I wanted to share this letter from long-time peace activist (and Veterans for Peace member) Brian Willson. It is a remarkable letter and included important historical information about Jeju Island. It was posted on May 26.
Honorable Li Tae Sik, Ambassador
Embassy, Republic of Korea
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
As a former US military officer who participated in our illegal war against the Vietnamese people, I am outraged over the decision of the South Korean government, under relentless pressure from the United States government, to contract with Daelim and Samsung Engineering Construction companies to build a Navy base at Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island (Island of Peace). This decision goes against the expressed wishes of the citizens of Gangjeong. Korea represents itself as a democratic republic that upholds human rights of its citizens. How can this be? The stated purpose is to create a deep water port for additional Korean Aegis Destroyers ($1 Billion each), and porting new US Aegis Destroyers. This mentality toward evermore war and militarization creates insecurity, not security! And that you consent to such tyrannical US pressure is shameful!
Well known South Korean movie critic, Prof. Yang, is on his 53rd day of a water only fast and has chosen to die unless construction of the Navy base is permanently cancelled. Korean citizen Sung Hee Choi is in jail on her 10th day of a hunger fast. At least seven other Koreans have been illegally jailed in Jeju for their nonviolent protest. And now, in the USA, there are a number of people who have begun fasts in solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong who are vehemently opposed to construction of this base in their peaceful, beautiful village.
I have traveled to Korea on eight different occasions learning more of your history, and the history of US presence since our first intervention on the Korean Peninsula in August 1945, and our continued militarizing/controlling influence on your people and culture.
I am aware of the horrendous massacre in 1948 of at least 30,000 Jeju villagers by Syngman Rhee's ruthless death squads, under the direction and oversight of US ground advisers and US air support. The continued influence of the US in South Korean affairs, including the obstruction of a permanent peace treaty with North Korea, perpetuates a mentality of hatred, motivated by immense profits for the military industrial complex while threatening peace for both Korean people, and the rest of us.
Please stop construction of the Navy base on Jeju Island, the Island of Peace.
S. Brian Willson
Portland, Oregon 97206
US Military Photos in National Archives: Some of the thousands of Jeju citizens rounded up in 1948 by Korean Constabulary and right wing vigilantes under orders from the US military. Islanders opposed the partition of Korea and US puppet Syngman Rhee's undemocratic elections in the South VS wishes of the vast majority of Koreans. 30,000 - 60,000 Cheju (Jeju) Islanders were murdered in the scorched earth repression ordered and overseen by Colonel Rothwell Brown, US military commander on Jeju, in concert with Captains James Hausman and John Reed, using US weapons and air power. One of the Korean collaborators with the US military was Park Chun Hee, later to become dictatorial ruler of South Korea, who escaped execution by helping identify his former associates, including his own brother. This, despite the fact that commander of US armed forces in Korea at the time, US General John Reed Hodge, acknowledged that the vast majority of Jeju’s inhabitants were poor farmers and fishers living a marginal existence but who lived democratically in a "truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the people’s committees.”