South Korean Navy has been pushing forward a plan to construct a naval base in a southern-most beautiful island of Jeju, specifically a village called Gangjung, but, due to several entangled reasons, Gangjung villagers vehemently objected to the plan and have been protesting it for 4 years now. Many foreign scholars indicated that naval base would be a site of missile defense of US which would complicate the intricate balance of international military power web around this far-eastern area and made a supportive statement for villagers’ protest. Here’s the full statement.
We are deeply concerned about the construction of a new naval base in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea. For more than a decade now, residents there have voiced strong opposition to the new base, yet the government has answered their protests with violence and a refusal to reconsider the militarization of the island.
In 1948, under the auspices of a US military government, more than 30,000 Jeju islanders—nearly one of every nine inhabitants—were brutally murdered after they rose up to protest the division of Korea. Although the US government was at least partly responsible, it has never acknowledged nor apologized to the families of the victims. In 2003, South Korean President Noh Moo-hyun apologized, and Jeju was later officially declared a “peace island.”
Jeju is strategically located in the Northeast Asia triangle between Russia, China, and Japan. According to the South Korea-US Mutual Defense Agreement, all Korean military bases can be used by the US. Since the naval base is being built to accommodate Aegis class battleships, Jeju will be placed on the frontlines of any future US-China conflict.
UNESCO declared Jeju Island a World Heritage Site because of its natural beauty. Building a naval base there will pollute its pristine environment, an important asset belonging to all humankind.
Over the past decade, the South Korean government has resorted to force to impose the base upon islanders opposed to it, and many citizens have been arrested or injured. We are very concerned for people’s safety. We call upon the South Korean government to thoroughly investigate this matter and to prevent the future use of violence against protesting citizens.
We send our respect to the people of Jeju and support them in their struggle to keep their island a demilitarized zone. We support the non-violent resistance of residents of Gangjeong village and support their call for the immediate cancellation of naval base construction.
Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
James Petras, State University of New York, Binghamton
Richard Levins, Harvard Medical School
George Katsiaficas, Wentworth Institute of Technology
Carl Boggs, National University
Ramsay Liem, Boston College
John Berg, Suffolk University
Edward J. Baker, Harvard University
Mariarosa Dalla Costa, University of Padua, Italy
John Trumpbour, Research Director at Harvard Law School
Gerardo Renique, City University of New York
Peter Bohmer, Evergreen State College
John Ehrenberg, Long Island University
Darcy Leach, Bradley University
Grant McCall, University of New South Wales
Ronda Hauben, ohmynews citizen reporter, UN accredited reporter
Jay Hauben, ohmynews citizen repetor
Loren Goldner, Queequeg Publications
Ramsey Kanaan, PM Press
Sasha Lilley, KPFA Radio
Grace Lee Boggs, Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
Dennis Doyle, San Diego
Jeff Land, Durant Road Middle School
Jack Hipp, Southern New Jersey Peace Action Network
Theodore Saunway, Composer. Berlin, Germany