Reverend Park Chang-shin, a Roman Catholic priest in South Korea is being called an “enemy of the state” for remarks he made during a special mass on November 22, calling on President Park Geun-hye to resign.
A little background is necessary. Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the last ruthless dictator to rule S. Korea. Both her father and mother were assassinated. She rose to power through the Korean National Assembly and ran for president in 2012.
It has since come to light that the Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) rigged the election which Ms. Park won.
The Catholic priests of S. Korea have called for her to resign.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Rather than address the allegations of a rigged election, President Park Geun-hye has turned her wrath on casual remarks Fr. Park Chang-shin made at the end of his homily on November 22 when he asked the assembled faithful, “What is North Korea supposed to do if the US and South Korea continue their military drills around disputed territory?” When the congregation replied, “shoot,” Fr. Park said, “of course they’re going to shoot. That was what the Yeonpyeong Island shelling was about.”
Because of this remark, conservative organizations and President Park’s government are lodging complaints that Fr. Park Chang-shin violated the National Security Law with his comments. President Park Geun-hye said, “we will not tolerate behavior that hurts the public’s trust or divides the people.” Accusations of “communist and North sympathizers” that date back to the April 3rd rebellion on Jeju in 1947-48, and subsequent rebellions and protests against the governments in S.Korea are being leveled again against Fr. Park Chang-shin, and the peaceful, non-violent protesters in Gangjeong Village who are opposing the construction of a large naval base to accommodate Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”
That “National Security Law” has been been used to silence protestors and anyone daring to speak about the atrocities committed on Jeju and in the southwestern part of Korea prior to the Korean conflict, and to this day, Korean people fear government reprisal if they speak out against the government. I have found this to be true even with Korean-Americans and Korean nationals living and working in America today. On my tours screening The Ghosts of Jeju, I have met numerous Korean people who have thanked me for bringing to light the truth about their history, but have indicated how fearful THEY still are about speaking out against the government.
One Korean national told me that the Korean CIA has been know to track down Korean dissidents in other countries who disappear without a trace. Others worry about family members back in South Korea who will be persecuted because they speak out.
Back to Fr. Park Shin-Chang’s comments about the North being provoked and intimidated for decades by annual joint U.S. and Republic of Korea military drills off the coast of North Korea, and the massing of tens of thousands of U.S. military forces, missiles, fighter jets, drones on more than 30 bases along the DMZ and throughout South Korea. He is absolutely correct and had the courage to express this FACT which most in South Korea are afraid to do.
My friend, Bruce Gagnon in a recent blog, asked what would the U.S. do if another country staged war games off the East and West Coasts of the United States, and what would the U.S. do if missiles were stationed on Cuba and the Caribbean islands, and drones, and spy planes were flown up and down our borders? America would declare all-out war immediately.
So, how is it that the school-yard bully, America, gets away with doing this to N. Korea? How is it that it is in the interests of freedom, democracy and protecting shipping lanes, the U.S. places missiles, advanced radar, satellite links, and thousands of U.S. troops on over a 1,000 bases to surround China and Russia and it not be considered an act of war?
I stand with Fr. Park and the hundreds of South Korean Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists who are protesting against the violation of human rights, injustice, and the criminal abuses of a government run by Samsung and the military.
The so-called democratic governments in South Korea and the U.S.A. no longer represent the people so it is up to the people to overturn those tyrannical governments and replace them with governments that reflect the needs and hopes of the people.
That, by the way, is written into our beloved Declaration of Independence.
I am so proud of and indebted to the priests and courageous people of South Korea and Gangjeong Village for being on the front lines against the evils of capitalism, militarism, the violation of human rights, and the destruction of the environment.