Gangjeong is alive. Its vivid life seldom stops despite ongoing construction inside the construction area during the weekend. Here are some sketches and stories of Gangjeong on Sunday, Nov. 25 by the early dawn of Monday, Nov. 26. Meanwhile our friends in Okinawa had a Mangetsu Matsuri (Full Moon festival on Nov. 24, Saturday. You can see the full report and pictures here. You can also see the solidarity messages and pictures from Jeju to Okinawa here.
1. Gangjeong Villagers’ Unity Day
There was a Gangjeong villagers’ Unity Day event amid the rainy afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 25. The event started at 5 pm. About 30~40 villagers gathered in rain coats. The villagers marched to the Jeju naval base project committee building complex with the flags that read ‘no naval base,’ and ‘The Civilian-Military Complex Port for Tour Beauty is a FRAUD.”
In front of the committee building complex, mayor Kang Dong-Kyun said, “We should call it not the base project committee but a fraud group.” He also emphasized villagers’ task to inherit the Gangjeong stream nearby it to their descendants as it is, without environmental contamination by the destruction of naval base-building.
There was a lecture by Prof. Cho Young-Bae, a Gangjeong native and currently a reverend, too. The subject was about the ‘co-existence and harmony’ for the Gangjeong community. He said the importance of saving community beside the task of stopping the naval base project. His speech reflected villagers’ greatest pain of broken community between con and pro on the Jeju naval base project.
The village proud of 400 years old history had been well preserved of its traditions: Respecting elders and caring children through various traditional community events. However, one of such most exemplary communities has suffered near for six years by now because of conflict and division between the con and pro opinions on the naval base. Almost every villager became to have their opponents within the members of their family or relatives.
It is worthy to note that the Jeju has relatively well preserved the protocol of traditional Korean culture and spirit. The community spirit has been expressed in a word, ‘Sooneuleum (수눌음),’ a Jeju dialect.
‘In the spirit of Souneuleum, people help those of the sick, with no parents and disable first. All share their stuffs for the people in poor and difficult situation. It is the tradition of Jeju to overcome its barren nature environment [of wind and stone] and to live together for more than a thousand year…Sooneuleum is a kind of exchange work that is called as Pooamashi(품앗이) by which people help in rotation one another in fishery, agriculture and cattle breeding . “While Pooamashi needs compensation in exchange, the Sooneulem is based on ‘no condition,’ in helping the people in difficult situation.” (Han Gong-Ik, President of Jeju branch, Korean Culture Centers’ Association) (Source: Click here)
Prof. Cho Young- Bae says it is not the navy that we should really fight against. It is more of struggle against self-righteousness and exclusiveness inside us. We should not hate the betrayers like Mr. Yoon Tae-Jung, ex-mayor of the village who betrayed majority of villagers who are opposing the naval base project, but criticize their crimes of self-righteousness and exclusiveness that contradicts to the spirit of co-existence and harmony, Prof. Cho emphasized.
In the kitchen, village women cooked warm meals of boiled pork (a traditional Jeju food) and Bibimbab, a meal of rice mixed with vegetables.
After the meal, there was a performance of Korean traditional music by professional performers.
2. Song concert by the Gangjeong Flower band
The diligent Gangjeong flower band never takes rest. Visiting and consoling the three key spots of the village (Natgiriso, the sacred source of the Gangjeong stream; Gangjeong port; and construction gates near the Gangjeong stream), the band sang for life and peace. You can here their recent song titled ‘Kimbab from the Paradise ‘that calls for whole budget cut on the Jeju naval base project.
Here is a short remark by a member of the band. “We just finished part 2 of our music concert in the Gangjeong port. People lie, sit or stand and say hello to the Gureombi Rock. We are the ones who love the Gureombi Rock in each one’s own way.“(Hwang Hyun-Jin, post on Nov. 25)
3. We don’t want to confront against foreign workers
News from the protest field around 3:10 am on Nov. 26 (Fwd. translated)
‘During the weekend, the construction(destruction) inside the naval base project area was continued. The villagers and activists are keeping the gate 24 hours. It was this dawn (around 3 am) when only two people were in the gate: Workers and thugs brought about 10 Vietnamese workers who roughed out us. Imagine that we are surrounded by 10 Vietnamese workers who seldom know the situation and with whom language communication is not possible. The Vietnamese friends say to us smiling us ‘hello’ in Korean as if they think it is a play. How horrible I felt on it to face their pure eyes.
A knocking situation. Two of us tied our bodies to a lumber with a chain saying to them no vehicle should enter until this situation is informed to the responsible personnel in the construction site and police promise us no recurrence of such situation. Not to mention illegality of construction, the companies order foreign workers to do such job which has been done by the police. I hate to think of any possible violent situation [in which I face against the foreign workers)
The beginning of long week after a weekend break like X-mas started again.’ (Park Yong-Sung)
4. A story by a graduate of the ROK Military Academy
Mr. Song Chang-Wook is a graduate of the ROK Military Academy. He was admitted to it as the top in its passing examination more than 25 years ago. He is a strong and cheerful peace activist now. He has been arrested many times for his non-violent protest to stop the construction vehicles in front of the naval base construction gates. He tells a remarkable story.
‘In Seoul, I happen to be invited to dinner by my same year graduate friends in the ROK military Academy. I ran by taxi to Itaewon (* A part of the Itaewon is very popular among the United States military personnel, known as the GI town. See here). I told to my friends on the reasons of opposition against the Jeju naval base project. My friends are currently working in the Defense Security Command, Aviation Operations Command, Graduate School of Korea National Defense University, ROK-US Combined Forces Command. And one of my friends has worked in the trade business in the past. They looked very shocked by my telling. They told me they have been never aware how the project is being driven in such shameful ways.
A friend told me that the Graduate School of Korea National Defense University (KNDU) has formed a relationship with the Gangjeong elementary school tens of years ago. According to him, one day a man who claims himself as a village representative ( * It is very likely that the man was ex-village mayor, Yoon Tae-Jung) came to the KNDU and appealed to them to please help him saying that ‘professional protesters,’ from the outside have come to the village and make propaganda to and divide the villagers while the villagers desperately want the naval base construction. So my friend who have thought that the situation the man told was true told me that he was sorry to hear me. My friends told me that they are my side and encouraged me. Even though I am tired to drink with them, I feel warmhearted by their words. We should make more efforts to spread truth following my friends’ advice.” (Song Chang-Wook around 2 am, Nov. 26)
5. Solidarity in Japan, Iwakuni and Nagoya (Post by Yoshio Nakamura on Nov. 24 and 25)
Mr. Kim Jong Il, member of Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea, showed his solidarity to people in Iwakuni who oppose consolidation of US bases there. He spoke about history of military relationship between US and South Korea and up-date of struggle against naval base on Jeju during AWC-Japan’s anti-US base rally in Iwakuni on November 23-24 (Post by Yoshio Nakamura on Nov. 24)
Mr. Kin Jong-Ill shared anti-naval base struggle on Jeju in Nagoya, Japan (November 25, 2012)
6 Gangnam style???…pfff……Gangjeong
Visit her great blog that includes wonderful pictures and stories on the current struggle against the naval base. Click here
Gangjeong Style from Carol Rekinga on Vimeo.
7. The nature as it is