me to overcome discouragement is by sewing. If I concentrate on sewing I don’t happen to see the police. The action of sewing itself is similar to meditation. It kind of calms me down, especially in dealing with anger. It continuously helps me in the process of healing my wounds and healing the wounds of others. Also, in the end I can have the artwork in my hands. My sewing comes in the form of artwork. And then I sell them to make money to support
our struggle. 

One more thing that helps me is dancing. I have a story about dancing. One time an art therapist visited the village and she followed me so as to understand the daily schedule so that she could start the process. At the end of the day we used to have a candlelight vigil and we would dance. She saw this and said to us that we were already engaged in the healing process. In Gangjeong, sometimes we still want to cry more than we want to laugh, but nonetheless, after we dance I always feel lightened.

Having committed your entire life to stopping this base from being built, in your opinion why are there some people in South Korea who are pro-base?

A lot of people say it is for the sake of national security and that we don’t know when North Korea will attack. All of the bases in Korea, actually, they are supposed to be used to protect South Korea, so it is all tied in with the division of Korea. Even the education system has been influenced a lot by this ideology, so that many people are educated against North Korea. The U.S. government has backed all of the bases that exist in Korea. The aim is to solidify them, make them strong, so that they do not close.

Also, one thing kind of dominant in Korean society is the mentality that people think if you remove the top of a mountain to build something, that this is development, and that development is always good.

During your participation in peace work here in Gangjeong, what role have police officers played in the peace movement?

Without the police the naval base cannot be built. It is impossible to count how many times they use violence. One example, they were wearing gloves but on the gloves there was something, sort of like small spikes, that easily scratched our skin. Especially when we were sitting holding each other’s arms, when they drug us apart, they would deeply cut our skin. Often then it would rain and become so painful. Even I myself experienced violence to the point that I couldn’t move my arm for months. I was hurt so badly that I thought I would never dance again. Every day I gave myself acupuncture treatments, so today I think it is a miracle that I can dance. We demanded that the police change their gloves, and to please
use some made of cotton.

Sometimes it feels as though activists and police officers come from completely different worlds, as well as pro-base and anti-base people. Do you think it is possible that something could help us to bridge this gap between one another so that we could all begin working toward peace together? If so, what would that be?

Before, for a while, almost every morning between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. the siren was ringing in the village. Immediately we would go out and go to the gate and stay there all day long. It was very cold, freezing, so once we got there we began to dance the Gangjeong dance. One day, it was so freezing that we danced the same dance three times in a row. I have heard from the people of Gangjeong who are involved in the struggle that I am more determined than the Navy. One day I biked to the gate, and when I arrived someone was just about to turn on the CD player. When the music was turned on I saw a police officer start to dance. So we happened to see each other, the police officer was dancing in the dark, and how embarrassed he was when he saw me watching him. And then he looked at my eyes and asked me directly if I was a professional dancer. The police even gave me a tip about creating a new kind of dance, in a style that is becoming very popular right now. This was very impressive to me.

I also have a story about the police and one of our dogs. Her name was Peace. When the dog was a little, little puppy it was so cute and I intentionally took the dog with me to the gate in the morning because everybody loved her so much and wanted to play with her and pet her and one day a police officer wanted to greet the puppy.                                   
Of course I treat police officers as equal human beings, and I know that they are ordered to do what they do. The longer I stay here the more I realize that the police, they consider themselves professionals, and they do what they do because that is what they want to do. They want to feel comfortable with what they are doing by not disobeying.

Myself, I suffer a lot because of what the police did to me. They tell lies easily, and because of their lies I went to court. I should have done community service instead of going to prison. So I don’t trust the police, the group itself. But still I try to invite them to our actions.  Every day before we start dancing, I say on the microphone, “Police, please join us!”

Tip the Balance Toward the Good  - Thursday, August 20

The water temperature was perfect. Our host MiYoung (center) has her sea diving mask on. You can tell which of the people are the white guys from Maine. Jungmun beach on Jeju Island
At the coffee shop in Gangjeong village after a long day of fun After our tea MiYoung gets us to try some meditation

Peace activism is not all work.  Now and then we get to have some fun. Two days ago fellow Mainer Marlon Brando and I were taken to Jungman beach for a delightful swim.  Our host was local Jeju Island native MiYoung whose mother was once a sea diving woman and in later life created a shelter for battered women.  MiYoung is a fervent supporter of the Gangjeong village fight against the Navy base.  One activist told me that often when the villagers feel really depressed it is usually MiYoung that rolls in and stirs people back to life.  I can believe it. 

Our day with MiYoung lasted about ten hours and was full of joy and laughter the entire time.  When we were swimming in the ocean, with her sea diving mask on, MiYoung was laughing as each wave battered us.

Today after the vigil at the gate from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm I walked down to the port to get a better view of the Navy base construction.  Along the way I passed a massive development of five or six supersized apartment buildings being constructed, in what once was a tangerine grove, and learned that they will be the housing for military families assigned to the base.  The barracks for single Navy personnel have been built on what used to be Gurombi rock - the sacred village coastline.

In spite of all that is being done here the mostly young group of Korean activists remain steady in their work to counter this soul draining militarism with their own determined effort to build up the good.  Many of the young folks, in order to be able to remain here, need work and have thus created their own jobs.  Tonight Brando and I went to a beautiful Italian restaurant on the edge of the village run by local activists (I recognized two of them who were in Regis Tremblay's film The Ghosts of Jeju).  I have been craving pasta for weeks and was not disappointed by the meal.  Brando had pasta with octopus but I went for a more traditional carbonara sauce.  First class and the sourdough bread top notch.

Another creative restaurant run by activist has tables in the middle of the river that flows into the ocean.  You sit on the table and waiters wade out and take your order.  We plan to eat there next week.

Another activist has found some available land and planted rice (rice is not grown here, tangerines are the big crop on Jeju Island).  Another woman activist has created a beautiful bookstore/tea house. The Catholic Center that I am staying in officially opens in early September with an international Jesuit peace conference.  Priests and nuns from around South Korea are constantly flowing in and out of the village to join the protests and will use this place as their center.

Many of these activists are noted play writes, film critics, artists, spiritual leaders and more.  They've brought their art forms into this remarkable movement in Gangjeong village that has run up against the US imperial war machine.  While at first look it might appear that people are loosing this struggle to the makers of endless war one needs to dig deeper into the core of the community to see the deep impact they are making here. 

Once the base opens bars and prostitution will come here as always happens in a military town.  But the early seeds have been planted of another kind of view of the world.  It's a cultural battle between the forces of evil and those seeking to promote life, love, joy, and peace.  Each of us that comes here helps tip the balance toward the side of the good.  Time will tell what will be the ultimate outcome.

More than Meets the Eye in Korea - Thursday, August 20

There are lots of people coming and going each day in Gangjeong village.  The numbers change quickly.  Not only are there people blocking the Navy base construction gate but there is always a Catholic mass being held just across the street in the make shift church.  Yesterday a big bus pulled up soon after we arrived and two-thirds of the passengers stepped across the street to join the mass and the rest came to help block the gate. (The Catholic Church here is unlike any I've seen before.  Many give Fr. Mun and Jeju Bishop Kang most of the credit for the daily presence of priests and nuns in the village.)

While we sit in front of the gate the Navy has 2-3 of their agents filming everything we do.  Not to be out done the activists have five regular camera people filming every thing the police do during the 90 minutes we are blocking the gate.

After the gate blocking and Catholic mass are over we head down to the 'restaurant' where activists are fed by one of the village men who folks call 'Uncle'.  He is a dog lover and is always seen with a cute little fuzzy haired friend in tow.  During these hot days he's been serving cool watermelon, which is much appreciated.

During lunch yesterday I sat across from a professor from Seoul who teaches criminal law to police.  He had come to Jeju to testify in a court case - must have been one of the many that are now underway in Jeju courts against activists for their 'disruption of business and/or government affairs'.  The professor was lamenting South Korea's lack of democracy and said he tries to teach his students that the job of police is to be fair and to defend the rights of the public.  He fears the current right-wing Park administration (President Park is the daughter of former brutal dictator who collaborated with the imperial Japanese occupation of Korea) and worries that war could break out at any time with North Korea.

I heard that North and South Korea were exchanging shells in recent days but the western media is not likely reporting that the Pentagon and their puppet Park regime are currently running war games bumping up against the border with North Korea.  North Korea must always wonder - is this one for real?  Are they going to invade us now?

There can be no doubt that the US wants regime change in Pyongyang.  It would be a real prize for Washington's endless war plan.  North Korea borders China and Russia and if toppled would give the US an even more strategic base in its current encirclement of those two nations.

During the Korean War Gen. Douglas MacArthur had the Air Force cross the border into the former Soviet Union and bomb nearby Vladivostok trying to draw Moscow into the war.  The Russians didn't take the bait.  It reminds me of the current US-NATO war plan to pull Russia directly into the civil war being waged in Ukraine.  Despite all the western media claims that Russia has invaded Ukraine they actually have been quite restrained considering that the Kiev puppet regime has not only shelled the Russian speaking citizens in eastern Ukraine but has also occasionally shelled across the border into Russia trying to draw a response.

The people in Korea have been living with war, or the daily threat of war, for a very long time.  Sadly the American people know virtually nothing about Korea or don't really much care.  Even the peace movement knows little about Korea (historically or the present).  My hope is that the current focus on Jeju Island will help draw some peaceniks interest and maybe, just maybe, even the American people might eventually open their eyes and see what our war mongering nation has wrought here.

Today at the Navy Base Gate

Images from Gangjeong Village - Saturday, August 22

Banners are hanging all over the village.

Blocking Navy base gate with new barracks for sailors in the background.

I am staying at the new Francis Peace Center.

The 'restaurant' where free meals are served each day.  The Navy is expected to try to take this land next.

The Navy base fence with their poster proclaiming the base to be a military-civilian port, would be the only one in the world.  The US Navy would never allow civilian ships to be parked anywhere near their nuclear subs, aircraft carriers and Aegis destroyers.

The Navy base destruction on what used to be sacred Gureombi rock.

Tangerine trees growing inside green houses with Mt. Halla in the background.

Messages on an old wooden pallet.

One of the scrappy nuns at the front gate.

The peace center (were meetings are held) in the middle of the village.

The river that flows into the sea on one end of the Navy base.

Tiger Island just offshore.  Endangered soft coral forests are near the island and have already been severely impacted by the dredging to allow big US warships into the new base.

Wildflower's art studio inside a converted shipping container.

Dinner last night with some of the folks and then quick visit to beautiful view of the ocean (activist on right runs the Italian restaurant we went to and drove us back and forth in her vehicle).

Gureombi rock on my first visit to Gangjeong village before the Navy destroyed the place.

My first visit to Gangjeong village in 2009 being shown the area where the Navy base will be built.  Since that time I've tried my best to help build solidarity for the struggling village and I will continue to do so as long as I can.

My Good-Bye Talk in Gangjeong - Sunday, August 23

This is the promo bit sent around about my talk Tuesday night at the Gangjeong peace center.  Title of the talk is 'Why Jeju?'

What can I say besides 'Why Not Jeju?'  I've once again been touched by the love, joy, sense of community, determination, fierce stick-to-it-ivness, and creativity of the people here.  I consider them all family. 

I'll always do what I can to help build solidarity for the struggle for peace and justice in Gangjeong village - and throughout Korea.

Sunday Song


Coalition Party in Gangjeong Village

Yesterday more than 100 people from mainland Korea arrived on Jeju Island.  They are part of the Sky team which is a coalition of movements throughout South Korea - striking auto workers, Sewol ferry tragedy families, campaigns to oppose massive nuclear power plant powerline towers in several villages, campaign to protect neighborhoods in Seoul from redevelopment demolition, and the Gangjeong Navy base struggle.  They have been working for a couple of years to support one another and last night was the first big joint bash.

The Sky team greeted after arriving at the Jeju airport

When the Sky team arrived in the Jeju airport they were met by many Gangjeong villagers and supporters.  Then the visitors were taken to the April 3 massacre museum and to the ocean.  At 6:00 pm folks gathered in the village center for opening ceremonies that included the presentation of many organic farm products from one of the visiting village struggles to the people of Gangjeong.  A delicious supper was next followed by two hours of singing and dancing.

Opening ceremony in village center before dinner and dancing

One of the many songs and dancing during the wonderful party

I was pulled up several times to dance and fellow Mainer Brando got up and sang 'My Way' which got a big cheer.  My favorite was a slight 82-year old woman dressed in a blue shirt who danced several times and even sang one song.  At one point she came up to me and thanked me - I'm not sure for what - but I was deeply touched by her kind gesture.

At the start the moderator told the assembled that tonight we are going to forget our problems and have fun.  That they did and for their American guests it was a night to remember.  Brando told me afterwards how glad he is to be here in the village.  I could only agree.  I love the Korean people - they know how to have lots of fun alongside their tough fighting for peace and justice.

Big Crowd at Navy Base Gate

The Sky team from the Korean mainland joined us at the Navy base gate this morning in Gangjeong village for the 90 minute vigil and Catholic mass (simultaneously underway just across the street).  Usually the police drag us away from the gate 3-4 times each day but with the big crowd of well over 100 people today they gave up on their first try.

One granny sat in front of a cement truck and my favorite 82-year old woman (she can't weigh more than 75 pounds) leaned up against the front of the truck and refused to move.  Others quickly crowded around and the Navy was forced to back up the cement truck and wait us out.  Just goes to prove that numbers can make a real difference.

It did everyone good to have so many folks there at the gate today.  It was a real boost for the Gangjeong community and those that made the trip to the village clearly enjoyed the experience.

As we continue the daily protests on Jeju Island all of Korea is holding their breath as the US and their puppet regime in South Korea step up their provocations and war games aimed at North Korea.  There is a petition calling on the right-wing South Korean President Park to stop blasting their propaganda broadcasts toward the north.  This is just another example how the US and South Korea continue to keep poking the hornets nest with a sharp stick.

Last Night in Gangjeong Village - Tuesday, August 25

We gathered last night at the peace center in Gangjeong village for my talk and then a party.  It was a lovely night with some great songs by three different activists and then some good food.

I reminded those assembled that the Global Network would remain active in our solidarity work opposing the Navy base in their village. 

I've just packed my bags and need to head to Jeju City for a radio interview on station there this afternoon.  Also the largest online Jeju Island news outlet ran a story about my talk last night.  I'll post the link once I get it.

This morning I was in a meeting with Yang Yoon-Mo, Brother Song, Sung-Hee and Brando.  It was my first real chance to talk with Yang who I supported by joining his hunger strike for a time when he was in prison.  He has spent a total of 18 months in jail for his non-violent protest of the Navy base construction - and the destruction of the sacred Guremobi rock.  I'll write more about this wonderful meeting when I get more time. 

In the morning I get on a plane at 7:00 am and make the long journey back to Maine.  I'll take four different airplanes then a bus and finally a car back to my house.  It will take more than one full day....hopefully all those flights will be on time.

Needless to say it is very hard to say good-bye to the people of Gangjeong village.  As I write this the sun is shining, a strong sea-breeze is blowing, and in the distance I can see the ocean and the ugly Navy base construction going on.

It is hard to stop the evil of militarism and the preparation for war.  Even many people who oppose these forces give up in what seems to be an insurmountable momentum of the war machine.  But now and then in life you meet people with beautiful and fierce clarity and determination who push on with a better vision of the future.  I have met such people here in Gangjeong village.

Today during the closing human chain at the Navy base gate I was asked to sing a song.  I chose the old Civil Rights struggle song "Ain't Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around".  That is the message I leave Gangjeong village with in my heart. 

I'm gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marchin' to the freedom land. Yeah, that's right!

Navy Trying to Kill Gangjeong Village -
Wednesday, August 26

I was invited to come to Jeju City today to appear on live radio show for 20 minutes at 6:00 pm.  As we were preparing to leave Gangjeong village we looked into the sky as a formation of Navy Blue Angel war planes came screaming over the village.  For the next 15 or so minutes they went back and forth directly over Gangjeong doing various stunts.  One of the stunts brought the planes very low in an ear splitting maneuver.

The Navy was sending a message to Gangjeong village.  The message was loud and clear. "We own you now.  Your village will become a war base.  There is nothing you can do.  We will project power against China from Jeju Island.  You'd better get used to the idea."  This is the way the US military empire thinks and the way they treat people who stand in their way.

Just before we went on the air for the radio interview we learned that the Navy is planning to demand that Gangjeong villagers pay $20 million (USD) in fines for disruption of construction operations on the base now nearing completion.  Some activists believe that the Ministry of Defense in Seoul is actually controlled by the Samsung corporation which is the lead contractor for the Navy base construction operation.  Just as in the US, where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics control our government, the Park administration inside the Blue House in Seoul is actually the pawn of corporate interests.

By demanding this outrageous amount of funds from a small fishing and farming community the South Korean puppet government is saying that democracy does not actually exist anymore.  In a true democratic nation people who protest oppressive government policies are not fined and driven into poverty - especially an entire village.  What was the crime of Gangjeong?  They wanted to protect the environment, sacred Gureombi rock, the offshore endangered soft coral forests, the water, the sea life and more.  The villagers wanted to protect their way of life - their 500-year old culture.

I've learned that only South Korea and Japan have this kind of punishing policy that obviously smacks of fascism.  The government of South Korea is controlled by corporations and Washington.  How can they claim in Seoul to be a democracy and then turn around and treat citizens this way?  How can the government claim they need a Navy base to defend the people and then attack the people who use non-violent protest to challenge the destruction of their village?

This will have to go to court but the courts are ultimately under the control the the same corrupt corporate state.  When the Navy demands that the village must pay $20 million in fines that means every man, woman and child owes that debt.  It means they would be naked without any land after the court would take all they owned.  This is nothing more than an illegal and immoral attempt to finish off Gangjeong village.  Every living and breathing human being on this planet should be outraged at this crime against the human rights of the people in Gangjeong village.

After the US directed April 3 massacre on Jeju Island soon after WW II was over a new program was put into place called the 'Involvement System'.  This meant that anyone who was labeled a communist by the US run puppet government could get no job and would have no future.  It also meant that any family member would suffer the same fate.  This demand for $20 million by the Navy is an attempt to reinstate this 'Involvement System' once again.  The only way out for a person is to commit suicide.

I am told that the South Korean regime is using this same punitive program to go after striking auto workers on the mainland and other activists around the nation.  The decision has been made to kill democracy in South Korea.  We are seeing the same method of operation in Japan today as the right-wing government kills their peaceful constitution against popular will.  We see the same system in Okinawa as the people demand US bases there be closed.  We see the same system underway inside Ukraine where Washington has installed a puppet government.

For those out there sitting on the fence this is the time to wake up and see the writing on the wall.  Democracy is being drowned globally by corporate capitalism.  Who will be next?

Take Action:  Call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC and demand that they leave Gangjeong village on Jeju Island alone.  Call  (202) 939-5654. 

More On Jets Over Gangjeong

I am writing from an airport hotel in Narita, Japan after my flight to US got cancelled.  We sat on the plane for 6 1/2 hours yesterday with mechanical problems.  United Airlines pushed us back from the gate three different times but after sitting on the runway the plane went back to gate for more repairs.  Finally, hungry, tired, and extremely frustrated, we were unloaded and had to wait in long lines to get hotel passes and then more long lines at the hotel to check-in.  We still have no idea when the plane will finally leave.

Once I got to the hotel I was able to check emails and I found an enormous response to my post yesterday about Gangjeong village.  (I apologize for multiple emails on the same subject, my server went wild on me and sent out 3-4 emails to each person on my list.)  I've been asking people to call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC.  Several have written back saying they only got a recording but they left a message.  No matter where you live just search the Internet for the nearest South Korean consulate or embassy to you and call them.  Make that effort on behalf of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  It is the least we can do.  Please help spread the word and ask others to do the same.

Thanks to Keven Zeese at the web site Popular Resistance for posting my story about the village.  I'm sure many more will read about it at this very popular site.  You can see it here.

I hate flying anymore.  I prefer taking the train when I can.  But I am glad I was in Gangjeong village during this aerial flyover.  I felt like I was in a war zone.  The truth is that for villagers every day of their life is like living in a war zone.

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