In April 2015, the Korea Policy Institute helped to coordinate a speaking tour and film exhibition on the 8 year struggle in Jeju island to stop the building of a naval base.
Paco Michelson and HeeUn Silver Park, an American couple who have worked with the Gangjeong international peacekeepers team for two and half years, had returned to the U.S. and embarked on a national tour to talk about the struggles along with a new film, Gureombi, the Wind is Blowing.
Gangjeong Village is a tiny town on the idyllic island of Jeju off the southern coast of South Korea, where the South Korean Navy has been working to build a massive naval base, of a size that would accommodate U.S. carriers. Since 2007, Gangjeong villagers have been waging a nonviolent campaign against the construction of the naval base. Although 96 percent of the villagers voted against the base in a referendum, the South Korean government has arrested, fined and beaten nonviolent protestors for impeding the construction. “Jeju isn’t just any island,” stated actor/activist Robert Redford in 2012. “It has just been selected as one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature” for its breathtaking beauty, unique traditions and sacred groves. Of the world’s 66 UNESCO Global Geoparks, nine are on Jeju Island.”
Paco and Silver spoke in Maine, Boston, New York, Rutgers, Philadelphia DC, LA, Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, Seattle and Portland, where local community groups concerned about the Jeju Island struggle and the increasing militarization of the Asia-Pacific region presented events. The aim of the tour was to raise awareness but also to help fundraise for the enormous fines that have been charged to the villagers and peacekeepers for their peaceful protests.
View the video of the New York City Presentation. March 22, 2015 at the New School.