Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

JEJU ISLAND REACHING BOILING POINT



The latest word from Jeju Island in South Korea is that things are coming to a head very soon. The photos above and video below is from a sudden protest that was organized on March 20 when the Gangjeong villagers learned that the South Korean Minister of Defense was going to come to the village for an "inspection".

The villagers turned out with their yellow flags that say "We Death Defiantly Oppose the Naval Base!” It appears that the Defense Minister, Kim Tae-Young, did not stay long.

Apparently later that same day the Defense Minister met with five representatives from the village including the Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun. A transcript of some of the meeting has been released by the village committee against the base. Here are some bits from the meeting:

Mayor Kang told the Defense Minister Kim, "So-called national business can make both the nation and villagers cooperate and co-live only when it makes both healthy. The site selection process of changing the site from Hwasoon and Weeme to Gangjeong was a problem. Kim Tae-Hwan, the Jeju Island governor and the Island Congress, who said that they would not drive for [the naval base] without villagers’ agreement, have just driven for it. By the result of the villagers own vote, 94% were against the drive for the naval base."

Defense Minister Kim, listened but requested that the people "not point out the problems of the past but to think with an open mind, of the future of Gangjeon, Jeju, and the nation."

Minister Kim emphasized the importance of the naval base construction, saying, "The naval base construction would be a big help for the defense of the southern area of the Jeju Island" and claimed that the "Naval base is different from the general factories that contaminate the environment. If it is constructed, it would help the economic development of the Jeju."

[This statement by Minister Kim that the navy base would protect the southern area of the nation is very interesting. When you study a map you find Japan on one side of Jeju and China on the other. The fact that Aegis destroyers, outfitted with "missile defense" systems would be deployed at this proposed navy base indicate that China is the target.]

Kim also said that, "I think, in the case of Hawaii, the naval base has given much help for the Hawaii development."

The two hour meeting did nothing to reassure the Gangjeong villagers. The villagers lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in Seoul on March 25 and rumors abound that the Navy will make an attempt to quickly hold their ground-breaking ceremony that same day while some of the village leaders are off the island attending the court hearing on the mainland.

Just days ago an activist in Maine told me she had called the South Korean embassy in Washington DC to complain about the proposed Navy base on Jeju Island. The activist was told that many people have been calling to protest the base. It would be helpful if you would call as well. The phone is 202-939-5692 (Admiral Choi) or email at consular_usa@mofat.go.kr

Remind the South Korean embassy that Jeju Island is now called the Island of Peace and that building a navy base that will be used to help the U.S. militarily encircle China will create a new arms race and increase instability in the Asian-Pacific region.

If you live outside the U.S. please call the South Korean embassy in your country and lodge a similar complaint.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: One of the folks on our email list said she called the phone number above at the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC and this is what she wrote back to me:

I just spoke with the aide to the attache at the Korean Embassy and she asked that we contact the U.S. Navy to complain. She understood our motivation is to support the resistance of the people on Jeju but she said "you have to talk to your government because they are the ones who want to do this." She asked me to relay this message to others.


This is a very important statement because I have long maintained that the South Korean Navy was only building this Navy base because the U.S. Navy wanted to use it as a homeport for Aegis destroyers that would allow them to be even closer to mainland China. This statement by the South Korean embassy staffer appears to give credence to that claim.

We need to keep calling the South Korean embassy and tell them not to do what the U.S. Pentagon tells them. South Korea is a sovereign nation and should not allow the U.S. to push them into building a provocative Navy base.

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