Gangjeong auf Cheju-do
Jeju’s future After the election
By Cheong Wook-Sik (Representative of Peace Network)
The candidate of the ruling conservative Saenuri Party, Park Geun-Hye, was elected [although there are still some doubts about the fairness of the election] in the South Korean presidential elections on Dec. 19, 2012. Park has expressed her position on Jeju as wishing to make it into a “2nd Hawai’i” and as part of that the Jeju Naval Base construction should be continued without delay. She has also expressed positive interest in ROK-US alliance and ROKJapan security cooperation, so it is expected that will lead to further elasticity of the ROK-US-Japan trilateral military alliance, desired by the US and Japan.
The United States already aiming to curb and contain China, has declared the “Asian Pivot” policy and has begun concentrating 60% of its naval forces into the Asia Pacific region, spurring arms sale buildups, including the Missile Defense system. Japan, using the conflict of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese) as its excuse is also stepping up its retrogressive revision of its Peace Constitution, pushing for more aggressive military arms buildups.
The Jeju Naval base is being built in the center of several East Asian conflicts, heightening the danger that South Korea could be pulled into the US/Japan v. China conflicts. This is one reason why Park needs to totally examine the base construction from the viewpoint of peace on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
The reality is that even the smallest procedural justice is being violated through the naval base construction which is far from the “citizens’ unity” that Park has emphasized. The National Assembly approved the 200.9 billion won 2013 Jeju naval base budget but attached three collateral conditions which must be executed and reported back to the National Assembly within 70 days: First, the base should be proven to not be primarily a military or military only port; second, the ability to entry for 150,000 cruises must be verified; and third, clarify the rights of official regulation on the harbor and coverage of maintenance & repair costs. However, the Ministry of National Defense and navy are completely ignoring the conditions of the National Assembly and have continued forcing the construction even up until this very moment.
The infuriated Gangjeong villagers and people from civil society groups have sent Park a number of inquiries and requested meetings with her, but all have been consistently neglected. The reality is that the end of the suffering of the Gangjeong villagers, already at 6 years, is not visible yet. Now is the time for urgent support and participation from peace activists and those in solidarity with Gangjeong village, both domestically and abroad.