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)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jeju: A reflection from Larry Kerschner

Editor's Note: Here is a reflection from Larry Kerschner, a member of the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation to Jeju (originally posted on November 13th as a comment on Facebook).


Once again I am displaced in time and place. The Jeju Island Naval base is a blight on the southern end of a beautiful island. This naval base is nominally South Korean but it is clear to anyone with any sense that this will in fact be part of the American empire military system. The people of Jeju island won't forget that somewhere between 30 and 70,000 people were killed here on Jeju island in 1948 by Korean troops under American command or directly by American troops. Their crime was wanting to have some say in their own future by having an election that would discuss the question of reunification of the south and the north. In the eyes of the Americans that made them communist and were thus liable for capital punishment. Yesterday we attended the April 3 massacre museum that documents the atrocities committed against the people of Jeju island. The United States still refuses to release all of the documentation of what happened here on this island just after the Second World War.

Jeju April 3rd Peace Memorial Hall
The sadness from looking at the various exhibits was palpable. This was part of the early occupation and domination of the South Korean people by the United States. The Chinese left Korea in 1958 in the United States still has 23,000 troops occupying South Korea. We start each morning with 100 bows meditation in front of the main gate of the base that's being built. Later in the day we take part in a Catholic mass/road block aid. We block the gates by sitting in chairs and the police allow us to sit there for a period of time and then they come and physically pick up the chairs with a sitting in them and move us out of the way so that trucks can come and go. This happens five or six times in a row and then the protesters proceed to dance and gyrate in the streets for quite a bit of time after receiving communion. Today for the first time and announcement was made in the English to the effect that foreigners who did not remove themselves from blocking the gate when told to do so by the police were subject to forcible deportation. However there was no apparent follow up that threat. Today we met with Mr. Yang Yeun Mol Who has spent a total of 400+ days in prison for demonstrating against the base. During his prison sentences he went on three fasts lasting 76, 35 and 45 days. He is a famous theater critic here in South Korea and has given up that livelihood in order to spend his whole life protesting against the naval base.

Larry Kerschner

Larry with Fr. Mun shortly after arriving on Jeju Island

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