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While in Gangjeong Village last September, I had the opportunity to interview over 20 villagers and activists who have been protesting the construction of that massive naval base in their tiny village to serve the needs of the U.S. “pivot to Asia” in order to check China.
As I am working hard to finish the feature-length documentary, Jeju: In the crosshairs of war, I’ve been reviewing hours of video, most of which will not be used. But, because all of it is of great value, I decided to create this series entitled, Gangjeong Village: Up Close and Personal to allow people to get to know these wonderful people on a personal level.
I hope that you are moved, as I was, by their perseverance against overwhelming force, their endurance, their peacefulness, and their joyful spirits.
First in the series is Fr. Mun Jeong Hyeon, the iconic 74 yr old priest who has been beaten, hospitalized and jailed for protesting the construction of the base. Fr. Mun is known as a “street father” because of his support for victims of human rights violations inflicted by state power. Ordained in 1966, he organized the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice in 1974 and opposed the dictatorship when the military carried out extrajudicial killings.
Fr. Mun is a true man of peace and has been at the forefront of protecting human rights in Korea. I hope you enjoy the series and this visit with my friend, Fr. Mun.
Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for protesting against the construction of the naval base in Gangjeong Village! The crime? Obstruction of business and jeopardizing the construction of the so called ‘joint civilian-military use base’!
Not only do the ROK government and the ROK Navy continue the lies and deception, but the courts do their part to beat back those who protest the military expansion of the U.S. in Asia and the Pacific.
Professor Yang has risked everything to stop the construction. This is Prof. Yang’s fourth prison sentence. He previously went on a hunger strike for 70 days. Professor Yang left a 30 year career as a prominent South Korean film critic to protest against the base on a full-time basis. During my stay, I had the privilege of meeting him and filming his daily protests at the gates. Professor Yang will be given a prominent role in my documentary.
The video clip of Prof. Yang resisting the police is by Korean filmmaker Cho, Sung-bong.
Paul Michaud, Jr. and I drove down to Charlottesville, Virginia on January 24th to interview Prof. Bruce Cumings for my film Jeju: In the Crosshairs of War…Again
Bruce is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, and specializes in modern Korean history and East Asian-American relations.
Bruce is arguably one of the leading experts on Korean History and the Korean War. Thanks to Fr. Pat Cunningham, a Columban Missionary living in Seoul, I learned about Bruce and purchased two of his books. The Korean War, A History is a must read for anyone interested in discovering the truth about Korea and the Korean War. He revealed the previously untold stories of the bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and exposes the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides.
I am personally indebted to Bruce for granting an extensive interview and for his exceptional work as a historian that enabled me to understand why the people of Jeju and Gangjeong Village are opposing the construction of the naval base on their beautiful Island of Peace.
Enjoy this 2:56 clip explaining why he cannot understand the need for another military base in the region, much less on Jeju.
Charles Hanley, Sang-Hun Choe, and Martha Mendoza won the Pulitzer Prize for The Bridge at No Gun Ri, a book detailing the horrific massacre of as many as 400 innocent men, women, and children by the U.S. Army in S. Korea in 1950.
Paul Michaud, founder of Patracompany, a full-service multi-media production company in Brunswick, Maine accompanied me to New York City on February 17, 2013 to film an extensive interview with Charles.
The massacre at No Gun Ri was not an isolated event, but typical of many such mass killings by the U.S. military before and during the “Forgotten War” when perhaps 100,000 civilians were summarily murdered on direct orders from the U.S. military command.
Charles will be featured prominently in my documentary, Jeju: In the crosshairs of war…again. A short draft is available at www.indiegogo.com/savejeju My film places the peaceful protest against the construction of a massive naval base on Jeju Island to accommodate America’s “Pivot to Asia” in the context of the massacre of as many as 80,000 Jeju civilians alleged to be Communists beginning on April 3rd, 1948 and the imperial military expansion of the United States.
This is a 3:30 clip to introduce Charles and to recommend The Bridge at No Gun Ri.
It is truly ironic and coincidental that one day after I posted part of an interview with Jeju Bishop Peter Kang saying the only way to ensure peace is to “diminish arms,” the NY Times reports that the U.S. is allowing S. Korea to use drones and to expand the range of their ballistic missiles.
At issue here are two fundamental premises: 1) that the Korean government is clearly not a sovereign nation, but a puppet of the U.S., and 2) that peace and national security can be maintained by another escalation of the arms race and the provocation of China, N. Korea, and Russia.
It is further proof of the real intent of the U.S. government, the U.S. military, and the military industrial complex to dominate and control the planet based on the doctrine of a Pax Americana whereby the sole superpower on the planet can ensure peace and prosperity through the military might.
First, here is a portion of my interview with Bishop Peter Kang of Jeju Island calling for an end to the arms race.
Now, the NY Times article which clearly proves the control of the Korean government by the U.S. and the intent to expand the arms race by “allowing” the Korean military the use of drones and to increase the range of its ballistic missiles to reach any point in N. Korea, but not China. That must be reassuring to both!
After spending nearly a month in S. Korea and three weeks in Gangjeong Village, the site of a massive naval base being constructed to accommodate Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” I can tell you this: Koreans, and I’m sure the rest of the world, categorically HATE America for engaging in a century of warfare, the killing of millions and millions of innocent people, and the arrogance of U.S. imperialism.
It was impossible to disagree with them and to find a plausible defense for my homeland. It is ironic – but maybe not – that the Korean and European people I met believe there has been a military coup in the U.S. since the assassination of JFK. They all believe that everything from Kennedy’s assassination right on up through 9/11 has been the work of the U.S. military and the military industrial complex. No one I met believes that 9/11 was the work of Muslim terrorists! They all believe it was a false flag event justifying the invasion of Iraq in order to gain control over the Middle East.
After the hope President Obama offered in his campaign four years ago, Koreans and the rest of the world know without a shade of doubt that it matters little who the president and Congress are. America’s actions to dominate land, sea, air and space through the use of military superiority are clear to everyone except most Americans.
I encourage you to watch Pax America, a film by Denis Delestrac, in which America’s generals and senior officers unabashedly state the intent to ensure peace through the use of overwhelming military power. This film, packed with startling facts, has been shown in theaters throughout the world, yet not here in the U.S. If you haven’t seen this film, please take the time to view it.
Many people here in America and around the world feel helpless and unable to “get their minds around it all,” but I believe there is still hope. Millions and millions of people on every continent understand what is going on and are rising up against the violation of human rights, the violation of civil rights, the destruction of the environment, and the killing of innocent people.
If, as some economists predict, the world is on the verge of economic collapse, I believe it will bring about the end to the evils of unrestrained capitalism and an end to the ever-expanding military budgets of nations around the world. They just will not be able to afford spending the majority of their resources on a never-ending arms race and war.
Just as Rome, the Soviet Union, and every other imperial nation collapsed because they could not afford enormous standing armies, so will America.
Therefore, it is imperative that Americans become informed and join with people around the world in demanding an end to war and an end to the evils of capitalism. To continue as we have been focusing on a myriad of single issues is to remain divided and therefore conquered. What is needed is a massive, people-powered, grassroots coalition of peace groups, environmental groups, Bradley Manning support groups, food activists, groups demanding an end to Citizens United, and, yes Occupy.
The root cause underlying all of these issues is the doctrine of Pax Americana and unrestrained capitalism, both of which are inherently evil and will not go without a massive, universal uprising and the collapse of the global economy.
To quote Leonard Cohen, “I love the country but I can’t stand the scene,” and Michael Moore, “I refuse to live in a country like this, and I’m not leaving.”
Women in Seoul are very fashion conscious as you will see in this short video. Many look like models. Regardless of what they are wearing, they are all pretty “with it.” The young kids dress just like American kids, and they all are texting on smartphones and listening to music in their headphones. Just about anything goes when it comes to clothing and footwear.
Most everyone is shopping….there are more beauty shops than I have ever seen. They say that S. Korea is the cosmetic make-over capitol of the world! Women come here from all over to improve their appearance.
And, oh! The kids are beautiful. Note, even first graders are dressed in uniforms, as are the older school kids….and that is in the public system!
Departed from Boston’s Logan airport after spending the night in a motel. Flight left right on time at 9:10 am for a 2 hr flight to Detroit. Sitting next to me in the middle seat was Delta Airlines pilot Grant Proops, who immediately greeted me. It was somewhat of a serendipitous meeting since we shared a great deal in common on a variety of topics.
Grant lives near Boston and was on his way to join a Detroit-based flight crew that would make several flights this day. I had a Sam Adams while Grant had lunch. Before I new it, my plane was boarding for Seoul.
The Boeing 777 was completely full. Thank goodness I had secured aisle seats. The 3 meals were wonderful, with snacks and free wine and beer in between. I watched 3 moves during the 14 hr flight and could not sleep a wink! Took several walks up and down the aisles so got to stretch my legs and everything else that I could move.
Going through customs and immigration at Inchon was a breeze, and my bags were waiting on the carousel when I got there. Unfortunately, Fr. Pat Cunningham, a Columban missionary priest from Ireland, and I missed each other. That resulted in an hour-long cab ride that cost $90….Later found out the bus would have only cost about $6.
The Columban Missionary Center in Seoul is a very large complex. I’ll have some video in another blog. It has been pouring down rain since I arrived. Attached here is a short clip of my room…..very comfortable.
I think I’m going to spend a few days here to take in the sights and maybe even go up to the DMZ. Patrick will be going down to JeJu on Sunday and I think I’m going to fly down with him. The round-trip ticket is supposed to be about $140. That will save me another full day.
Paula drove me down to Boston this afternoon and we checked into a motel. With an early flight out of Boston at 9:10 am tomorrow, it made things a whole lot easier. Mexican dinner because On The Border is just across the parking lot!
My special “camera equipment” backpack weighs 35 lbs…..feels heavier than that. My one checked bag came in at 42 lbs – 8 lbs to spare on the 50 lb limit. And then there’s the tripod bag which will also be a carry-on. I will not say “I’m getting too old for this,” but I’m not getting any younger either!
Am I excited?
I will try to keep everyone posted, hopefully daily with a brief account of the day and a short video clip from the days filming.