South Korean woman crying during protest over Jeju Island

About

I am a filmmaker living in Woolwich, Maine. In September 2012, I spent a month in Korea and three weeks in tiny Gangjeong Village. Little did I realize what I stumbled into. Against the will of the residents of Gangjeong (pop. 1800) who are mostly fishermen and farmers, the Korean government and Navy began building a massive naval base to accommodate America’s military pivot to Asia.

The villagers and their peace worker supporters have been protesting the construction of the base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for five years. Not only are they fighting to save their village, but the entire ecosystem of the area which has been declared a positively no construction zone and a UNESCO Biosphere preserve. Also threatened are the Idio-Korean bottle nose dolphins, rare and endangered crabs and frogs, and the fresh-water shrimp that exist only in this village.

Compared to the relatively short-lived Occupy demonstrations in the States, I wondered what had sustained these brave, peaceful people for five years when they have been subjected to the brutal repression of hundreds of police and security guards. What I didn’t learn in my history classes was the role the U.S. Army played in the massacre of as many as 60,000 peasants on Jeju from 1948-1951. Because these fiercely independent people rebelled against the American occupation and the imposition of Sigman Rhee, a brutal dictator, they were labeled Communists.

Recently revealed secret and classified documents, film and photos prove that the Americans equippped the Korean army and police, trained them, provided intelligence, and planned and directed the Scorched Earth assault on these innocent men, women and children.
Only after visiting the Peace Museum on Jeju commemorating the massacre which began on April 3, 1948, did I understand the meaning of the protest and the perseverance and resolve of the people of Gangjeong and their supporters, many of whom survived the massacre and the others are immediate descendants of that horrific period.

Then, as now, the people of Jeju are fighting for self-determination, basic human rights, an open and transparent democratic process, and the protection of this rare and beautiful environment.

My film places the 5-year old struggle in the context of America’s global military imperial domination of the planet through unrestrained and overwhelming force. Once again, the people of Jeju find themselves in the cross hairs of war between more powerful empires. And yet, the indomitable spirit of the Villagers and their supporters, who have not lost hope in spite of overwhelming odds, will inspire and motivate everyone who believes there is a better way to live together on this planet.

Regis Tremblay

2 thoughts on “About”

  1. This is a very powerful piece of work. I enjoyed meeting you at the vigil against KXL. I hope your excellent project can get promoted. This is something I never heard about. Because I have heard of other instances of atrocities by Americans, I am again shocked, but believe it did happen. This should be part of history.

    1. Hello Ann,
      Thank you for your comments. You should see the entire film. If you can’t afford it, I will send you a copy. Send me your address.
      It isn’t taught because this entire period from 1945-1953 has been deliberately hidden from history. It is only in the past maybe 10 years that these previously secret and classified documents, photos, and film have been released. I only learned about it by going to Korea and then meeting two people who are experts on that period. I also visited the National Archives to gather photos and documents. The entire film is very well worth watching.

      I’ve been touring with it for the past six months all across the country, presenting it to groups and universities. It will be screened at the Chicago Peace on Earth Film Festival, March 6-11. It will be screened on March 5 at Chicago University, and from there I will go to California, Arizona, NM, and Texas for as many as twelve screenings.

      It has also found its way to more than a dozen countries including Russia, and is being translated into Korean, Russian, French, Japanese, and German.

      Peace and Solidarity,

      Regis

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