On July 5, South Korea’s Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings against the Ministry of National Defense for proceeding with construction of a naval base on Jeju Island without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). It also ruled that the governor of Jeju had the authority to change the designation of absolute preservation areas. This ruling wasn’t just a major blow to residents of Gangjeong village where the navy base is being built but also to the many voiceless marine organisms. As you read this, massive caissons the size of four-story buildings are about to drop on soft coral reefs, forever destroying local marine ecosystems home to several endangered species.
Although the villagers’ hopes of winning in a retrial in Seoul’s High Court are slim, they have a golden opportunity to influence the court of public opinion by garnering the support of thousands of environmentalists worldwide. This upcoming September the world’s largest and most important environmental conservation event, the World Conservation Congress (WCC), will take place at Jungmun Resort, just four miles from Gangjeong.