By Kaia Curry
[On] December 13, 2018, about 40 participants from a variety of civil society organizations gathered at Alddreu Airfield, and before holding a memorial for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, Mun-hee Oum led a visit to the massacre site at Seotal Oreum (volcanic cone). On August 20, 1950, Korean marines massacred 252 Jeju civilians who had been detained in the ‘preventive custody’ scheme, suspected of potential sympathy for North Korea, shooting them one by one and burying them in the remains of a Japanese ammunition facility. The memorial participants walked from Seotal Oreum carrying white carnations to one of the airplane hangars at Alddreu Airfield which holds an iron frame representing a Japanese warplane.
Joyakgol opened the memorial ceremony with the song “World Without Patriots” and participants held a moment of silence and laid white carnations in front of the airplane hangar. St. Francis Peace Center director Jeong Seon-nyeo (Joan of Arc) read a message from Satoko Oka Norimatsu, sharing the solidarity of Japanese Canadians who were inspired by the memorial in Jeju to hold their own Nanjing massacre memorial in Vancouver on December 11th. Representatives of the Korea-Vietnam Peace Foundation, the Seongsan committee opposing the Jeju Second Airport Project, the Daejeong Women Farmers’ Association, and the Nuclear Free Jeju Citizen’s Meeting shared their solidarity greetings. Jo Ahae of the People Making Jeju a Demilitarized Peace Island shared a summary of the open forum on December 12 which included a keynote overviewing 20th century militarism’s effects on Jeju’s peace, and short presentations connecting the concept of demilitarization with the experience of Jeju islanders, feminism, the militarization of space, and the role of prophets to denounce war Hwang HyunJin of Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace of the Sea and Noh Min-gyu of People Making Jeju a Demilitarized Peace Island read this joint statement to close the memorial ceremony:
Jeju 1937-2018: Remembering the 81st Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre
Today we remember the massacre. From this day in 1937 and for the next six weeks the Japanese Imperial forces mercilessly massacred a number which is heartbreaking to estimate: the lives of 300,000 Nanjing citizens were lost. That year beginning in August the Japanese Navy used Alddreu Airfield as a stopover on the on the way to bomb key Chinese cities such as Nanjing. [Many] Jeju citizens were forcibly recruited to build the airfield.
After this massacre (which started) by these bombings, about 13 years later, at nearby Seotal Oreum in the site of the former Japanese encampment, 252 “preventive detainees” were killed by state violence. This happened as part of the period of the 4.3 Uprising and Massacre. We walked on that road today; the road to the massacre base which foreshadowed another massacre.
What is different in Jeju in 1937 and in 2018? Despite protest from the residents, Jeju Navy Base was built. The international Fleet Review was conducted with the participation of 40 warships including a US nuclear aircraft carrier. This year marks thirty years after the Song-ak-san Air Force Base opposition struggle and the struggle against the landfill at Tapdong, but as soon as Governor Won Hee-ryong announced that ‘the Ministry of National Defense-Jeju Province-JDC co-prosperity agreement was decided, with plans to make Alddreu airfield a field of peace,’ didn’t he also carry out plans to quietly enforce the Seongsan Second Airport Project? (* JDC=Jeju Free International City Development Center)
Once again without regard for our [will] or decision, isn’t this the way to get involved in future massacres again? The island residents are constantly marginalized from important decisions affecting the region, excluded and consigned to be tools. If we cast aside the responsibility for making history, what kind of help are we to the pain of the next generations? Today we remember the lives of the victims. Today, we remember the massacre.
We demand to the national and Jeju provincial governments:
Apologize to the citizens of Nanjing for the massacre in which we were involved, although against our wishes!
The Ministry of National Defense must immediately return the Alddreu Airfield land to the citizens of Daejeong!
Immediately close the Jeju Navy Base (Jeju Civilian Military Complex Port for Tour Beauty)!
Immediately withdraw the plans for the construction of the Jeju Second Airport (Air Force Base)!
Immediately stop the plans to enlarge the Bijarim road which is connected as a route to the Jeju Second Airport (Air Force Base)!
Immediately stop the for-profit hospital and all the over-development which destroys the [ecology] and community of Jeju!
Immediately stop all the militarization of Jeju and make it a genuine peace island!
Apologize to the people and government of Vietnam for the Korean involvement in massacres in the war in Vietnam!
Apologize for the Korean involvement in the Yemeni War and guarantee recognition of refugee status for all Yemeni refugees!
December 13, 2018
People Making Jeju a Demilitarized Peace Island
Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace of the Sea
Sponsoring Organizations: Gangjeong International Team, Gangjeong Village Art Gallery, Gangjeong Village Anti-Navy Base Committee, Gangjeong Friends, The Frontiers, Daejeong Women Farmer’s Association, Nuclear Free Jeju! Citizen’s Meeting, St. Francis Peace Center, Jeju Dark Tours, Seongsan committee opposing the Jeju Second Airport Project, Jeju Queer Cultural Festival Committee, Martyr Yang Yong Chan Memorial Committee, Choroc-ssi Green Seed, Hotpinkdolphins