At Gureombi seashore off Gangjeong village in Seogwipo City, Jejudo, the conflict among people who are trying to preserve and blast the shore is deepening every day.
Guroembi rock is a 1.2 km long, and 250m wide rock, broad and flat. The group supporting the construction of Jeju naval base and police are joining forces to start blasting, asserting Gureombi is kind of a rock that can be seen anywhere on the seashore of Jeju. Some experts insist, however, that this rock is a valuable natural relic that is more than 30,000 years old. Gangjeong residents and activists are strongly resisting, asserting that the construction of Jeju naval base will destroy the environment, lives, and natural heritage.
While the residents and activists were protesting against the Gureombi blasting on Monday afternoon, about 20 people among them were arrested by police. Police is now investigating 16 of those arrested for impending performance of duty.
National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island held a candlelight rally at Cheonggye plaza last Saturday, urging for the cancellation of the construction of Jeju naval base. The participants of the Saturday’s rally include Democratic United Party’s senior advisor Chung Dong-young, Rep. Lee Jong-gul, and Baek Ki-wan, the director of the Research Institute of Unification Affairs.
About 1000 people gathered for the rally shared the supporting spirit while checking the situation in Gangjeong village through a phone connection.
“Today, about 20 citizens and activists operating in Gangjeong has come over to the Ganjeong seashore,” said one of the peace activists. “Despite the blockade and anti-humane violence of Police, maintaining the heat of nationwide struggle for Gangjeong village is unstoppable.”
The citizens gathered held up their candles, strongly demanding the government and navy to stop blasting while supporting the protesters to “hang in there.”
One of the citizens who went on the stage made a sharp comment on the Saenuri Party emergency committee chairwoman Geun-hye Park saying, “Mentioning often about Gangjeong village and KOR-US FTA, Rep. Park is trying to take advantage of this issue for the general election. We should get an accurate picture of her intension, and see through her conspiracy.”
“Although the construction of Jeju naval base is said to be a matter of national defense to secure peace, police beating and arresting citizens shows that there is no more peace,” said Kim Jin-ae, a university student. “The construction of Jeju naval base is just like a battle disguising as a peace.”
“I went to Gangjeong village, and I could tell the situation is not going well. While the navy tried to transport the explosives, protesters blocked their way, holding a sit-in. Although the intense fight between both sides was still going on, residents of Ganjeong revealed strong confidence of victory over frustration and anger,” said yoon-ho Lee, a participant of a DUP’s proportional representative plan for those aged between 25 and 35. “Let us gather strength to support the residents of Gangjeong village, until they recover peace in the area.”
Ji-yoon Kim, who had fueled the controversy over her mention of ‘pirate base,’ clarified her position at the CBS FM radio show, ‘Hyun-jeong Kim’s News Show,’ Monday morning.
“I didn’t intend to refer the entire navy and military personnel as pirates. I was just trying to criticize the brutality committed by the leading members of navy and government in Ganjeong village, comparing it to a pirate,” she said. “Those authorities are trying to witch-hunt in order to calm down the criticizing media. The current statement of the navy or Cultural Heritage Administration asserting the Gureombi rock is a geographical feature easily spotted in Jeju island, differs from the statement of 2007, which shows the government is switching its opinion.”
She went on to say, “The naval authority needs to understand first why I and Ganjeong residents are using the term pirate base, why we are criticizing the authority this harsh.”
Won-soon Park, the Seoul Mayor also indirectly expressed his opposing opinion Monday on the construction of Jeju naval base.
On Monday morning, Park took time out to visit the Seoul Grand Park. There he announced the plan to suspend the performance of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins that were allegedly caught illegally, and set one of them free at the Gureombi seashore in Jeju.
“The 13-year-old Jedol in Seoul Grand Park should be at Jejudo where Mt. Hanla and Gureombi are. After considering the opinions of experts and citizens, we will successfully set the aquarium’s dolphin free for the first time in Korean history. You will support me, right?” wrote Park via twitter.
Some are insisting that the mention of Park reveals his intention to support the groups and the opposition party opposing the construction of naval base in Ganjeong.
HyoJin Cha, Reporter email@example.com
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