Walking for Peace on Jeju Island
August 1-5 2016
From: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes
Monday, August 1, 2016
Day 1: Jeju Peace Walk: The Start
We gathered at the new Navy base front gate this morning just after 8:00 am in
order to get registered for the six-day peace walk around Jeju Island, South
Korea. Many in the crowd walked down an entry road to the main gate that of
course was blocked off with higher than normal security standing guard while
military music blasted out for all to hear.
We walked 11.5 miles today in the high heat and the hot top (what Boston folks call the asphalt) only made it worse – sort of like walking for six hours through a steam room. Everyone was sweating but it was remarkable to see our large group stay together the whole way – especially so because many families came from the Korean mainland and brought their small children and they walked the entire way.
The food was prepared by teams of volunteers back in Gangjeong village and trucked out to us for lunch and dinner. During breaks and lunch the iconic Catholic priest Fr. Mun joined us hobbling around with his cane but still inspiring people as he as done in virtually every progressive movement in South Korea for many, many years.
A van with a sound system (which included three speakers on top and two big ones in the back of the van) led the walk with its back door open blasting music to keep us singing and dancing to popular movement songs – many of which I recognized from previous trips to Korea. Now and then people were handed the microphone as we walked and asked to speak. I got a turn and told the story about the recent arrests in Bath, Maine when the Zumwalt 12 blocked the road and a gate at the June ‘christening’ of another Navy destroyer at the Bath Iron Works shipyard. I told people that before we did our action we read a statement of solidarity from Gangjeong village. (The Zumwalt 12 will go through arraignment on August 2 in the West Bath court, I obviously won’t be there. Our lawyer will offer my ‘not guilty’ plea on my behalf.)
Jeju is a tourist haven during the summer so the traffic was heavy while we walked today. We walked along the beautiful ocean, through small villages, and through a densely populated city – even spending at least an hour taking up one lane in a very busy four-lane highway. So we are being seen – it’s really quite a sight to see a couple hundred people singing and dancing with their yellow shirts and flags flapping in the breeze.
I am glad to be here – sun burnt, sore feet, but soaring heart. There is only one way that we might be able to stop the crazy US imperial war machine and that is by organizing global protests and taking the war and peace issue directly to the people. It’s an honor to be part of this peace walk.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Day 2: Jeju Peace Walk Update
Blocked from Entry for Peace Work
On July 26, two Korean American peace activists – Juyeon Rhee
and Hyun Lee – had planned to be part of a peace tour as representatives of the
U.S.-based Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea but were denied
entry into South Korea by its government.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Day 3 - Jeju Faces Even More Militarization
Day 3 from the 5th annual Grand March for Life and Peace here on Jeju
Island, South Korea.
Today Ken Jones and I are taking a break from the walk. I had some Global
Network tasks needing immediate attention and later in the day I will take Ken
to the April 3 (1948)
massacre museum near Jeju City. You can't come here without learning more
about the US-directed massacre of more than 30,000 Jeju Islanders after
Washington took over Korea from Japan at the end of WW II.
Our Tour of Kunsan AFB in South Korea
August 6, 2016
We Must Support One Another
The Grand March for Life and Peace concluded last night with a rousing rally
in Jeju City along the sea wall (that reminds one of the Malecón in Havana).
As you can see in the short video above, taken of the west team during a storm, not even a down pour bothered the walkers. Very few pulled out umbrellas or raincoats - most just keep moving along to the music coming from the sound trucks.
There is so much to say about this walk including the many things I learned
and about the Korean people that we had the great fortune to meet during these
days. I will likely write a series of posts, with many more photos, in the
coming days as time and the words make themselves available to me.
We all have much to learn from the biggest little village on the planet
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Lessons from Jeju Grand March for Life & Peace
Fellow Veterans For Peace (VFP) members Will Griffin, Ken Jones
and I flew back to the Korean mainland yesterday afternoon to Daegu (the hottest
city in Korea we were told) where we will spend the next two days resting. Our
events here were surprisingly cancelled on us.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Walk Around Jeju Island
Video compilation of the Grand March for Life & Peace on Jeju Island, South
Drop the Lawsuit Against Jeju Activists!
Joyakgol sings his new hit single 'drop the lawsuit', in reference to the
recent $3 million lawsuit for damages filed by the Navy against 116 Gangjeong
villagers/supporters - just the latest in a brutal attempt to suppress the
irrepressible resistance that characterizes the Gangjeong peace movement!
Monday, August 12, 2016
Jeju Peace March (with English subtitles)