Gangjeong is in emergency! Resistance to naval base construction continues…

Photo by Fr. Colbe Jung

by Sung-Hee Choi [see updates below]

April 8 and 9

While company workers block the gates [of the site of a new naval base being constructed on Jeju Island, South Korea], police are intentionally silent about it. People are desperately keeping the gate. Company workers’ violence to people is a very high possibility. One young man was hit in the eye with glass and needed medical investigation to his face yesterday. One person was arrested yesterday.

It was from early in the morning of Monday, April 8 that such change in the situation happened in the village. During the conflicts between the people and construction company workers, Mr. Bae Gi-Chul, representative of the Pan Island Committee for the Stop of Military Base and for the Realization of Peace Island, was arrested while he was sitting in front of a truck.  He was charged with obstruction of business.

For more photos and videos, see and here.

[April 12] A peace activist was arrested around 1:30 pm. He was standing in front of a truck but left before the 3rd time warning by police. It was unusual that he was arrested today. People think he has been targeted by the police for a long time.. He is the 2nd person to be arrested following Mr. Bae Gi-Chul on April 8 who was released on the next night.

Around 2:30 pm, a huge truck passed by the bridge on the stream and entered into the gate. The small bridge is not for such heavy truck but the navy has been enforcing construction(destruction) anyway in violation of laws. During the process, there were risks that some activists could be injured as they strongly protested to it and the police stopped them with their force..One woman activist appealed later that she was taken off cloth during the process.

[August 14] Mr. Kim Young-Jae, a peace activist was illegally arrested and got the arrest warrant

On April 12, Mr. Kim Young-Jae, a dedicated Gangjeong peace activist and a member of the SPARK (Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea) was arrested. He was standing in front of a truck around 1 pm in protest to illegal environment-destroying construction (destruction). His arrest marked the 2nd arrest this year, following the April 8 arrest of Mr. Bae Gi-Chul, representative of the Jeju Pan-Island Committee for the Stop of Military Base and for the Realization of Peace Island (Pan-Island committee afterward). Mr. Bae was released next night.

Photo source: Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon’s tweeter/ Mr. Kim Young-Jae being detained in the Dongbu Police station, Jeju City on April 14.

On April 14, the prosecutors filed for an arrest warrant against Mr. Kim Young-Jae and the Jeju court issued it against him around 2 pm.  With Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo who hits his 74th prison day as of April 14, 2013, Mr. Kim became another current prisoner.  The total numbers of  imprisonment became 24.

Mr. Park Young-Sung, a fellow activist, has reported on April 12 that the arrest on Mr. Kim Young-Jae was illegal and unreasonable. He reasoned that:

1.  Even though Mr. Kim left the site after the police’s 2nd request for leaving, the police obstinately and illegally arrested him.
2. Even though another activist with a sign stayed longer than Mr. Kim, sitting on chair in front of the truck, the police arrested only Mr. Kim.

It should be mentioned that Mr. Kim Young-Jae has been a remarkably dedicated activist responsible for coordinating activists in Gangjeong, as well as being a member of the SPARK that has been targeted by the government for years. He was also one of the five who climbed up to a caisson dock in Hwasoon in protest to naval base construction on the opening day of 2012 WCC (World Conservation Congress) Jeju, Sept. 6, 2012.

“Where there is oppression, there is uprising!”
Amid the people’ fury for the arrest of Mr. Kim, a big trailer advanced into a gate of the naval base project committee building complex 30 minutes later of his arrest on April 12. The trailer was ignorant and uncouth to load its heavy weight on a small road in front of gate. There were risks that protesting people might be injured or some of them could be arrested, too…

In the afternoon, there were also Pan-Island committee activists who visited Gangjeong for protest after their press conference in the morning, which was on the environmental destruction for the naval base  construction (destruction). The police  forcefully encircled them with physical force, too. However, as the words that ‘where there is oppression, there is uprising, stated by people during 4·3 uprising are still remembered by many people, more people will rise up against bigger government oppression . The aspiration for peace would be greater.

[April 16] A woman peace activist, Lee Jin-Hee, representative of the Jeju branch of Korean Federation for Environment Movement, was arrested in front of the naval base project construction gate around 1: 40 pm. Following the arrest of Mr. Bae Gi-Cheul on April 8 (released next night), Mr. Kim Young-Jae on April 12 (got arrest warrant on April 14), it is the 3rd time arrest this year. As if reminding 4•3, the Park Geun-Hye government seems to decide to indiscriminately arrest its political opponents regardless of the matters of proper legal procedures…We will need your constant protest call to Park Geun-Hye government to stop the war base project in Jeju. Thanks
[April 27]  Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon resists to the police occupation of gates.

Since April 25 when about 800 policemen were mobilized, led by Kang Un-sik, a Jeju-born and new Chief of the Seogwipo Police Station, who wields drastic policies against people, the two gates of the naval base project have been occupied by the policemen. Activist who have been fighting long time in front of the gates have been under the great danger of arrests. One woman activist and three Jeju activists have been arrested on both days of April 26 and 27, though they were all released as of April 27. Even the Catholic mass has been disrupted by the police blockade. However, here is Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon and other Catholic Fathers who continue to give hope to people and inspire them again and again.   Video by Pang Eun-Mi

Fr. Kim Seong-Hwan in the morning of April 28
Photo by Leejesu Youmyoung

[April 28]One person was arrested around 11:30 am

Video by Leejesu Youmyoung

It is a bright Sunday. But construction trucks have been endless day and night. The fifth arrest since April 25 when Kang Un-Sik, the new chief of the Seogwipo Police Station started his drastic policies against people. On teh day, 3 people were arrested (all were released by now). In the video, he is with black sun glass. His policies remind 4•3 when the military and police mercilessly killed the Island people 65 years ago. His style with black sun glass and military boots, with the brutal words of ‘shot them all,’ [with handy fire extinguishers that are known to greatly harm human bodies] on April 25, have been big controversy in the Jeju media. For me, he very reminds the insane suppression army leaders during the Jeju 4•3 period of people’s uprising and US-ROk massacre on them, 1948 to 1954. Very similar figure to him appears in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize film, “Jiseul.’

Heart-breaking Catholic mass on Sunday, April 28 (Video by Pang Eun-Mi)

Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon finally bursts tear when he sings a daily song of ‘Peace of Gangjeong and love you, Gureombi.’ The video maker, Ms. Pang Eun-Mi cannot but cry along with him. Since April 25, the construction(destruction) main gate has been occupied by the policemen and has been forcefully opened to allow 24 hour entry/ exit of construction trucks. Fr. Mun provides communion to Fathers, Brothers and people through the policemen. When he comes to the gate of naval base project committee, he hears one activist has already been arrested. After returning back to a tent across the main gate, he fell down for a while, though he would be recovered soon. Fr. Kim Seong-Hwan keeps the gate alone. Tearful resistance is continued in Gangjeong on a bright Sunday…




The 4th prisoner against naval base, this year

Posted by Save Jeju Now | Thursday, 2 May 2013

1. Mr. Lee Jong-Hwa, a poet and peace activist, is to be imprisoned.

Mr. Lee Jong-Hwa is a poet, writer and peace activist with a good-nature smile, lots of humor and tear. He is the poet who loves travel but now he is to be jailed. The first book he asked people in the police station where he is currently held was a Korean and English language dictionaries.

He was arrested on April 28, Sunday,  got the arrest warrant from the court on April 30.

He would be the 4th prisoner this year after Yang Yoon-Mo (arrested directly from the court on Feb. 1), Mr. Park Sung-Soo (volunteered to be jailed instead paying fines on March 25. He was released on April 1) and Mr. Kim Young-Jae (arrested on April 12).

He would be also the 21st prisoner in relation to the naval base. The total numbers of imprisonment are more than that as several people have been repeated jailed: For example, Yang Yoon-Mo.

Mr. Lee Jong-Hwa is told to be moved to the Jeju Prison on Friday, May 3.

According to an activist who met him in the Custody room of the Dongbu Police Station where he is currently held on May 1, He expressed his strong will saying that, “I want neither review of legality for confinement nor bail. Mine was a just protest to illegal construction (destruction), as I am a member of environment group. My 100 bows were what I could do against unjust state power.  In my own way, I will prepare for trials, while reading and writing.”

He  explained the situation of his arrest on April 28:

“I had no intention to be arrested on the day. However, I sat in front of a gate to protest to police ravage on Catholic mass and 100 bows. I was also protesting to the new Seogwipo Police Station chief who was haughty enough to say, “shot them [with harmful fire extinguishers].” I was to carry on 100 bows, the police interrupted me. So I sat on in protest. When a mass started, I became to naturally join the mass but the mass was also interrupted, too.”

It was his 6th arrest. Some people suspect that he had been targeted by the police, like Kim Young-Jae, since there was something that was not easily understandable when he was arrested: The truck seemed to intentionally move behind him as if he is clearly doing so called ‘obstruction of business,’ some people have pointed it out.

Mr. Lee Jong-Hwa’s wish to remaining people in the field is that 100 bows should be continuously carried on:

“The 100 bows in Gangjeong were initiated by the group, Life and Peace Fellowship, mainly by the Buddhist leaders like Dobup. I am a Catholic devotee. However, I have spread the compact disks of 100 bows narrative to many places including workers’ protest sites. It is to build the space for union.”

2. Update on Yang Yoon-Mo on his 90th day in prison

Yang Yoon-Mo (57, prisoner No. 301) who was directly arrested from the appeal court met his 90th prison day as of April 30. He got 1 year and six months actual sentence on the day. The Supreme court dismissed his case on April 26, confirming the unjust decision of appeal court.

As he has already lived in prison for two months(2011), 42 days(2012), and three months(as of April, 2013), he left about 1 year.

Here are his words on the final court decision on the dismissal of his case:

“ I think that the judges did not consider enough as they see the political situation as security state. Didn’t they simply dismiss my case, considering it as a kind of security case? I considered re-final appeal. But I knew there are not enough lawyer force [for the struggle] so I didn’t.

I criticize unilateral legal application that drives struggle opposing the naval base as security case. However the essence of the event comes from the corrupt state and government officers.

In my case, it is a resistance to improper legal procedures. It is a protest to the government officers robbing residents’ properties and depriving the people’s basic right and right to happiness. It is wrong that they applied crime to me. Their investigation way is to presuppose that I am a criminal. I will file for an appeal to Constitution.”

He will start to eat rice from May 1, after the recovering period with rice gruel since the end of 52 days’ fast on March 24.

Regarding the case of Yang Yoon-Mo, you may refer to UN Special Rapporteurs’ joint allegation letter to South Korean government on human rights violations in Gangjeong, Jeju.

A new building is being built across the Jeju prison. People say the Jeju branch of the National Intelligence Service moved its location from the downtown of Jeju City to here.

3. Mr. Kim Young-Jae’s prison letter on April 25.

As of April 30, Mr. Kim Young-Jae (41, prison No. 435) got his 19th day in prison. In his April 25 letter to his senior in the village, he wrote  as the below.  These are translated excerpts:

I guess that many people were embarrassed by my arrest and imprisonment. However I am fine, different from your concern about me.

It is because I have been preparing for this, expecting my imprisonment long time ago.

During the investigation process, I felt that they had really decided their mind to arrest me. That is why I am more concerning about the peace keepers in Gangjeong.

I strongly feel that they want to arrest and imprison peacekeepers, so that they remove the power for the opposition movement against the Jeju naval base construction. Please particularly heed them.

When I was in the field in Gangjeong, I could not see very well. However, a little distant from it, I become to realize the things that I could not think before.

I become to see how this opposition movement against the Jeju naval base has continuity and meaning in the history of democracy, peace, and unification movements that have been heartbreaking and continuous for tens of years in Korea; and how I am and which position I stand on in those movements. It is becoming really precious time. [..]

Even though I am confined in a small single room, my heart is freer and happier than any other time.

There could be no regret since I have acted according to my consciousness and faith.

Tomorrow (April 26), there is a trial on the case of climbing up to the caisson dock in Hwasoon on last September 6. (* Mr. Kim Young-Jae was one of the five activists on the day)

I will see welcome faces. I wait for tomorrow.

Please tell all the peace keepers that I miss them so much. Please tell them not to be shrunken, not to be exhausted but fight with happiness.

P.S. Please say my special hello to the village uncles. I love them.”

4. The military wielding violence to civilians are not punished while the civilians are.

Nine villagers and peace activists got the court decision of probation on April 30. They  have been charged of obstruction of business etc. when  they entered into naval base construction area in protest of the navy’s  violence on Dr. Song Kang-Ho on June 20, 2011.

On the day. Dr. Song Kang-Ho and some people climbed up to a construction barge on the Gangjeong Sea in protest to illegal destruction without restoration of damaged  silt  protectors. At the time, Dr. Song was hit by the navy personnel during the process.

The criminal department of the Jeju District Court  sentenced three people with  six months’ imprisonment but two years’ probation while six people, with four months imprisonment but 1 year probation respectively.

Prof. Shin Yong-In, a law Professor of the Jeju University was infuriated to hear the result of court decision to say that:

“Is it persuasive by common sense that a subject who hit the other is are not punished but the people who protest to it are rather punished?

Furthermore, the subject is the soldier(navy). Military personnel’s violence on civilian is prohibited even during the war time. It is clearly a criminal activity. Does it make sense that the soldier who hit the civilian is never punished but the people who protest to it are rather punished?