Objections mount against Jeju naval base plans
: Opposition sharpened with the retraction of the cited strategic location as the basis for construction
Posted on : May.9,2011 11:34 KST
By Huh Ho-joon, Senior Staff Writer
Residents of Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island’s Seogwipo, the planned site for a naval base, along with civic and social organizations, are resolutely objecting to and calling for a reexamination of the construction plan.
This objection has been rising since the Ministry of National Defense effectively withdrew the “ocean navy strategy” it had cited as a reason for building the base.
Ko Gweon-il, chairman of a committee on measures to opposite the base’s construction, urged the scrapping of the plan, calling the move “proof that the construction of the Jeju naval base is not a key effort for national security.”
Peace groups have been staying in the village since March lending their support to villagers who have been engaged in a difficult battle for over three years. Life Peace, which kicked off a 100-day “life and peace” pilgrimage around the Korean Peninsula on March 1 at Jeju’s April 3 Peace Park, altered its plans and decided to stay in Gangjeong Village waging an opposition campaign. The group’s secretary-general, Jeon Jin-taek, said, “The decision was made because it seemed that what Gangjeong Village needs and longs for most is life and peace.”
Since his April 6 arrest, former Korean Association of Film Critics Chairman Yang Yoon-mo has been waging a hunger strike in prison to bring an end to the construction, a campaign that marked its 31st day Friday. Former Jeju Governor Shin Goo-beom, who recently participated in a coordinated hunger strike for ten days on the coast of Gangjeong Village, said, “Now that the ocean navy strategy has been abandoned, the naval base construction is nothing more than a naval bulk-increasing effort using national security as a pretext.”
Since Gangjeong VIllage’s selection as the site of the base construction in May 2007, residents have been caught in a fierce conflict. Fifty-year-old female villager “H” said, “The conflict is so severe that people who were on good terms before are now using third parties to send condolence money and celebration money.” Another resident said, “The village community has been utterly destroyed through resident conflicts, all kinds of complaints and accusations, fines, and so forth.”
Residents and groups are particularly determined to prevent damages to Gureombi Rock, a village landmark. This rock, which makes up park of the shoreline in front of the village, is a broad lava structure measuring over 800 meters long.
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