The Jeju Grand March(July 30 to Aug. 4) and international fleet review(Oct. 10 to 14, 2018)
On Aug. 4, the Jeju Grand March for Life and Peace 2018 which started on July 30 made a big finish with a statement for peace and solidarity. This year’s theme was “From Gangjeong to Seongsan: Peace, Let’s Walk Together.” Unlike most marches of last years in which we walked through the coast of whole Island in the two groups of eastward and westward teams starting from Gangjeong and finishing in Jeju City, this year’s march focused on the two spots of Jeju: Gangjeong where the Jeju navy base was built in 2016 and Seongsan where the 2nd Jeju airport(air base) is planned. Another difference was that we shortened march from a week into three days while instead having three days’ camp in Seongsan.
For more photos of march, see here
We were blessed to have many special friends from overseas: Hawaii, Hongkong, Okinawa, Taiwan and United States etc.. Many of them had also joined inter-Island Solidarity for Peace of Sea camp in Jeju from July 25 to 29. We also had great guests-the grandmothers and activists of Soseong-ri, Seongsan where the anti-THAAD campaign is constantly and daily going on.
However, the march and camp were done also with the heavy heart because of the issue of fleet review.
On July 31, the next day of beginning of march, the chief of naval operation, South Korea, declared to have a fleet review in Jeju in coming October. Despite villagers’ decision to oppose a fleet review in Jeju on March 30, this year, the navy has intervened to change villagers’ opinion. And in July, the President Moon Jae-in’s Presidential House openly intervened to change villagers’ opinion by sending Presidential House Secretaries and top navies at least four times to the village. As a result, the Gangjeong village association who had made March 30 decision but was ready to be deceived by sugar-coting words of government officers and navies held another general meeting on July 29 to ask villagers’ opinion on fleet review again. The result was overwhelmingly in favor of fleet review as the participants for the meeting were mostly those who are ready to compromise to the navy with false prmises. On the day, the anti-base villagers’ association boycotted the meeting and vote, saying the July 29 meeting is in violation of a village principle of ‘not deliberating the same measure twice.’ Instead its representatives filed a lawsuit claiming the procedure of another vote for same issue is wrong and the vote itself should be cancelled. The same group strongly criticized the Presidential House! Yes. It is the same government who made the April 27 inter-Korean Summit meeting but emphasized the US-led ‘alliance’ in July!
(It was last December that Kang Hee-bong, a navy-compromising villager won over Go Gwon-il, an anti-baser and former vice-mayor of village association. On the day’s vote, Kang had mobilized lots of people in the village who have never appeared in the anti-base movement).
The Island Council is also complicit to the deeds of Presidential House and navy. Originally, its whole 43 council members had unanimously signed to submit the draft for the resolution against the fleet review in Jeju. However, later on July 19, it abruptly postponed to submit the draft. It was the next day of July 18 when Lee Yong-seon, a secretary of Presidential House visited Jeju and met Kang and other villagers to deliver the opinion of Presidential House. For centuries, the central government in Korea made a colony of Jeju. For me, these whole current scenes just remind such painful and oppressed history of Jeju.
Moreover, the navy says there would be a US nuclear aircraft carrier during the international fleet review in Jeju from Oct. 10 to 14! And around 100 warships including 30 foreign warships would join for military show on the Jeju Sea during the time destroying already suffering ocean environmet! For whom, this disastrous fleet review is held, especially upon the 70th year of Jeju April 3rd when at least 30,000 Islanders were killed under the order of US Army military government? Who are the beneficiaries? What is the meaning of this anachronistic militarism? We will not give up! The fleet review, a parade of warships, should be stopped! Please say to your government. Jeju doesn’t want warships from your country! And Hawaii friends are right to say they don’t want warships from South Korea during the RIMPAC which is now being held in Hawaii for two months! We should not exchange warships but friendship for peace and life!