I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Protest at Seattle Korean Consulate to Save Jeju Island

Twenty-five peace activists held a peaceful protest at the Seattle South Korean Consulate on Monday, April 30th to voice their concern over the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula.

Located strategically in the Korea Strait, Jeju Island’s potential to become a military target in the event of an armed conflict in this tense region would increase greatly with the addition of a naval base.  Many observers of the region believe that the Jeju Island naval base will serve as a port of call for the U.S. military’s sea-based component of its ballistic missile defense system.

Since plans for the naval base were announced five years ago, 94 percent of Gangjeong residents have voted against the base and used every possible democratic means to block its construction in their village.  Gangjeong is surrounded by three UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites and nine UNESCO Geo-Parks on an island that is designated a Global Biosphere Reserve.

While most of the activists protested on the sidewalk in front of the building housing the Consulate, others went up to the Consulate offices and asked to meet with the Consul General.  After some negotiation the Consul General agreed to meet with three representatives of the protesters.

Consul General Young Wan Song presented the group with a sheet with talking points on the Jeju Island naval base. Song stressed that the base has no connections to the U.S. military and that “there are no plans to use the base for U.S. missile defense…” He also stated that “the base construction site was selected through legitimate process”, and that “the project will have no effect on the environment.” (Note: Sansung is the lead contractor for the project).

April 30, 2012 at Seattle Korean Consulate (Photo Credit: Kip Kania)

Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, who was present at the protest countered that “Republic of Korea (ROK) destroyers with missile defense systems will be guided and directed by US military satellite systems. Any visiting US Aegis destroyers will be outfitted with missile defense systems. Several ROK mainstream news articles have contained acknowledgements that US warships (aircraft carriers, submarines, and Aegis destroyers) will be ported in Gangjeong.”

Many experts believe China is the primary focus of the new base on Jeju Island.  China has recently expressed its concern about U.S. missile defense efforts.  According to a recent article about china urging the U.S. and Russia to make drastic cuts in their nuclear arsenals:

"Beijing also says that Washington should not disrupt the global strategic balance by developing missile defense systems.  This was a possible reference to Pentagon’s recent revelations of its plans to deploy elements of its global missile defense shield in Asia and the Middle East.  A similar antimissile system in Europe is one of stumbling blocks in Russia-US relations."

The protest was initiated by Jeju Island artist and peace activist Gillchun Koh, whose work was exhibited at a Seattle art gallery last month. Participants included members of Veterans for Peace and Sahngnoksoo, a Seattle-based organization of Koreans and Korean-Americans working for social change.


Watch a video (taken during the Consulate protest) by Michael Jacobsen, member of Veterans for Peace, who recently spent three months in Jeju Island.  It contains messages of support for those on Jeju Island involved in the struggle to stop the naval base.


Click here to read the talking points sheet provided by the Consul General (PDF file was scanned from the original document).

Bruce Gagnon talking with
Korean Consular official
(Photo by Charles Espey)
Here are responses to each of the Consul General's talking points by Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

1.  ROK destroyers with MD systems will be guided and directed by US military satellite systems.  Any visiting US Aegis destroyers will be outfitted with MD systems.  Several ROK mainstream news articles have contained acknowledgements that US warships (aircraft carriers, subs, and Aegis destroyers) will be ported in Gangjeong.

2.  94% of Gangjeong villagers voted no against the Navy base.  The Jeju Island assembly has asked for a halt to construction as has the island governor.  All have been ignored by the Navy and President Lee.

3.  The Navy is already dredging the sea bed to make it possible for the big US warships to enter the port.  Just offshore are UNESCO recognized endangered soft coral reefs that will be destroyed in this process.  Already the ocean is being polluted from runoff from Samsung's blasting of the rocky coastline.


Additional Reading: US missile shield branches into Asia, Middle East, RT.com, March 27, 2012

Editors Note:  You can dowload the photos at the source by clicking here.

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