The Navy’s damage claim against Gangjeong residents is a declaration of war
against its own citizens
By Lawyers for a Democratic Society (Minbyun)
The ROK Navy is claiming a sum of 3.4 billion won [approximately 3 million
US dollars] in damages against 116 individuals including residents and clergy
and 5 organizations. The Navy is demanding this money in compensation for the
losses incurred by the construction company due to a 14-month delay in
construction in the naval base due to residents, etc. obstructing the work.
We (Minbyun) found that this case is an unjustified declaration of war against
If the state suffered property loss, would it be fair to take individual
citizens to trial to claim reparations? In pursuing its objective, the state has
the power to seek criminal punishment and to take many steps including
administrative measures, fines, penalties, non-compliance charges, etc. and the
imposition of various administrative monetary sanctions. If such a state were to
suffer financial losses due to a delay in construction and were to claim
compensation from individual citizens, this could be used as a weapon to block
all those who are critical of any state policy in the future. In this kind of
situation, who would be able to oppose state policy?
When ominous heavy equipment destroys the foundation of life with no
hesitation, citizens have no other power but to use their own bodies to stand in
front of it. Before carrying out so-called ‘state policy’, the state should
listen carefully to its citizens’ voices. When the reckless development of the
state and large construction companies threaten the right of citizens to a
peaceful existence, the right of citizens to oppose this must be guaranteed as
their natural and constitutional right since sovereignty rests with the people.
To condemn this action as illegal is to delegitimize the foundation of
The insistence that the construction delay was caused by residents is
groundless. There are multiple complex reasons for the delay in the construction
schedule.The principal reasons include disputes and controversy over the
legality of the work, suspension orders issued over illegal construction work,
losses and damage to structures caused by the natural environment, the strong
wind and waves of Gangjeong’s coastline, Typhoon Bolaven, Typhoon Neoguri, etc.
It is sophistry and exaggeration to claim that the residents blocking
construction vehicles from entering and leaving the base for only a few minutes
at a time caused the delay.
The responsibility lies solely with the state for threatening citizens’
right to a peaceful existence and causing their pain by enforcing this wrongful
government policy. There is no one else as responsible for this as the
government. The state rather than the residents bears the responsibility.
Without mentioning a word about their own responsibility, it is the height of
irresponsibility for the state to shift the blame for the delays in the
construction onto individual citizens. The state that should be protecting the
basic rights of its citizens is instead declaring war against them.
The Navy read and copied an enormous amount of criminal case records in the
prosecution office in order to prepare this civil case. Individual criminal case
files contain very important personal information so they only can be provided
to a third party based on legal grounds. For example, in cases where the parties
have applied for a trial or where the need to conduct an investigation is
recognized, it is possible through a decision of the court. Even before the Navy
can properly file a lawsuit on legal grounds, it must reveal whether it copied
individual criminal case records.
Minbyun defines this claim for reimbursement not as one simple trial but as
a provisional seizure used to strangle workers. Like this, it has a historical
connection to the suppression of labor. It has a dishonest intention to extend
dangerous statism to the judiciary. Minbyun will organize a legal team to fight
for the 121 people and will make efforts and take measures to inform the public
both domestically and internationally about the unconstitutionality and
illegality of this case. The state should stop threatening citizens with this
case. It should get out from behind this case and get down on its knees in front
of its citizens and apologize for causing them pain.
March 30, 2016
Han Taek-geun, Chairperson
Please call the South Korean embassy or consulate nearest you and
complain about this outrageous action to destroy Gangjeong village. Here
is the link to find the ROK consulate nearest you in the US. Do it today!