Arrived on Jeju
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.