South Koreans against military environmental destruction

This is a video on Jeju island in South Korea.

By Nicole Erwin, Truthout:

Residents of Tourist Haven Fight Plans to Build Naval Base

Friday 26 August 2011

Jeju, South Korea – Home to orange groves and skin divers, this Northeast Asian vacation spot sometimes known as the “Island of Peace” may soon have new inhabitants: a South Korean naval base, believed by opponents to be US motivated, and a fleet of warships equipped with technology that could affect the security landscape of the entire region. Local residents and international groups alike have joined to protest the base’s ongoing construction in standoffs with police and Navy officers that continue to escalate. It’s this sense of inevitable violence that has since moved the South Korean government to some dialogue.

Samsung and Daelim were contracted by the South Korean Navy to build the base in the small village of Gangjeong. Construction began four years ago, but has since been hindered by acts of civil disobedience. At the center of this disobedience is village chief Kang Dong Kyun.

“Until the middle of August if something happens I will make a siren ring. When you hear the siren, we should be together; otherwise it is difficult to fight,” Kang said at the head of the table during an emergency meeting called on July 29 in anticipation of “D” day, the presumed arrival of hundreds of South Korean naval officers and local police to evict protesters. Police are stationed daily and often in force at the entrances to the protesters’ encampment. Riot shields have become a common sight in the village. …

Also at stake is the environmental impact of base construction. Jeju is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site contender in the New 7 Wonders campaign and home to the upcoming World Conservation Congress 2012.

The naval base construction site was once protected by the Jeju government as an “absolute protection area” because of the Gureombi, a collection of broad lava-formed rocks, a geographically important structure and home to numerous endangered species. The area is also the only natural dolphin habitat in the region.

Governor Woo removed the “absolute preservation area” status in order to allow construction of the naval base. The Jeju Council disagreed with this move, saying it was illegal and Gangjeong residents filed suit with the Jeju District Court. The court rejected the suit, claiming “there is no standing with citizens.” The case has since been appealed to the Supreme Court and will be heard within the year. If the Supreme Court sides with preservation, base construction will be forced to stop.

About the nature on Jeju island, from Wikipedia:

The flora at the Mt. Hallasan National Park is unique. 1,565 vascular plant species have been recorded in the area thus far and is the most number of plants in any mountain, 33 which are endemic to the island. Unlike most other Korean mountain environments, Hallsan has a unique vertical distribution of plants in three different zones: the subtropic, temperate, and frigid zones.

Over 17 mammals, 198 types of birds, 8 types of amphibians, 8 types of reptiles, and 947 insect species have been catalogued in the nature reserve. Endangered species include the Capreolus capreolus pygargus and Felis bengalensis manchuria.

Noam Chomsky | The Threat of Warships on an “Island of World Peace”. Noam Chomsky, Truthout: “Jeju Island is once again threatened by joint U.S.-South Korean militarization and violence: the construction of a naval base on what many consider to be Jeju’s most beautiful coastline…. The protest now taking place on Jeju counts as a critical struggle against a potentially devastating war in Asia, and against the deeply rooted institutional structures that are driving the world toward ever more conflict”: here,

US military officials apologised on Saturday in a bid to quell public outrage over two rapes allegedly committed by US soldiers in South Korea: here.

Local and municipal elections held in South Korea on October 26 were widely regarded as an important test of public opinion prior to next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The outcome revealed widespread political alienation, not only from the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) but also the opposition Democratic Party: here.

A South Korean court sentenced an American army private to ten years in prison on Tuesday for raping an 18-year-old South Korean woman: here.

A South Korean court jailed a US soldier for 10 years yesterday for the “sadistic and perverted” rape of a teenager at Dongducheon city: here.

10 thoughts on “South Koreans against military environmental destruction

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    After five weeks on strike, Standard Chartered (SC) First Bank-Korea employees have been ordered back to work by their union without a resolution to the dispute. The 2,800 bank employees walked off the job on June 22 in protest against company attempts to impose performance pay. The bank was forced to close 40 of its 400 branches during the strike.

    The SC bank union has directed members to stage “slowdowns” when they return to work on Monday and hold rallies every Friday until their requests are accepted. The union has refused to join a combined union-management task force to examine a modified wage proposal.

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