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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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, April 26, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH FORMER JEJU GOVERNOR



Now nine days into his solidarity fast, religious leaders meet with former Jeju Island governor Shin inside the tent of Professor Yang on the disputed coastline



Interview with Mr. Shin Ku-Bum, former Jeju Island governor
April 23, 2011
By Sung-Hee Choi
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Since April 18, Shin Ku Bum (1942- ), a former Island governor has been doing the solidarity fast along with professor Yang Yoon-Mo, a movie critic who was violently arrested by the Seogwipo station policemen on April 6 and has been in hunger strike in jail since then. Along with his concern about Yang’s life, Shin has demanded stop of the illegal and violent naval base construction in the Gangjeong village and national investigation on the process of the naval base construction. Shin has done 9th day solidarity fast in Yang’s vigil tent on the Joongduk coast in the Gangjeong village as of April 26. The below is a short interview with Shin and was held on April 23, the sixth day of his fast. We hope that the below could be one of the reference materials for the people who are concerned with Shin and his solidarity fast.

Please tell about yourself and your life

I was born in the Jeju Island, attended the Korea Military Academy instead of the university because I had no money but left school in the mid-course. [It was because his future wife did not like soldier.] After my first child was born, I taught myself and passed administrative civil service examination then started my life as a government employee and then was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. After that, I studied the agriculture economics in the North Carolina State University. Returning back home, I worked as a director of the bureau then as an agriculture attaché in the embassy in Italy and then as a director of livestock farming after which I spent my life as a visiting researcher in the Georgetown University. Later as I returned back home again, I worked as a head in the office of planning and management in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. After that, I was designated as an Island governor and then elected as an Island governor again. The total period that I worked as an Island governor is from 1993 to 1998. After that I became a chairman of the central committee of the livestock farming cooperative, leaving politics, and ran eco-friendly agriculture business. During the IMF crisis in Korea, I resisted against the integrating move of the agriculture cooperative and livestock farming cooperative then I was jailed because of political retaliation for 790 days which was from Nov. 30, 2007 to Jan. 25, 2010, in the Youngdeungpo prison, Seoul. I see myself as personally conservative but socio-politically reformative figure.

What was the reason for solidarity fast with a professor Yang Yoon-Mo?

On Dec. 15, 2010, the Gangjeong villagers got the court decision of the dismissal on their lawsuit for the reason of disqualification of them as plaintiffs, which they had filed on Feb. 28, 2010 and which had been related to the issue on the absolute preservation areas. Since I myself was the victim of the judicature, I was infuriated by it and became to have concern with the naval base issue, having press interview etc. Since then I became to have more concern with it as I visited the site once to twice.

When I heard the news on the restraint of Yang Yoon-Mo and his fast in jail, I was reminded of his words that he “would die once reclamation of the coast and sea starts,” even though I could see him only for short time. He graduated from the same high school with mine, as my junior, but I could figure out his character. What would be the way to make him live? For that, I thought pressuring him would be the only way - that I would not end my fast in his tent he had lived in the Joongduk coast if he did not end his in jail.

On the second or third day of fast in the Joongduk coast site, my thought on the naval base has become much differentiated. In the past, I had thoughts that there could be the naval base, if needed for security and that Hwasoon [nearby village] would be OK while Gangjeong would not, which were similar to that of ordinary people.

However, I become to rethink on the naval base, looking at the Gangjeong villagers’ suffering, the navy’s role and its attitude toward villagers. There should be no naval base in the Jeju, not to mention in the Gangjeong village. The reasons are: First, the base business the navy is currently building is not the security business. It is for the navy who is in conflict with the army to expand its vested interests. In other words, the navy is doing its own business, under the pretext of security. Second, it is because I became to be aware on the values of life and peace. The Jeju Island should be that kind of Island. Third, if you look at the navy’s official promotion materials, it says that it has no plan for the joint usage of it with the U.S. military. If its words are true, there is no reason for the Jeju to have the naval base. It is needed to have the investigation on the reason and process of the naval base construction. The construction should be stopped at least until the result of the truth investigation on it, as well.

What do you think the reasons of the fact that the Island people’s concern on the opposition to the naval base is low?

First, it is because of their point of view that they should accept the security facilities. Second, it is because the naval base issue entered the Gangjeong village under the name of the civilian-military complex harbor and the majority of the Island people think it positive, considering that such naval base would provide them economic advantage. The Gangjeong village is specially an area where there should enter no naval base but the navy has gotten in its hands the main power class who might have been able to persuade the Island people, when it first came to Gangjeong.

As of your sixth day hunger strike, what have you seen and felt meanwhile?

First, it is the realization that I have not really known about the world we live in. I have not really been concretely practicing the most supreme values of life and peace, even though I have known of them in abstract way. We should do our works with ecology and environment as our most precious values, transforming ourselves from the lives of the development-prioritized era. Second, it is the realization that the lives of the peace activists who work for the values of life outside the political power sphere are far nobler than those of the politics society. Third, it is the realization that the villagers who was originally innocent have become much mature, being aware of the issues on the ecology and environment. The villagers have gone through the hard struggles for nearly four years. We should be one in Gangjeong for our efforts to be achieved, on the historical line from the April 3 [massacre and uprising in 1948].

The April 3 occurred [in 1948] when the state had no power and the essence of the problem was that the nation excessively suppressed people. The Gangjeong naval base issue is on the same line in that latter point, but is different in the sense that the state has betrayed the villagers and Island people rather than that it has no power- in other words, the state has not filled its obligation. However, both of April 3 and naval base are connected to the U.S. military.

What could be the differences between your life in the past and now?

Even though there could be a little difference, it is basically same. If not the past experience, I could not be able to do this. But I have seldom thought that I would experience same thing again in my current age.

During the terms of life as a public servant, I have confronted with governments lots of times for farmers even though I was a government employee. For example, there was the incident called that of the horse matters’ group in 1989. The profit of that group had been used as the public fund for farmers but the Ministry of the Sports attempted to rob of it so I resisted against it. Another example is that, right after the IMF, when the IMF was trying to process structural adjustment and to forcefully integrate the agriculture cooperative and livestock cooperative, I fought against the government. At the time, I had to fight with the departments of the legislative and judicature, as well. As a result of that, I had to go to jail. I have fought against the unjust politics and administrative power. I see the issue of Gangjeong on that same line. I have not thought that I would confront again myself [with those powers].

Whether this struggle would be won or failed, there are things that we should keep. When the people and sovereignty are experiencing unjust suffering because of wrong policy, we should act according to our consciousness. We should be aware of the value of life and act to save it. I am thinking to continue to do on the eco-friendly agriculture in the agriculture field.

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