Strategically located, Jeju Island is 60 miles off the southern coast of South Korea. It faces China to the east and Japan to the west. The Republic of Korea (ROK) is building one of the largest naval bases in the world on Jeju Island in Gangjeong Village, a small fishing village of about 1,900 citizens. The Base due to be operational in 2014 will host 20 warships, submarines and Aegis Destroyers “integrated within the US Missile Defense System”. South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak announced commitments in 2008 and 2009 to purchase and deploy a fleet of Aegis destroyers equipped with U. S. anti-ballistic missile and radar systems, built jointly by Hyundai and Lockheed Martin.

The Base is being built on a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2007), a Biosphere Reserve (2002) and Global Geological Park (2010). Since 2007, citizens have been valiantly and vigorously protesting the construction of the Naval Base, risking their lives to protect their environment from the forces of the military industrial complex. Citizens claim their consent was not obtained in a fair democratic process and would like Jeju to “contribute for national interests and security as ‘Peace Zone of North East Asia’ and not as a military base.”

Jeju was designated an “Island of World Peace” on January 27, 2005 by the Korean government. This designation was in recognition of the “April 3, Massacre” that occurred from 1948-1954. An estimated 60,000 innocent civilians were killed and 230 villages were destroyed, under the leadership of Syngman Rhee. After WW II, Korea was occupied by US military forces in the South and Russian forces in the North. In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly declared elections should be held to reunite Korea. A national assembly administered by the UN elected Syngman Rhee, president of the Republic of Korea, which was formed on August 15. Northern Korean Communists opposed this idea and on September 9, announced the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In the 1980’s the Truth Commission on Jeju was established and on November 31, 2003, President Roh Moo-hyn gave an official apology to “the survivors and to all Jeju residents for the faults of the national power in the past. We have to spread the universal value of peace and human rights for all human beings by learning from the precious lessons of the Jeju April 3rd incident.”

It is so important to support the Gangjeong Villagers in their courageous struggle to oppose the construction of this naval base. The treasured places of beauty on the earth are being destroyed by the forces of militarism, once they are gone, we will not be able to replace them. We must show support for this nonviolent struggle of the Gangjeong Villagers and do all that we can. Visit the website