I continue to be amazed at the influence The Ghosts of Jeju is having around the world. Today, I received a request on behalf of the people of Gangjeong Village to send a copy of the film to Pope Francis, hoping that he will visit Gangjeong Village on his planned trip to South Korea in August. It seems that the peace activists in Gangjeong have engaged in a letter writing campaign directly to Pope Francis inviting him to Gangjeong.
Here is my letter to Pope Francis that will accompany a copy of the film. I would also encourage you to write to Pope Francis.
January 26, 2014
Your Holiness Pope Francis,
The people of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea await your announced visit in August with great anticipation for they have been peacefully, and non-violently protesting the construction of a large naval base to accommodate the U.S. pivot to Asia.
For seven years, these farmers and fishermen, and their peace activist supporters from around the world, have been protesting seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Bishop of Jeju, Peter Kang, has supported the protest with his frequent presence, and by allowing his priests and nuns to participate.
Your Jesuit brothers in South Korea have been at the forefront of this struggle. Several have been arrested, fined, and imprisoned. During my stay there in September of 2012, I got to know them well, and I was pleased to see the Catholic Church and the Jesuit Fathers leading the struggle for peace and justice. And, busloads of Catholic nuns from all over South Korea regularly go to Gangjeong to protest and stand in solidarity with the villagers.
Daily mass is celebrated in front of the main gate to the base. Never before have I witnessed the sense of community shared by people of all faiths and backgrounds.
The struggle in Gangjeong Village is important for the Peace Movement around the world because everything is in focus there. These people are farmers and fishermen who will lose their livelihoods and their 500 year old village. They a protesting against the military and imperial expansion of the United States; they are protesting the occupation of their country by tens of thousands of American troops; they are protesting against the violation of human rights; and they are protesting against the desecration of a pristine ecosystem, home to several UNESCO world heritage sites.
Furthermore, in 2005, Jeju was declared “The Island of World Peace” because of the horrible massacres, at the hands of the U.S. Army in 1948, where as many as 60,000 men, women and children were murdered in a scorched earth campaign to wipe out opposition to the American occupation and the separation of the country at the 38th parallel. What followed during the Korean conflict was the carpet bombing and napalming of North Korea until there were no more targets left. It was the first time that the world would see the unrestrained violence inflicted upon indigenous people fighting for freedom, self-determination, and their basic human rights.
I went to Jeju in September of 2012 to make a documentary film. I thought it would be a short story about the anti-base protest, but what I learned there inspired me to make the enclosed feature-length film, The Ghosts of Jeju, which just recently was named an official selection of the Chicago Peace on Earth Film Festival in March of this year.
The documentary has now been seen in more than a dozen countries, including Russia. It is being translated, by volunteers, into Korean, Russian, French, Japanese, and German because people who have seen it believe this story must be told.
The people of Jeju have asked me to send you a copy of the film in preparation for your visit to South Korea in hopes that you will visit Gangjeong Village to stand in solidarity with them. This film reveals the untold and hidden history of American involvement in Korea from the end of World War II to the present day. Most people in America and around the world, and most Korean people are not aware of this history, nor are they aware of the plans of the U.S. to raise tensions in Asia and to dominate by overwhelming military might.
Your Holiness, the entire world is looking to you as the most influential voice for the poor and for peace and justice around the world. A visit to Gangjeong will give hope to people everywhere who are opposing war, militarism, and the abuse of human rights.
Respectfully and with profound hope and respect for your papacy,
Pax Tibi Productions
209 River Rd.
Woolwich, Maine 04579