Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Cruelly Corporatist Korea

Gangjeong Village is among the furthest points from Seoul as exist in South Korea. Some 480 km from Seoul and far from mainland troubles, Gangjeong sits on beautiful Jeju Island's southern coast. Threats to develop the region were first put aside through legislation and edict. (link) The coastal area was designated a Cultural Protection Zone by the South Korean government in 2000 and 2004. In 2002 South Korea's Ministry of Land defined the region a Marine Ecosystem Conservation Area, and that same year it also became a UNESCO Biosphere Conservation Area. In 2006, the government of Jeju Island named the Gangjeong Village zone a Marine Provincial Park, and the central government's Ministry of Environment designated it an "Ecological Excellent Village"; in 2007, the Jeju Island government identified it as an Absolute Retention Coastal Area; and in 2008, the Ministry of Environment designated it a Natural Park.

Then, against the wishes of the local people, distant militarists decided to develop the area as a strategic naval base. Both the Korean Government in distant Seoul and the U.S. Government in Washington D.C. pushed to reclassify the area for development, overturning all objections. Jeju Naval Base (제주 해군기지) is now operational.

But serious struggles continue (link). Many local people and their supporters were arrested & fined. Worse, because construction was slower than expected due to local opposition, the large private-sector chaebol construction companies demanded compensation for the delays, Seoul's right-wing government is forcing the local villagers to pay these costs (link).

In other words, refusing to quickly stand aside when government tries bulldozing your neighborhood will lead to bankruptcy. Forcing the local population to pay restitution & indemnity is horrible -- closer to fascism than a democratic process. Shame on Korea's politicians!

Artist Carlos Latuff (Brazil) supports Jeju villagers against the menacing naval base

Unfortunate blowback from a global imperialist alliance is deployment of foreign military forces in places otherwise peaceful, thus distressing the local population. Korea, Japan and Hawai'i are in a feudal relationship with Washington D.C., forced to accept American military installations into such places as Jeju's Gangjeon coastline, Okinawa's Yanbaru forest, and O'ahu's delicate Mokapu Peninsula. Tough.