Category Archives: Jeju

Jeju Island 2015: Where it All Began

Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, South Korea. August 15, 2015. Three years later.

Me filming_1

Much has changed in Gangjeong. The massive, and I mean massive, naval base to accommodate America’s “Pivot to Asia” is nearing completion.

Seeing it made me angry, and reminded me once again of my dear friend Dud Hendrick’s powerful words in The Ghosts of Jeju. He asked, “Is there any place so remote, so beautiful, so sacred as to be inviolable by the U.S. military? And when you think about it, there is no such place.”

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IMG_6381Base housing in foreground fronting Tiger Island.

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From  Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to all of the islands of the Pacific from Hawaii down to the Marshall Islands including Japan, Okinawa, Jeju, Guam and the Philippines,  America has killed millions of indigenous peoples, stolen their land and their resources and made them colonies of the U.S.. These are all horrendous crimes against nature and humanity.

When one visits Hiroshima, Okinawa and Jeju, as I am doing now, the truth about  America’s past of global aggression becomes tragically clear. If Americans can admit that the entire American narrative is a lie, then, and only then, can Americans take responsibility for the actions of their government and hope to become an equal member of the human race.

What hasn’t changed in Gangjeong is the 8 year, ongoing, non-violent protest against this base. While there are fewer activists because of the attrition caused by over 600 arrests, 30 imprisonments, and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the brave few remain.

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The daily ritual of 100 bows at 7 am followed by Catholic mass and rosary at 11 am continue without pause. Because dozens of cement trucks and construction vehicles come and go all day and during the mass, the police clear the gates to allow them to pass. It is remarkable how gentle and respectful the police are these days, obvious that some sympathize with the activists, but avoid conversation and eye contact.

Me and police shuttle best

Me doing the dance

And as always, the action ends with several spirited songs and, the now famous, Gangjeong dancing.

The struggle here in Gangjeong is an important symbol for the peace, human rights, and environmental movements around the world. I believe the spirit of revolution is stirring in all parts of the planet and our only hope for survival is for a massive, global convergence of awareness that rises up and says NO to the evil systems that threaten our very lives.

Jesuit father Kim, when I asked him why the Jesuits have established a permanent house here and why he remains, said, “because there is evil on the other side of this wall, and we must remain here to stop it.”

 

 

 

 

The Ghosts of Jeju Now With Korean Subtitless

Disc_TemplatesThe Ghosts of Jeju with Korean subtitles is now available for sale online at www.theghostsofjeju.net

Thanks to my dear friend, Joyakgol, a Gangjeong peace activist, who traveled with me from The Chicago Peace on Earth Film Festival to the West Coast for screening in 13 cities, the Korean version of The Ghosts of Jeju has been completed.

DSC_4356Joyakgol edited and finalized the translation upon his return to Korea where he has been presenting the film. Joyakgol will also present the film this month at the following film festivals: Cheju Fringe Festival, the Environmental Film Festival in Incheon, The Catholic Film Festival, The Gwangju Human Rights Film Festival, and the Jeju Peace Festival.

He will be accompanied by Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, the former Korean film critic for 30 years, who left his career to defend his home. He has been imprisoned four times for protesting the construction of the navel base and went on hunger strikes each time.  Here is a short clip from The Ghosts of Jeju:

I am happy to say that the Japanese version is nearing completion with only the subtitles to be added. The film is currently being translated into French with the subtitles due to be completed later this year. All of this work is being done gratis by people who have been moved by the film.

It is simply amazing that this almost no budget film has not only been screened hundreds of times here in America, but found its way to at least 16 countries that I know of, including Russia and Taiwan.

I am humbled and gratified by the appeal of The Ghosts of Jeju.  As my good friend, Charles Hanley, the Associated Press Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Bridge at No Gun Ri told me, “you have no idea of the magnitude of the story you fell into.”

On going to Jeju in September of 2012, I thought I was going to make a short film about another anti-war, anti-U.S. militarism protest in a far-off land. And, like me when I discovered the untold and hidden story of the U.S. in Korea since 1945, Americans who see the film express the same disbelief, anger, and shame that I felt. The many Korean people in America who have seen it all thank me for telling this story which had been hidden from them as well.

You can help me continue to spread the film in the U.S. and around the world by purchasing a copy of the film in English or Korean and sharing it widely. There are no royalties, fees, or permissions needed. To date, I have not been compensated. Proceeds from the sale of the film have allowed me to make two cross country trips and countless regional trips to present it to both large and small groups.

Later this month I will be presenting it to the Peace & Justice Studies Association annual conference in San Diego, and the following week it will be screened by the Korean Studies Department at UCLA in a return visit.

The film is being sold in Korea with all of the proceeds going to the activists in Gangjeong Village, and all of the proceeds from copies purchased in Korea on line at www.theghostsofjeju.net  will also go to Gangjeong.

Worth More Than Money

Thanks to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute towards my current project. But, it isn’t money that fuels my fire.

Amidst all of the dark and frightening barrage of daily news, here’s what is bright and hopeful.

The following email is what is most gratifying and why I do what I do. These three fellows were two years behind me at the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton, MA back in the 60’s. One of them heard about The Ghosts of Jeju and ordered it. Since the three have remained close throughout the years and get together regularly, they watched the film recently, and here is what they had to say:

Hi Regis,

This past weekend we were finally able to view your film: The Ghosts of Jeju. We were all impressed. It’s obvious that a great deal of research, work and heart went into the film–your commitment to the issue and the people there is clear.

All of us learned quite a bit about a situation we confess we knew nothing about. Even though all of us would consider ourselves Catholics who believe firmly in the gospel of peace and justice, much of what was presented was a revelation. We were aware of the massacre at the bridge during the Korean War, but did not know about the earlier slaughter on the island. It is reminiscent of US policy in Central America where anyone who protest the status quo or struggles for true justice is considered a communist…to be eliminated.

We likewise weren’t aware of some of the more recent dimensions in US Geopolitical thinking.  We were shocked about the outer space dimension and the language used by the military about such a “cool” strategy.

So, Regis, we want to thank you for the work you have done telling a story that deserves to be told. We share with you the same sense of responsibility as citizens and as people of faith.  We appreciate the commitment required of us all to make this world more just and peaceful.

It would be great to get together with you sometime.  I know we’ll have plenty more to discuss. And since the three of us do meet up occasionally in New Hampshire it’s not too far afield to travel to Maine.

Redacted slightly so as to “protect the innocent.” 🙂

 

Beyond My Ability

Dear Friends,

As you now, my month-long trip to Jeju and South Korea had to be postponed due to illness. To date, I have raised a little over $4,000 US for my new documentary that will cover the effects of U.S. militarism in the Pacific from Hawaii to The Philippines, and the large popular, non-violent uprisings occurring throughout the Pacific (and really around the world) against U.S. military presence and expansion.

So many of you have already supported this new effort with your financial contributions, and I thank you. But, I need your help now in finding progressive organizations, NGOs, and individuals who are known to support documentary films.

This new film will be much larger in scope than The Ghosts of Jeju and will require more money than I have been able to raise from generous and supportive contributors like you.

The film will also demonstrate very clearly, using interviews with independent journalists,  former State Department, and CIA officials,  the dark forces that make foreign policy, war, and large increases in the Department of War budget.

My plan is to begin filming early in 2015 beginning in Hawaii and Okinawa, and then on down to Jeju and S. Korea, Taiwan, Guam, and The Philippines.

If The Ghosts of Jeju is any indication, this new film will also receive world-wide attention and acclaim. I have no idea how many screenings there have been, nor how many people have seen The Ghosts of Jeju. The screenings number in the hundreds in the U.S. and in at least 15 countries. Thousands of people have seen it and hundreds have purchased copies.

The Ghosts of Jeju has recently been released in South Korea with subtitles, thanks to the tremendous efforts of my dear friend, Joyakgol. Very soon it will be released in Japan having been translated by Maho Yamazaki and activist friends. It is also being translated into French. All of these efforts by dedicated activists for no compensation at all.

Documentary films do not make money! Films like mine are a labor of love that arise from an inner need to educate and inform the world about the serious issues that are threatening life on Mother Earth. My focus is on ending militarism, wars, and the death and destruction of the environment that results.

So, I am once again turning to you for help in finding sources, be they individuals, organizations, or foundations, that will see the value in what I am doing and want to help. As you know, I am a “crew” of one. The only thing standing in the way of making this film is money.

Thank you again for your past support and anything you can do to help make this new film a reality.

Here’s is my short video plea for help in making this film.

America Not So Beautiful

As many of you know, I will be returning to Jeju on August 5th. On August 6th, I will give a presentation to an international gathering of Pacific Islanders at the Gangjeong Peace Camp, a three day affair beginning on August 3rd. They will also screen the Ghosts of Jeju on the second evening of the camp.

Rather than give a talk, I prepared this 22:43 video about US Militarism and its origins. Thought I’d share it in this blog.

The new documentary will focus on the effects of US militarism in the Pacific and the massive, popular uprisings against it. When looked at through a different perspective than the one all Americans have been ingrained with, America no longer looks so beautiful.

I’ve just finished reading a very shocking book by William Blum entitled Rogue State. It is the most detailed and concise record of US military and CIA interventions around the world since 1945 that I have found.

Blum reveals America’s recklessness, abuse, and blackmail on dozens of sovereign states, and of course, the countless bombings and mass killings in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Central America, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan….literally against any country that would attempt to form a government and society not aligned with America’s interests, and most definitely against any country that might attempt to compete with or impede America’s global hegemony.

This books details America’s abuse and obstruction of the United Nations since its inception. It details dozens and dozens of UN General Assembly votes objected to by the US and Israel, and many others vetoed by only the US. The US has also vetoed and ignored UN calls for human rights in Palestine, on countless occasions, a nuclear test ban treaty, and international criminal courts to name just a few.

Blum says that America equates Democracy with free-market Capitalism, a myth that has only wrecked havoc and poverty throughout the world and right here at home as well.

How does America get away with it? Because America can. Simple as that. As the only superpower in the world, the  corporate power structure that controls our government and many other governments in the world is attempting to imposed a new world order on the planet with a one world economy that is enforced by the most powerful and lethal military the world has ever know.

My film will bring much of this out, but will also focus on the more immediate, destructive effects of US militarism in the Pacific such as the destruction and pollution of the environment, abject poverty, prostitution, the forced evacuation of indigenous people, the obliteration of ancient cultures and civilizations, and the  egregious violation of human rights on every level, from food, clean water, education, health care and civil liberties.

I find the same things happening here at home quite striking.

Taking on Capitalism and Militarism in the Pacific

I have already received $2,500 as a result of the Indiegogo funding campaign which ends on July 10. Thanks to all of you who contributed. But, that is a little less than 30% of what it will take to travel to the islands of the Pacific.

I need to raise $10,000 by May of 2015 when I plan to go to Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, Guam and the Philippines to film American bases and the contamination and destruction of the environment, the displacement of indigenous people, and the violation of human rights, all directly caused by America’s militarism and imperial advance in the Pacific.  I also want to film the large, popular uprisings against America’s presence on each of those islands, as well as ask people why they are protesting and what they hope to accomplish.

This is a 5 minute video explaining more about the messages that will make up this film. Please take a moment to watch it even if you have already contributed, and please share it with friends on social media.

The Spirit of Gangjeong # 8

In this edition, massive protests around Korea; almost naked Korean grannies resist hundreds of police protesting the placement of high voltage electrical towers in Miryang; sneak preview of short clip of longer interview I made of Chris Hedges (will appear in my next film).

Peace and Solidarity, and please share

Regis

Peace on Earth Film Festival & West Coast Tour

Laurels Expose---Jeju

March 5     Screening at University of Chicago

March 6-9 Chicago Peace on Earth Film FestivalChicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater

March 8 – The Ghosts of Jeju screening – Noon –Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater

March 12 – Fresno Center for Nonviolence  Noon and 7 pm

March 13 – Sonoma County Art Museum – 7 pm Univ. of San Francisco at Santa Rosa

March 14-16 – Annual Meeting of The Global Network

March 14   Screening – The Ghosts of Jeju  8:00 -9:30 PM

March 18 – 7 PM East Bay Media Center 1939 Addison Street, Berkeley

March 19 – Won Buddhist Temple  400 Shatto Pl,  LA, 7 PM

March 20 – 7 PM – San Diego Peace Resource Center of San Diego  3850 Westgate Place

March 21 – 1-3 P – UCLA  –  UCLA 11379 Bunche Hall

March 24 – Tucson  –  6:30  PM Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church – 1300 North Greasewood – Theology Uncorked

March 25  –  6 PM Phoenix Public Library Mesquite Branch 4525 E. Paradise Village Parkway N

March 28 –  6 PM –  Taos, New Mexico –  Kit Carson Electric Board Room  118 Cruz Alta Road

March 29 – 6 PM – Albuquerque Center For Peace and Justice 202 Harvard St. NE

March 30 – April 3 – Austin, Texas

Chicago Peace on Earth Film Festival SCHEDULE!

Hello dear friends,

Today, I received notice of the official schedule.

http://peaceonearthfilmfestival.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=212&Itemid=9

Saturday, March 8, noon. Awesome spot.

But there’s more good news. The founder and director of the festival emailed me when he learned that a young activist from Jeju might be joining me at the festival AND that Pope Francis would be visiting S. Korea in August. Here is what he said,

“WOW Regis!!
 We certainly are excited that you and possibly one of the Young Koreans for The Ghosts of Jeju will be in attendance.
However, I am most excited that you have a screening to coincide with the Pope’s coming to South Korea. Let’s muster some powerful influence and support for the effort.”

So, if you are in or near Chicago, please, please do everything you can to attend the screening on March 8 at noon, and please encourage everyone you know to attend as well. This will do more than anything yet to bring attention to our dear friends in Gangjeong Village, and to the untold history of the U.S. in Korea.

And thanks to all of you who have contributed financially in recent days. You must know that wherever The Ghosts of Jeju goes, you go as well. Thank you for making it all possible.

Regis

This Kind of Review Makes It All Worthwhile

Hi, Holly,

After seeing the film (The Ghosts of Jeju) on Weds., I was too emotional to have comments.   I don’t want you to think I was untouched by what I saw.   I’ll pass on a comment I made to a friend after I arrived home.   Thank you for doing your part, always.   Peace and Love, Kathy

I’ve just come from a heart-rending viewing of a finely made film of the destruction and valiant protest on the Korean island of Jeju.  Once a paradise of unspoiled, vibrant ocean, sacred rocks and waterfalls, an agricultural and fishing community a mere 35 x 45 miles in size, it was first attacked and destroyed during the Korean war.  The residents are South Koreans, but our government ordered them destroyed and they were, by the thousands.
 
The continued systematic destruction of this little paradise is now being perpetrated so the US can add to their legion of bases around the world…way over 1,160 bases, worldwide, all shoving indigenous populations off, destroying their environment and homes.
 
The bravery and refusal to give up shown by the natives and those who come in as peace activists from many countries is beyond astounding.  
 
After thousands were massacred by the Korean and American armies, survivors are iron-tough and willing to put their lives on the line.
 
My good friend Holly Graham wrote and performed a lovely song of peace for the movie and the showing tonight was hosted by her, alone.   Sadly, few people responded to her invitation.
 
It’s now up to the few of us who did respond to do something for the good people of Jeju.
 
The last shred of respect I’ve clung to for the US government is gone.  It would’ve taken much less than what I’ve seen tonight to free me from my self-deception.

PS  After I read some of the literature, Holly, I told her about how 60% of our national budget goes to the military, leaving 10% and less for everything else.   And, that a mere dot on a line graph goes to our food safety.  (Going to a supermarket is like walking between two walls of poison…and it’s what most of our children are growing up on.)