Peace Walk Day 3 - Jeju Faces Even More Militarization
Day 3 from the 5th annual Grand March for Life and Peace here on Jeju Island, South Korea.
Yesterday we walked about 13 miles in the hot heat (and sometimes rain). We hit the area called Seongsan by the end of the day that is presently mired in its own fight against the government.
Without consulting the residents of Seongsan, or any other villages in the area, the South Korean government (which is totally controlled by the mega-corporations) has announced their intention to build a second airport on Jeju Island. The current airport is in Jeju City which is on the northern part of the island while Seongsan is on the southern side of the egg-shaped island.
Last night during the after dinner nightly walk program we heard from the local committee leaders opposing the airport plan. It appears that more than 75% of the villagers in Seongsan would lose their homes and four other nearby villages would also be severely impacted. The chairman of the opposition committee told us that they believe the airport is related to the Navy base in Gangjeong village. It seems that the Pentagon does not want to port their expensive destroyers, nuclear subs, and aircraft carriers in Gangjeong village without 'close air support' thus the need for an airfield nearby. But the government knows that another US military base would create big political problems so they are saying the airport would only be for civilian use. By now the people here understand that the US and South Korean governments lie about virtually everything.
(It must be remembered that the announced Obama-Hillary Clinton 'pivot' of 60% of US forces into the Asia-Pacific means that more airfields, ports-of-call, and barracks are needed for military operations.)
One of the most impressive things about the peace walk is the numbers of children and young people who are walking. There are a group of 5-6 kids who have undertaken the job of handing out walk flyers and they spend the entire day running from house to shop as well as plastering the flyers at bus stops and on light posts. As we pass by people watching us walk, I notice that most find it very difficult not to take a flyer from these kids. I think of them as the 'wild pack' and smile. I don't know where they get the energy to keep it up all day long but I need some of it!
Today Ken Jones and I are taking a break from the walk. I had some Global Network tasks needing immediate attention and later in the day I will take Ken to the April 3 (1948) massacre museum near Jeju City. You can't come here without learning more about the US-directed massacre of more than 30,000 Jeju Islanders after Washington took over Korea from Japan at the end of WW II.
The US installed into power the Koreans who had collaborated with the imperial Japanese during their occupation of this country. The public, thinking that the defeat of Japan meant their freedom, were angered and began to protest against the US installation of these right-wing Koreans. The US responded by enforcing the systematic killing of well over 100,000 Koreans across the nation who opposed the way the US was running the country. In the end this dynamic is what led to the Korean war that still is unsettled as Washington refuses to sign a peace treaty with North Korea.
Ken and I get back on the walk tomorrow morning and over 2,000 people are expected in Jeju City for the big finish program on Saturday evening.