Letter from Jeju Island

Caption: Villagers and Protestors chant for the release of village leader Kang on Jeju island during the events described below

This letter was sent out by Paco this morning in an email to supporters of the campaign to Save Jeju Island in South Korea. I’m posting it under Paco’s author account here on YAR – TimN

Hello Again,

Things have gotten very crazy around here. Yesterday we had a 10 hour long stand off against around 300 riot police. I apologize for bad grammer and spelling but I’m very tired.

Here is a short summary of the last 23 hours of our still on going struggle. If you want to follow more closely, as well as see pictures and videos, check the facebook links that I gave you before [http://www.facebook.com/groups/Saveprofyang/], or if you are a twitterer follow #gangjung or #savejejuisland (many of the posts are in korean but there are also pictures)

None of this is sensitive information so it can be shared freely.

Shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday the navy/police made what we believe to be a trap to arrest Village Leader Kang. They began assembling an illegal crane in the construction area. This led Village Leader Kang and several activists and village people to the area where they began to argue that this crane was illegal. As Village Leader Kang climbed on the crane, the police immediately came claiming that he was “interfering with public business” (the charge most people get arrested with). The police where very organized and knew what they were doing, which leads us to believe that it was a trap. The siren sounded and the village people began to gather. Then began a long struggle to prevent the arrest of Mayor Kang. Finally though he was arrested along with the four other activists (reasons for their arrests are still not entirely clear, although likely to be resisting arrest or interference with business) and moved into the navy office. At that time, the village people and protestors began to block off all exits from the construction site. I’m not good at estimating numbers but perhaps around 300 riot police were called in and the stand off began. They tried to sneak the village leader out a side entrance but were caught and the stand off moved from the main construction gate to the middle of the road. Cars were brought in to block the exits and the village people surrounded the police while the police surrounded the police van with the village leader inside.

The stand off lasted until 11 p.m. at which point a negotiation occurred between a priest and the police. It was agreed that the priest would drive Village Leader Kang to the police station but that all arrested people would be released that night. Also it was agreed that the police would stay in Gangjeong until they returned. However both of these promises were broken by the police. They forced their way out around 30 minutes later and the stand off was finished. Finally many people moved to Seogwipo Police Station (about 10 minutes away) to await the release of the prisoners. But it never happened and many people spent the night on the street. In the morning they resumed their protest calling the police to fulfill their promises and not be liars. But the police did not do this. Instead 2 prisoners were released and three more, including Village Leader Kang were transfered to the main police station in Jeju City (about an hour away). During the transfer 400 riot police came to help the car leave the station. During this elderly priest, Father Moon was arrested, his clothes torn, and his cane broken.

The situation here is very tense. People are very tired from the long struggle yesterday and the long night last night. They are also very angry at the police’s underhanded and violent tactics and their lies and broken promises. They have been lied to again and again by the government, the navy, and the police.

Thanks for praying and sharing this with others. I know that explanation was very short but I hope it will at least keep you up to date. Again if you are interested in knowing more please join the facebook groups (http://www.facebook.com/groups/Saveprofyang/) or follow the twitters that I mentioned (http://twitter.com/?q=Jeju#!/search?q=%23jeju).

Comments (2)

  1. TimN

    I like how the Amish pirate is peering down from above on the scene of riot police and villagers.

  2. Paco

    Thanks for posting this Tim. If I get some time I will try to update and give people a clearer picture of what’s happening. I would like to add that I love you recent post about Bio-regionalism and that it ties directly in with this. The people here are not fighting for abstract environmentalism but for a very specific place. The rocks and fresh water springs called, “Gureumbi” which the people consider filled with life and and healing power. These rocks are actually one big rock and it sits on the edge of the joongduk sea. This living rock, Gureumbi and this sea, Joongduk, are what the people are fighting to save from being paved over with cement for a navy base in a sick, but all to usual, conglomeration of corporate and state power and theft.

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