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)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jeju: Monday - High and Low (reflection from Larry Kerschner)

Villagers cheered this morning when they heard the results of the governors election in Okinawa. The newly elected governor of Okinawa has stated that he will veto any permit for a new US military base in Okinawa. There is a growing solidarity among nations of north east Asia concerning the opposition to US military bases.

Several of us were offered the opportunity to present the homily at mass today. This was my homily: Humbled are those who are able to read the truth aloud. Blessed are those who can hear the message of life and can take it into their hearts. The continuing struggle against the agents of death at Gangjeong is like a tangerine tree planted next to running water. It will yield its fruit in due time. Those who can remain patient and steadfast, despite the apparent strength of the opposition, will surely, in time, once again the sweet taste of community. A community in which a gentle non-violent spirit reigns in every house and in the hearts of all the people. (The lying, bribery and duplicity of the Navy has separated some in the village.)

Fr. Kim giving communion during Mass at the gate.
After meeting with the head of the village resistance committee I now have a better understanding of what has happened here. I mentioned before about the secret meetings and bribery that the Navy used to get an agreement to build the base here. I was wrong when I previously stated that the population of the village is 5000; when intact it's actually about 2000. The resistance here was so effective in the beginning that the national police actually sent 2000 police officers to occupy this village on Jeju Island. They intimidated the villagers on a daily basis and arrested many of the leaders. The police occupation lasted for several years. There were a number of national environmental laws that should have protected this area, however the Navy decided to ignore all of those laws. The Korean court system essentially told the people here that they would just have to live with it even though they recognized that these were some illegal actions on the part of the Navy. It appears that South Korea is no more of a nation under law than the United States is when it comes to issues between those in power and the people.

I mentioned earlier that the governor was going to try to get the Navy to move the Naval housing to someplace outside of the village. While we were eating dinner tonight a Korea news program came on in which it was announced that the Navy today refused the governor's request. The villagers are clearly getting tired of fighting the Navy so it will be interesting to see how they respond to this news.

Larry Kerschner

Editor's Note: Per Larry's reference to the election in Okinawa, here is yesterday's news on the subject from the BBC: US base opponent wins Okinawa governor poll

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