Arrived in South Korea - Two Delegation Members Denied Entry
|VFP members Will Griffin (left) and Ken Jones (right) and I celebrate our successful entry into South Korea late last night|
It was a time of conflicted feelings last night when Ken Jones (North Carolina) and I made it into South Korea and were met by Will Griffin (San Diego) who had arrived here in May. Sadly our two Korean-American friends Hyun Lee and Juyeon Rhee were denied entry into South Korea. They were put on a plane and sent back to the US. Hyun and Juyeon, both who live in the New York City area, were to be our guides and translators during our three-week trip to Korea. They help coordinate the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea in the US.
We believe the reason they were denied entry into the nation of their birth is because they are very active critics of the South Korean government's corporate policies that slavishly follow directions from Washington. In particular they have helped create the organizational effort in the US to have Korean-Americans support progressive people here who have long been organizing to take their country back from the right-wing forces that now control South Korea. Hyun and Juyeon have also helped launch Zoom Korea, an Independent news blog that provides critical and undistorted news and analysis of the fight for democracy, peace, and reunification on the Korean peninsula. You can see the blog here.
In particular Hyun and Juyeon have been supporting the growing movement in South Korea to oppose the recently announced US plan to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) 'missile defense' (MD) system in the center of the country. If anyone had any doubt this issue is huge here just take a look at the headline in the Korea Times newspaper that we were handed on our airplane ride last night from Tokyo to Seoul.
It is obvious to me that Hyun and Juyeon were not allowed into South Korea because they are in the middle of this fight. Frankly I was surprised that I got into the country but I suppose I am not nearly as visible to the Korean government as the two Korean-American women are. They speak the language and have the organizational capability to reach out to millions of Korean-Americans on this THAAD issue.
We were met at the airport last night by a South Korean activist who got us on a bus and into the heart of Seoul to our hotel. The folks here are now working hard to fill the holes that were created when our two guides/translators were blocked entry into the country.
Will Griffin (an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran), Ken Jones (VFP member in Asheville) and I make up this Veterans For Peace delegation that will be touring the country during these coming weeks. We'll also go to Jeju Island during this trip to stand with the people of Gangjeong village who remain in opposition to the Navy base that has torn apart their small fishing and farming village.
American Navy personnel were recently spotted at the new Navy base in the village and it is just a matter of time before the first US warships enter Gangjeong waters as part of the 'pivot' of 60% of US military forces into the region. Hillary Clinton, during her time as Secretary of State, was the author of the 'pivot' strategy which requires more ports of call for warships, more airfields for Pentagon war planes, and more barracks for US troops in places like Hawaii, Guam, Australia, Okinawa, Japan, Philippines, and South Korea.
In the Korea Times article shown above Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi renewed Beijing's strong opposition toward the US setting up the THAAD battery. He said the US deployment in South Korea, "has undermined the foundations of trust between the two countries."
Just like the US deployments of 'missile defense' along the Russian borders, the ever increasingly deployments of MD now encircling China are major provocations by the US against peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific. During this visit our delegation will be standing with the growing numbers of people in South Korea who oppose these dangerous US policies. I hope to be able to share their voices with those who read this blog.