Category Archives: Jeju

Oliver Stone Visits Jeju

I will let this article in the Hankyoreh English version newspaper speak about Oliver’s visit to Jeju this past weekend.

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/598369.html

Oliver Stone joins Jeju residents’ battle against naval base

Posted on : Aug.5,2013 12:00 KST

 

Film director Oliver Stone shakes hands with priests and brothers Moon Jeong-hyun (right) and Moon Kyu-hyun at a concert supporting the opposition to the construction of a naval base in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, August 3. (by Ryu Woo-jong, staff photographer)

Acclaimed director is touring Asia in criticism of the US government’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy

By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent “Ever since the Second World War, the US has been building military alliances and setting up military bases overseas. A lot of those bases are in Japan and Korea. Jeju Island is less than 500 kilometers from Shanghai. It could end up on the front lines if a military conflict breaks out between the US and China.”

Internationally renowned filmmaker Oliver Stone said this about the naval base currently under construction on Jeju Island. The 67-year-old director, whose works on the Vietnam War include “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July,” met with the Hankyoreh on Aug. 3 at the Peace Center in Gangjeong Village in Jeju.

Noting the US’s overseas military strategy, Stone said the issue with the Jeju base was “global, not regional.”

“The Obama administration has adopted a ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy as a way of containing China,” he said. “It’s similar to the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War. And in its push to do this, Washington has built or is building military alliances not just with South Korea and Japan, but with the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Cambodia, and Myanmar. It’s a foolish, paranoid strategy.”

In view of this strategy, the Jeju naval base may be a military extension of the US forces, who could eventually end up using it, Stone said.

The director said he came to Jeju after seeing documentaries by US directors on Gangjeong Village and the April 3 Uprising of 1948 and reading articles on the villagers battle against the construction.

“I wanted to see for myself,” he said. He arrived on the island on Aug. 2 for a three-day stay.

As soon as he arrived, he went to visit film critic Yang Yun-mo, who was arrested while campaigning against the base, as well as people involved in the Grand March for Life and Peace, an event organized to call for a halt to the construction. On Aug. 3, he went to see activists opposing the base in their battle against police at the construction site in Gangjeong – a visit that left him looking very troubled.

“They’re calling the people who oppose the base ‘pro-North Korea,’ but that’s a very simplistic expression and their methods are easy to attack,” Stone said. “But the residents and activists are very sincere about their home, their rights, and this beautiful island of Jeju.”

He also spoke on environmental concerns, noting the base was “destroying beautiful soft coral reefs and contaminating the water.”

“I’ve heard that Jeju water was some of the cleanest and best in the world,” he said. “What happens when it ends up getting polluted?”

“The Gangjeong residents and activists aren’t alone in their battle against the base. This is going beyond South Korea and turning into a worldwide issue,” he continued. “I don’t know how this battle is going to go, but the residents’ fight will not be forgotten.”

Following his trip to Jeju, Stone plans to head to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where atomic bombs were dropped during the Second World War. There, he plans to attend a conference opposing atomic and hydrogen bombs before traveling on to Okinawa, site of a large US military base.

Bishop of Jeju, Most Rev. Peter Kang

Since Oliver Stone is marching along with Bishop Peter Kang whom I interviewed while on Jeju last September, I thought it would be good to share it again. They are marching with Fr. Mun, my friend Kho, Gil-chun, Choi, Sung-Hee, Paco Booyah, and hundreds of others on the Grand March for Life and Peace around Jeju Island.

This was before I formed Pax Tibi Productions when I was doing Truth TV on local television.

Wonderful OP ED on The Ghosts of Jeju

Judith Hicks wrote this for the local newspaper in Colorado. I had to share it with you.
Dear Editor:  “The Ghosts of Jeju” by independent filmmaker Regis Tremblay of Maine, may be the most important documentary film available to Americans today.  Recently released, it’s already being shown around the world, and is sure to heavily impact the way people far and wide view not only American military activity, but all war.       Tremblay has said, “Hardly anyone in America is aware of the story I tell in The Ghosts of Jeju…”  I’ve followed Jeju’s plight for about two years via reports from Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and just watched this compelling film for the fourth time this week- very unusual for me!  Its production is superb, its effect heart rending.   Jeju Island is a tiny Korean “crown jewel” only twenty miles by 45 miles, located sixty miles south of the mainland.  Gangjeong Village on Jeju’s southern shore, has been populated for five hundred years by peaceful indigenous farmers, fishermen, and their families.  Two rivers of unpolluted, pure drinkable water flow through Gangjeong.  At the seashore lies (or did) a large mass of black volcanic rock named Gureombi which villagers believe to be alive, part of their own hearts and souls, and deeply revered.  Surrounding waters are home to the largest coral reefs of their kind in the world,with gorgeous, bright, vari-colored corals; and several other rare forms of marine life, including bottlenose dolphin.  So rare an area on planet earth, it has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Please note:  UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, established in 1946 to “advance mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples”.          Sadly, against the villagers’ will, and contrary to UNESCO principles, all the biggest problematic planetary issues have converged upon this tiny, historically peaceful island, making it a symbol reflecting not its name of “Island of Peace”, but everything the world’s peace movement is challenging:  violation of human rights, ecological devastation, forceful domination- including impending forced relocation of indigenous people.  The plan is to relocate the villagers, and replace them with housing for 8,000 military personnel (and predictably, strip malls, brothels and bars).            Constant, prolonged protest (nearly six years) by villagers, mainland Koreans, and countless activists from around the world, these peaceful villagers now experience depression, often physical injuries from confrontations wih “authorities”, sometimes even lengthy jail time.  Still, every evening they persist in joyous dance to counteract depression and to keep their spirits high..             Salida Regional Library now owns a DVD copy of The Ghosts of Jeju.  I cannot recommend this film highly enough.  Check it out, view it with friends and neighbors, as it’s certain to evoke deep feelings and heartfelt conversation.  Also, see www.savejejunow.org    Order online-www.theghostsofjeju.com or send US $23 to Regis Tremblay 209 River Rd., Woolwich, ME 04579        If you think Jeju is too far away to matter to you personally, see for yourself what’s happening.  There’s much more to this story- don’t miss it!            Sincerely, Judith E. Hicks

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Going to VFP National Convention in Madison, WI

convention_logo

From August 7-11, I’ll be attending the annual convention of the Veterans For Peace with my friend and fellow member Dan Ellis. I joined the VFP last year as an associate member since I am not a veteran, but because one of my sons is in the active military.

I am happy to report that my chapter of the VFP, Tom Sturtevant #001, was the first chapter in the entire country. After viewing the trailer of The Ghosts of Jeju, the members voted to send me to Madison where the film will be screened on Friday, August 9th.

There’s more good news to report. Bruce Gagnon, also a member of our Tom Sturtevant chapter, has been on a speaking tour that has taken him from Sweden near the North Pole to Hawaii, The Philippines, and all the way down to Australia. Along the way, Bruce has screened the film and given away many copies of the film.

This is what Bruce had to say after the screening in Sweden at the annual meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space:

“It was a smashing hit….people were crying and they were clapping at the end…..I handed out the DVD’s strategically to key leaders in various Swedish cities, and from Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Mexico…..people passed the hat to send money to the village but I insisted they keep the money towards sending a representative from Sweden to the village ASAP……they loved the music, the story, and the resistance…..many people sent congrats to you….it’s was a European opening night showing……5 stars. Add Russia to list of places I sent DVD home with….a man who works directly for Putin.”

People from around the world and the U.S. have been ordering the film. Meanwhile I have entered it into 13 film festivals, including Sundance, Boston, New Hampshire, San Diego Asian, Portland and Camden, Maine. I’ve also entered the film in the two big festivals in S. Korea, the Seoul and Busan International Film Festivals. Paying the application fee doesn’t guarantee the film will be accepted, so I’m waiting with fingers crossed hoping that one or two will screen the film.

Here in Maine, the film will be screened on Sunday, August 18th at the Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. It is sponsored by Addams-Melman House, The Global Network, EPF-ME, PeaceWorks, the Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom, Peace Action ME, and the Campaign to Bring Our War Dollars Home.

Other screenings are being organized in the Boston area, Washington, D.C., Portland, OR, and Charlottesville, VA.

Peace For Gangjeong March 2013

Jeju March 2013The indomitable spirit of the people of Gangjeong continues to inspire as they prepare for the 2013 Grand March for Life and Peace around Jeju Island. My film, The Ghosts of Jeju, declares, “the least we can do is to amplify their voices,” for with citizenship in America and the world, comes responsibility.

The people of Gangjeong are not alone in this struggle opposing the U.S. military expansion. All of the islands of the Pacific from Hawaii to Okinawa, to Guam, The Philippines and all the way down to Australia are rising up against American imperialism as the U.S. uses fear and power to coerce their leaders to either build or open up their ports and bases to the American military.

The myth of “national security,” is being foisted on the nations of the Pacific and Southeast Asia to instill fear that China and Russia have evil intentions to dominate the region. The U.S. military has made it perfectly clear their intentions are to encircle China and Russia, to impeded their growth by controlling access to the world’s resources, and to dominate the earth through a so-called Pax Americana. In other words, full-spectrum dominance through the use of unparalleled force on the earth, the seas, in the air and in space.

One must ask: is this really making the earth safer? Joint military exercises in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, encircling Russia and China with anti-ballistic missiles, the use of satellites to control the “battlefield” and for spying, remote controlled drones for indiscriminate killing, pivoting 60% of America’s naval might to Pacific and Southeast Asia can only be seen as provocative, threatening, and the raising of tensions in the region.

I recently did a search on the internet to find out how many times the U.S. had used military interventions in foreign lands. As an American with an undergraduate degree in U.S. History, I was shocked. Since 1798, barely 20 years after the founding of the country, the U.S. has intervened 188 times all over the globe, and that does not include World Wars I and II. The U.S. has even invaded China and Russia. And, in the process the U.S. has murdered millions and millions of innocent people to gain access and control over their resources.

America was not threatened by any of those sovereign nations nor by their indigenous peoples, nor was it America’s intention to spread freedom and democracy around the world. America sent troops to secure American “national interests,” which is manipulated language meaning the interests of the capitalist who needed fruit, rubber, rare earth minerals, and gas and oil to make money.

Since the very beginning of the U.S., white men imposed their beliefs upon a new nation under the myths of freedom and democracy, with liberty and justice for all…..meaning their own kind. The founders were mostly business men and slave owners. Women and slaves were considered property and could not vote. This group of elite, white capitalists believed not only in white supremacy and a patriarchal society,  but believed that “their” America was exceptional and blessed by god. They got most of us believing it.

Imperialism is as old as civilization. Among the empires were the Greeks and Romans, the Ottoman Empire, and the empires of Europe and Asia. It was the Europeans who discovered the Americas in search of gold and riches which they found in abundance to replenish the depletion of resources in their own territories. Blessed by the Catholic Church and their kings and queens, these white explorers murdered millions and millions of indigenous peoples throughout North and South America believing that these peoples were savages, and something less than human beings. Entire cultures were destroyed

These white, European nations even fought wars among themselves in the Americas to stake their claims to the “New World” and its riches. Because they were more powerful and “civilized” they had no regard for those who had inhabited the Americas for thousands of years. Just like women and slaves, these indigenous peoples had no rights and no claim to the land.

Genocide and the extraction of resources has defined the history of the European empires. Their belief that the earth’s resources belong to the stronger, almost always blessed by the Church, are at the core of the American empire and the belief in American exceptionalism.

Resource extraction and control over those resources to fuel the American Way of Life have been the reasons for each an every military intervention of the United States.  Like every previous empire, the American empire and the American Way of Life are in decline. The signs of this decline are everywhere. Governments are corrupt and beholding to the corporations. The labor movement, equal rights, and social uplift programs are being destroyed and weakened. Manufacturing jobs, except for military purposes, have gone where there is cheap labor and few restrictions on the corporations. Our roads, highways, and bridges, as well as the nation’s infrastructure are in disrepair. Education is no longer free, but being controlled by the wealthy and the military industrial complex. Income disparity has grown astronomically. The U.S. is #1 in the world in prison populations. Climate deniers and industry lobbyists have made the search for renewable energy and the creation of good, living-wage jobs impossible.

The elite, white capitalists have addicted the population to sports, entertainment, and the need for more stuff. People are more interested in sports, movie stars, celebrities, and reality TV shows than they are in what is happening to their freedoms. Inundated by advertising, deprived of an education that fosters critical thinking,  duped into believing they need the latest technological gadget, and thirsting for more violence on TV, the movies, and ultimate cage fighting, Americans have been conveniently sedated and distracted.

Long gone is the independent, free media that was our protection against government overstepping its boundaries. Today, all of the mainstream media are owned by a handful of large, multinational corporations. What is fed to the American public as news, is highly refined propaganda that reinforces the lie of the great American Way of Life.

Fear and lies have always worked to control the masses, and the elite, white capitalists are using fear and lies to limit our freedoms and Constitutional rights. During the Cold War it was fear of Commies, Reds, and Russia. Today, in addition to fear of Russian and Chinese Communism,  it is fear of terrorism. It works to perfection. Because of fear, most Americans have willingly given up their rights to privacy and their civil liberties.

Furthermore, the national security and surveillance state which includes the militarized local police, campus security guards, and even game wardens, have violently put down and suppressed peaceful protests. Anyone who opposes the state is a domestic terrorist and can be detained indefinitely without due process guaranteed by the Constitution.

So, why is it that so many Americans cannot penetrate the myths and the lies? It is precisely because the myths of freedom and democracy have been ingrained in the population, not by chance, but by design. American capitalism is the evil in the world today, subjugating the people of America and the world to their imperial designs. It is because the majority of Americans do not believe they have power to do anything about it. It is because the 1% has systematically divided the population over scores of issues. There are so many issues facing this country now, so many ominous warning signs that most cannot get their minds around them all. Most Americans are just trying to survive on a day to day basis and do not have the time or the energy to become informed, much less get involved in an active way.

U.S. History as it has been taught, patriotism, the flag, parades and patriotic march music, the stories of American heroes from George Washington, Davie Crocket, to Eisenhower and Patton have cemented the myth of American greatness while conveniently sanitizing the evil motives and the unrestrained and immoral violence and killing that have characterized U.S. intervention in the world.

This system, The American Way of Life is unsustainable because it recklessly depletes the planets resources. The system, based on consumption, itself is destroying the planet. In order to grow and maintain the economy and the American Way of Life, people need to consume more and more and that cannot happen without the suicidal dependance on oil, which in turn is threatening all life on the planet. Most Americans simply cannot conceive of any other way.

The people of Gangjeong know that LIFE and JUSTICE are at stake in the world.  They know the struggle isn’t just against American militarism, war, and capitalism, but the struggle for survival. And that is why this year they march again for Life and Justice. For without Justice, there is no freedom, there is no peace, and life as we know it is not sustainable on this planet.

With citizenship on the planet comes the responsibility to join in this struggle for Life and Justice. The people of Gangjeong and Jeju Island cannot be left to fight this battle alone.

Sister Stella Cho on U.S. Role in Korea

One evening at dinner, I sat next to Sr. Stella, a Korean missionary sister with a great sense of humor and a good command of the English language. After dinner and a delightful conversation, Sr. Stella asked, “so why not interview me. I want to tell Obama and the American people something.”

How could I refuse? Sitting next to the 20 ft barbed wire fence of the base, with the light fading fast and a fire burning to keep warm on that cool evening, Sr. Stella with all the confidence in the world and the passion of her convictions, let it rip.

She is one of hundreds of Catholic nuns from Korea and Jeju Island who visit Gangjeong Village frequently to stand in solidarity with the villagers and activists in their struggle against the construction of the naval base that is destroying the environment and their village, not to mention the denial of their human rights to live peacefully there as they have done for over one thousand years.

Even today, some 10 months removed from my stay in Gangjeong Village, I am overcome with tears and emotion as I watch the final feature-length version of The Ghosts of Jeju.

I am sure you will enjoy meeting Sr. Stella and be moved by her message.

The Ghosts of Jeju Update

Since returning from S. Korea on September 30th of last year, I have been totally consumed with research and editing the film. Many people helped make it all possible with financial contributions and constant support and encouragement.

I’m indebted to Charles Hanley, Bruce Cumings, and Oliver Stone for their contributions. When Oliver told me the original title was too long and confusing (Jeju: In the Crosshairs of War…Again) I had to rethink it. During the interview, Oliver mentioned “ghosts” in describing those who had been massacred. Charles Hanley also told me about the ghosts that the men of the 7th Cavalry saw throughout their lives. They were the ones who massacred some 400 men, women and children at No Gun Ri under orders from “the top.” I also recalled hearing people in Gangjeong Village talk about ghosts. Hence, The Ghosts of Jeju.

I have entered the documentary into twelve major film festivals including Sundance, Chicago, Austin, Boston, Hollywood, San Diego Asian Festival, and the Seoul International Film Festival. The hope is that a distributor will pick it up. Meanwhile, a distributor in Los Angeles that favors documentaries of political and social issues agreed to view the film.

Thanks go out to Paul Michaud, Lucas Stewart, and Travis Steward of Patracompany LLC in Brunswick. They were always available to help with the film and this website. Paul and Lucas traveled with me to Washington, D.C. to film the interview with Oliver Stone. Paul also accompanied me to NYC to film the interview with Charles Hanley, and to Charlottesville, VA to film the interview with Bruce Cumings.

Finally, it was Bruce Gagnon who arranged for me to go to Jeju last August, and Bruce has supported my efforts with cash donations, constant encouragement, and reviewing the film at several stages of development. Our recollections of how it came about differ slightly, but here’s my version.

It was one day in mid August of last year that I was visiting with Bruce in his office, as was my custom on a weekly basis. I had been hearing and learning about Jeju from Bruce, so when he said “I’ve got to find three people to go to Jeju,” I said, “I’ll go” to which he replied “are you kidding?” I said I was serious, and he then said, “but will Paula (my wife) let you go?” Without asking Paula, I said, “no problem.”

So, right then and there, Bruce fired off an email to Jan Passion in San Francisco informing him that I was ready to go. Jan works for Peaceworkers with David Hartsough, and they have been paying for transportation to Jeju. Jan replied within minutes asking when I could go and if I would stay for a month. To which I said, “I can go as soon as we can book a flight.” Since I already had a passport, I only needed to pack. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Seoul with over 100 lbs of equipment.

Bruce also made arrangements for Fr. Pat Cunningham to meet me at Inchon airport in Seoul, and that turned out to be the most important connection I would make. Pat is a Columban Missionary priest from Ireland who has been in Korea for 17 years. I stayed with the Columbans in Seoul for a few days before flying down to Jeju with Pat, who made all of the introductions and arrangements for where I would stay.

From Pat and the Columbans,I learned a great deal about Korea and the history of the past 60 years. Several of the priests had been in Korea for 40 years working with the poor and disenfranchised.

The next three weeks were not what I had expected, and I think the film will convey what I learned so I won’t belabor that here. Suffice it to say, what I learned made me cry and I felt angry at what my country had done at the conclusion of World War II and beyond. I began to realize that I wasn’t going to document another anti-war demonstration. As Charles Hanley told me, “you stumbled onto something much bigger than you could imagine.” And, indeed I did.

The story I tell in the film has never been told this way and most Americans will be surprised at what they learn about America’s history, not only in Korea and on Jeju, but everywhere the military has gone, constructed war bases displacing indigenous people and destroying the environment from Thule, Greenland to the islands of the South Pacific, and from Asia to South America.

I don’t know if this film will ever make it into even the smallest of venues, but it is a story that Americans and peace-loving people everywhere must know before it is too late. While the struggle on Jeju may be lost… maybe not, the indomitable spirit and courage of the people of Gangjeong village will provide hope that one day we can learn to live in peace with all who people the earth, all the creatures of the earth, and with the only home we have. It is my hope that everyone who sees this film will join in the efforts of millions around the world to bring peace and justice to the only home we have.

Here’s the trailer for The Ghosts of Jeju:

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