- Together with South Korea, America's military plans expanding
its Asian footprint on Jeju Island with a strategic naval base for Aegis
class attack ships. They're equipped with sophisticated SM-3 interceptor
missiles intended mainly for offense, as well as powerful computers and
tracking radar for first-strike capability against enemy targets.
- In 2002, Seoul announced construction plans to accommodate
Pentagon planners despite strong local opposition. Located south of Korea
proper, Jeju Island is its only special autonomous province, situated in
the Korea Strait, Southwest of Jeollanam-do Province it separated from
- Japan lies Northeast, China due West. Jeju is in central
Northeast Asia, important for reasons other than military.
- Strategically located Southwest of Japan, East of China
between the East China Sea and Korea Strait shipping lanes, UNESCO declared
Jeju a World Natural Heritage Site in 2007 under the name Jeju Volcanic
Island and Lava Tubes. Korea has nine others chosen for their cultural
or natural importance to humanity's common heritage, vital to preserve
and protect, not used as launch pads for belligerence and destruction.
- In fact, former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun designated
Jeju a "peace island." It's also a popular tourist spot and home
to rare sea life, a VisitKorea.or.kr site calling it a "Volcanic Island
full of Allure."
- During WW II, Japan stationed 75,000 soldiers there.
The Pentagon later planned to use it strategically, today with another
naval base cooperatively with South Korea and Japan against China's military
presence, as well as perhaps interdicting its ability to import oil, much
of which comes through Yellow Sea shipping lanes.
- According to a 2009 Pentagon report, China's naval forces
are formidable, numbering 260 vessels, including 75 or more major warships
and over 60 submarines. However, Beijing regards powerful US and South
Korean warships equipped with interceptor offensive missiles close to its
border a strategic threat. According to South Korea's Peace Network director
- "China regards missile defense as the 21st century's
greatest threat and is dissatisfied with US missile defense policy,"
knowing it targets them offensively.
- Lee Tae-ho, deputy secretary general of South Korea's
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, in fact, believes:
- "The Chines government has a response strategy that
first attacks US missile defense in the case of an emergency. That means
that the Jeju naval base will be targeted in an armed conflict between
the United States and China," or in case of one with Taiwan in which
- Short of war, an Asian arms race and popular opposition
are major bones of contention, reflected in a 2007 Geongjeong Village People's
Council vote showing 94% of residents against a naval base. They oppose
one disrupting their lives by environmental destruction (including soft
coral habitat), harming tourism, disrupting fishing, and displacing local
citrus growers by confiscating their land for militarism and potential
- Nonetheless, in May 2009, construction plans were approved
followed by dredging the Joongduk coastline to accommodate large warships.
As a result, several lawsuits were filed without success. On December 15,
2010, a Jeju court ruled building plans posed no infringement problems
despite clear evidence otherwise.
- As a result, villagers and supporters protested, including
on Christmas day 2010, blocking cement trucks brought in to pour concrete
over coral reefs vital to preserve. Moreover, local residents occupied
the site, facing off with police to stop cranes from dredging their cherished
shoreline for America, not their own country.
- Bruce Gagnon, co-founder and coordinator of the Global
Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, follows the base controversy
on two web sites:
- -- Space4peace.org; and
- -- Space4peace.blogspot.com.
- On May 19, he reported arrests of eight protest leaders,
including Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi for the second time
recently. Moreover, "Gangjeong village resident Professor Yang Yoon-Mo
(entered) his 45th day of his hunger strike while in jail for trying to
block a construction truck." He vowed to die there unless constructions
- Urging others offer support, he explained America's destabilizing
presence, contributing to regional militarism that could escalate to war.
He also included a letter from South Korea supporter Jungjoo Park, saying:
- Government security forces "are stepping up their
efforts to silence all opposition to the naval base. This morning, May
19, the construction companies came with their heavy equipment together
with around 100 members of the police and military" - specifically
to destroy a Jungdeok coast greenhouse. Villagers chained themselves to
it to stop them. Arrests followed. "Obviously the situation is still
- On June 1, Gagnon reported Professor Yang's release from
jail after his 60-day hunger strike. "He was sentenced to one and
one-half years in jail with a suspended sentence but with two years probation,"
an affront for trying to preserve, not destroy, life and environmental
- Widespread support helped free him weakened yet vowing
to persist, saying:
- "My struggle will be continued to the end. Gangjeong
villagers are the teacher who led me to the road of justice."
- Her hunger strike ended, Global Network's Sung-Hee Choi's
trial will begin June 10. The struggle against militarizing Jeju continues.
"Many NGOs in South Korea launched the 'Korean National Committee
against Jeju Naval Base Construction' on June 1."
- Gagnon continues daily commentaries, supporting Gangjeong
residents struggle to preserve the "endangered soft coral reefs and
a shoreline of remarkable beauty in this fishing and farming village."
- Imperial America opposes them for unchallenged global
dominance. Trampling on sovereign nations, humanity and environmental sanity,
it claims only its objectives matter, again proving it's a rogue out-of-control
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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