Monday, April 30, 2012


Via Deep Kyoto:

Event: Massive Bargain Sale / Gathering / Sing-a-long / Cookie Fest

Purpose: To raise lots of cash/awareness for IDRO Japan’s great work in the disaster-struck Tohoku region!

Dates & Times: Saturday May 5th – 11:00 – 21:00 /Sunday May 6th – 10:00 – 15:00

Location: Very close to Demachiyanagi Station at the 左京西部いきいき市民活動センター (Sakyou Nishibu Iki-iki Shimin Katsudou Center). Please note – it’s not the same location as last year!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Charles J. Hanley on the Korean peninsula: "Why has this state of no war, no peace dragged on for 60 years?"

(Map: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

This 2010 article by Pulitzer Prize-winning AP correspondent Charles J. Hanley is as relevant today as when first published.

Hanley, a rare example of a journalist of integrity sticking with a tough story over the long term, asks, "Why has this state of no war, no peace dragged on for 60 years? and the answers he receives all point to world powers manipulating the Korean peninsula to maintain the Cold War status quo:
South Korean scholar Hong believes four great powers -- the U.S. and Japan on one side, China and Russia on the other -- like it this way.

A unified Korea would align with one power or the other, upsetting the regional balance, said the former Korea University president, a prominent conservative commentator.

"By keeping Korea divided, they're in fact maintaining their own security," Hong said...

Despite normalizing relations with Moscow, Beijing and Vietnam, the U.S. "has chosen containment over engagement and peaceful coexistence with North Korea," he [historian Park Myung-lim] said.

"I don't understand -- Washington is much, much bigger and stronger than Pyongyang, but for 60 years they have failed to bring it into the international community, to invite them to the international community."

...Veteran Korea observer Selig A. Harrison, of the Washington research group Center for International Policy, sees "lots of missed opportunities for peace" over six decades of confrontation."
(Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek flank Roosevelt and Churchill at Cairo "where the U.S., Great Britain, and China signed a communiqué in December 1943. The three signatories proclaimed for the first time that Japan would forfeit its control over the Korean Peninsula...The initial plan concept for an occupied Korea did not envision a peninsula separated into two independent occupation forces, but a joint trusteeship occupation similar to that which they later coordinated in Austria. There the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and the United States were designated areas of administration coordinated by a central policy. Korea’s occupation divided the peninsula into two separate geographic and political zones. At the December 1945 Moscow Conference the Soviet Union and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to trusteeship and agreed that Korea would be granted its independence in five years, within which time the two superpowers would prepare the Korean people for general elections to form a unified Korean government. This plan never took hold. Within three years separate governments in the south and north were formed, which paved the way for all out war in June 1950." Text & photo: The Asia-Pacfic Journal)

Democracy Now!
interviewed Charles Hanley, co-author of The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War, after South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission released findings in 2008, "concluding the US military indiscriminately killed large groups of South Korean civilians during the Korean War in the early 1950s."

See also "North Korea's 100th – To Celebrate or To Surrender?" by Gavan McCormack and "Extended Nuclear Deterrence, Global Abolition, and Korea" by Peter Hayes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cherry Blossoms at Night in Tokyo's Nakameguro Neighborhood

This was taken in Nakameguro along the Meguro River, which has amazing views of the sakura. Last night the weather was wonderful and tons of people were out enjoying the food stalls. Photo: Kim Hughes

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Joy Kogawa on Easter Day 1945 (whenUS & Japan began the Battle of Okinawa) & Easter Day1995 (Okinawans pray for all the war dead)

Elder survivor pays respects at the Cornerstone of Peace memorial in Okinawa. 

Easter Sunday 1945, Okinawa: Americans began a military assault on Okinawa. The Imperial Japanese military government, staving off an invasion of the mainland, used the small island chain as a the site of a battle of attrition against the Americans.  Caught in the middle: Okinawan civilians. The Battle of Okinawa was the bloodiest battle and the last major campaign between Americans and Japanese in the Pacific. More bombs were dropped and more naval guns fired than during any other battle in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than during the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Easter Sunday 1995, Okinawa:  Okinawans engage in prayers for all who died in the Battle of Okinawa at the unveiling of the Cornerstone of Peace monument in Itoman. Mabuni Hill, the site of Imperial Japanese military headquarters and the site of heavy fighting during the last days of the Battle of Okinawa, was named a sacred site dedicated to peace. The naming of the war dead as a prayer for healing and peace continued for 12 weeks.

(The Cornerstone of Peace (平和の礎 Heiwa no Ishiji) is a monument commemorating those who lost their lives during the Battle of Okinawa. The names of nearly 241,000 people, mostly Okinawan civilians and also American, Japanese, & conscripted Okinawan. Korean, & Taiwanese soldiers, who died are inscribed on the memorial. The monument was unveiled on June 23, 1995 in memory of the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa and the end of World War II. Its purposes: (1) Remember those lost in the war, and pray for peace; (2) Pass on the lessons of war; and (3) Serve as a place for meditation and learning. Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

This excerpt from 'Three Deities," a speech Joy Kogawa gave in Stockholm in 2002 illuminates the profound meaning of the Okinawan culture of peace and examines its threat to the primitive forces of violence which destroyed Okinawa in 1945 and have held Okinawa hostage ever since:
My brother, a retired Episcopalian priest, was in Okinawa for a few years in the 90’s. He told me that in 1815, Captain Basil Hall of the British navy steamed into Naha, Okinawa and was amazed at what he found. The story goes, that on his way back to England, he dropped in to the island of St. Helena and had a chat with Napoleon.

“I have been to an island of peace,” the captain reported. “The island has no soldiers and no weapons.”

“No weapons? Oh, but there must be a few swords around,” Napoleon remarked.

“No. Even the swords have been embargoed by the king.”

Napoleon, we’re told, was astonished. “No soldiers, no weapons, no swords! It must be heaven.”

A unique culture of peace had developed in one tiny part of our warring planet. We might well wonder about the spiritual heritage of such a people. Today they boast not just the longest living humans in the world – the number of centenarians per 100,000 is six times that of the U.S. – but the world’s longest disability free life expectancy.

According to The Okinawa Program by Dr. Bradley Willcox, Dr. Craig Willcox and Dr. Makoto Suzuki, Okinawan society “… reflects a cultural cosmology where the female embodies and transmits sacred forces (shiji). Most Okinawan villages still have “divine priestesses,” called noro or nuru, whose job it is to commune with the gods and ancestors and serve as spiritual advisers. In fact, until the late nineteenth century, the king’s well-being and success as ruler depended on the spiritual sustenance granted by the high priestess (kikoe ogimi), who was of equivalent social standing. This is a unique cultural phenomenon. Although women act as religious functionaries in other societies, there is no other modern society in the world where women hold title as the main providers of religious services.”

When Japan, that once warring nation, took over the kingdom, there was an entirely bloodless coup. No soldiers were found to help later with the invasion of Korea. A disobedient people, Japan concluded. A kingdom without soldiers was clearly impossible. Okinawa, with its history of peace, must surely have had a culture as close to heaven as this planet has managed. And perhaps therefore a special target for the forces of hate.

On Easter day in 1945, on the day of triumph for the Prince of Peace, war came to the people of peace. The battle of Okinawa was the biggest land battle of history to that point. In twelve weeks, in eighty-four days, 234,000 people died, more than the people killed in August in the two atomic bombings.

My brother was in Okinawa in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the battle. Beginning at Easter, and for twelve weeks after, with the pastoral candle lit, a breathtaking action of speech took place. For two hours at noon and two hours at night, the dead were recalled and their names read. These were not just prayers for the Okinawan victims -- parents, grandparents, infants, schoolchildren, the familiar members of the community. The embracing in prayer included Japanese and American soldiers, those who had brought this disaster upon the most gentle of peoples. Here was mercy quietly demonstrated. It did not make headline news. But the Prince of Peace, mocked and murdered on Easter day 1945, was powerfully alive on Easter fifty years later.

In Okinawa’s Peace Park, the names are engraved on row upon row of granite slabs resembling the waves of the ocean nearby. A white towering structure encloses a huge statue of Kannon. She is described as an Asian symbol (with no deification) and is the central figure in the structure where each year on August 15 an interfaith service is held.

(Joy Kogawa and Reverend Timothy Nakayama.
Photo: Todd Wong, GungHaggisFatChoy

(Many thanks to Joy Kogawa for permission to excerpt this speech, published at positions: east asia cultures critique Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring 2005). Japanese Canadian author Joy Kogawa has long been a supporter of the Okinawan democracy and peace movement. Her brother, Reverend Timothy Nakayama, an Episcopalian minister, served in Okinawa after his retirement. Kogawa's former husband is an Okinawan Canadian whose family lost their home when the U.S. military seized their property to make way for a base. A longer excerpt of "Three Deities" is available online at "Common Ground".

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gavan McCormack: "Little basis for the view that North Korea poses a threat of regional aggression..."

(Gavan McCormack: "Note that this trajectory, traversing both China and Taiwan, would make any intervention by the US or Japan extremely difficult. Image: ROK

East Asia scholar Gavan McCormack brings his attention to the latest revival of the media and political theatrical drama, "Pyongyang Peril", now in its 62nd season, in this rational and multi-layered analysis at The Asia-Pacific Journal"North Korea's 100th – To Celebrate or To Surrender?":
Although there is no doubt that North Korea is a highly unpleasant dictatorship), there is little basis for the view that it poses a threat of regional aggression...

The real issue is the far too long continued state of "temporary" ceasefire on the peninsula. The task is to normalize relations between north and south and between North Korea and its former colonial master Japan and its bitter enemy of 62 years, the United States, and bring this country in from the "cold" of international isolation.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Minister of Nuclear Disaster Goshi Hosono: "Let's burn debris" street campaign in Kyoto, Japan

On March 31, 2012, the Minister of Environment & Nuclear Disaster Minister Goshi Hosono held a street campaign at Kyoto Station to persuade local people to deal with debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

Locals protested, concerned about nuclear radiation contamination and other public health (dioxin, asbestos, hexavalent chromium...) issues.

...via KJ on FB...

Local authorities around Japan have been given until April 6th to give their decision regarding whether or not to accept radioactive debris for incineration. 

See the details here and info on how to put pressure on your local authority
行動を起こしましょう! 圧力をかける方法: Don't Spread Gareki

You can check whether your local authority has already accepted debris (last updated March 30th)
More info: • "Government tabs 3 towns [Futaba, Okuma, Naraha] as dump sites for nuclear debris" (Asahi, March 11, 2012)

"Asbestos, dioxin threats in Japan tsunami rubble" (, April, 28, 2011)

"Hosono asks 43 prefectures to take debris from Tohoku" (Japan Today, Oct. 5, 2011)

"Goshi Hosono Short on Facts on Debris-Peddling Commercial" (EXSKF, March 18. 2012)

YouTube video of the recent Hosono advertisement asking Japanese prefectures to burn Tohoku debris, dissected by EXSKF, above.

"A new nightmare: Radioactive ash has nowhere to go" (Asahi, Feb. 29, 2012)

"Cesium in incinerator dust across east Japan (Kyodo, Aug. 28, 2011)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Two weekend 3.11-themed events encourage Tokyo residents to consider Tohoku realities

Top Right: Spring Love Harukaze

Bottom Left: Namida Project: Voices

Tokyo is a city with every possible sort of culture, subculture, and social activist-oriented organization in existence. With the array of events constantly on offer, I often find myself facing a dilemma choosing which ones to attend. This past weekend was a perfect example. I was scheduled to go to the Spring Love Harukaze event in Yoyogi Park as a member of its organizing committee, but another post 3.11-event scheduled at the same time, Namida Project: Voices, caught my attention.

"Voices" was advertised as a day-long event organized by a grassroots team of artists, designers, and activists known as the Namida Project. Held at the Shibaura House multi-media event space, it was to feature talk sessions, workshops, video screenings and musical performances to raise awareness and funds on behalf of the disaster regions. Even though it would require rushing across town and possibly shirking some of my responsibilities, I was determined to attend even for an hour or two.

I made it to the screening/director’s talk of Then and Now, Paul Richard Johannessen’s poignant short film exploring issues facing residents of Ishinomaki, a disaster-hit city in Tohoku . Although I had previously seen the documentary, I was anxious to speak with Toshihiko Fujita, one of the community leaders profiled in the film, whose volunteer group I had worked with during a previous visit to Ishinomaki. I would have to miss his talk since I had to leave early, but I did have a chance to speak with him before the session began. He told me he was glad to visit Tokyo to promote local Ishinomaki businesses that had restarted following the disaster, but were now in great need of assistance to survive—including the Kotobukiya saké shop, which was profiled in Then and Now, as well as in this excellent piece by photojournalist and seasoned volunteer Mike Connelly.

Fujita added that he had come bearing an important message for Tokyoites: "Build community before it’s too late." He pointed out that neighborhoods in Ishinomaki with tight relations prior to 3.11 had community soup kitchens up and running just days following the disaster, whereas those where neighbors barely knew each others’ names remained isolated, perhaps with stockpiled goods, but without the support of human connection. With the real possibility existing for disaster to hit Tokyo at any time, Fujita urged people here to learn critical lessons from Ishinomaki’s experience.

The additional "Voices" session that I was able to attend focused on health-related issues following the Fukushima disaster. Panelists explained in detail the environmental and health-related effects of radiation, pointing out that although many people tend to downplay its ill effects by citing naturally occurring forms of environmental radiation, the reality is that significant differences exists between natural radiation and the unnatural type released during the meltdowns—thereby indeed requiring caution.

Panelist Aya Marumori, Executive Health Director of the Citizens’ Radioactivity Measuring Station (CRMS), added that she routinely faced anger from some Fukushima residents who preferred to believe government explanations that the radiation emitted from the accident was “safe”, thereby resenting her taking measurements, and accusing her of “starting rumors.” Nevertheless, she voiced her determination to continue her efforts to empower local residents.

Discussion on health issues following Fukushima nuclear disaster, where panelist Aya Marumori utilizes props to explain the effects of radiation on the body

Similar messages were echoed several hours later across town at the Spring Love Harukaze event, during the panel discussion that I helped moderate on post-3.11 sustainability-related issues. Tokyo-based reggae singer Likkle Mai, whose seaside hometown of Miyako in Iwate prefecture sustained enormous damage from both the earthquake and tsunami, has spent much of the past year spearheading various disaster relief projects throughout Tohoku while simultaneously running her own record label. “It is heartbreaking that survivors have to deal not only with piecing back together their lives and livelihoods following the disaster, but must also face the realities of radiation,” she said. “I have visited Fukushima to do live performances, and although I must at times be careful about how I choose my words due to locally existing sensitivities, I am always clear about my fundamental anti-nuclear stance.”

Also on the panel were Masaru Kohsaka, who quit his job as an office worker to become an organic farmer and run his own café/bar in Tokyo; and Gota Matsumura, another Ishinomaki resident who appeared in Then and Now. He helped initiate Ishinomaki 2.0, an organization that helps to rebuild the city through grassroots projects including an art and design studio offering DIY workshops, a solar-powered café, a guesthouse, a bar, and more.

“Our project is about realizing that you can create anything that you envision, without waiting for some official to give you orders from above,” explained Matsumura. “Everything that we have achieved has been entirely from citizen-led initiatives."

This perspective was echoed by Kohsaka, author of a recent book called Downshifters, who explained that he embarked on this path to prove that it was possible to “shift down” to a lifestyle that might earn significantly less money (in his case, half of his previous earnings)—but that was far richer in terms of fulfillment. Serving as the discussion facilitator, he commented, “I think this is the common factor amongst all three of us: the fact that we have each taken life into our own hands, rather than waiting for some big conglomerate or corporation to do things for us.”

Peace Not War Japan members Kimberly Hughes (far left) and Miho Yazawa Niida (far right) flanking panelists Masaru Kohsaka, Likkle Mai and Gota Nishimura

The talk was fascinating, but heavy rains and freezing winds at the outdoor Yoyogi Park venue unfortunately meant that only a handful of people ended up hearing it. Luckily, Paul Johannesenn’s film crew was on hand to film the talk for use in a longer future documentary on post-disaster Ishinomaki—footage is below.

Although Saturday’s weather also meant that most of the festival was cancelled, Sunday was mild and gorgeous, with the sakura (cherry blossoms) just beginning to peek out. The day was a wonderful gathering that featured the fantastic live music that Spring Love Harukaze is famous for, as well as organic food and goods stalls, live painting, a skateboarding ramp, stages powered by fuel from PET bottle caps, a lively parade through the streets of Shibuya, appeals from Peace Not War Japan for participants to support the anti-base movements in Okinawa and on Korea’s Jeju Island, and much more.

With the new fiscal year beginning in Japan, the first week of April is traditionally a time when everyone makes a fresh start at schools, companies, and in their lives in general. The reality that many people prefer to forget or ignore—particularly those in Tokyo—is that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant remains far from under control.  A sizeable earthquake could create enough damage to expose nuclear fuel rods.  This would result in unthinkable levels of radiation exposure over a wide area, including the capital.

To borrow metaphors from the titles of these weekend events, it is hoped that the voices of those in Tokyo and Tohoku were able to reach one another along the harukaze (spring winds), with the former being more aware of ongoing hardships for those in the disaster regions while simultaneously re-thinking their own futures in more sustainable terms.

Toru Kimura and Nicholas Ree discussing issues of post-3.11 youth-led activism, disaster reconstruction and nuclear issues together with Peace Not War Japan moderator Miho Yazawa Niida during a panel discussion held on Sunday

--Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

4.3 Jeju Island: 1948 & 2012

Child survivors made homeless by the 4/3 Jeju Island massacre, May 1948.
Photo: The Asia Pacific Journal

Via Regina Pyon:" In front of Jeju provincial government building...Gangjeong villagers and their supporters have engaged in a sit-in since March 26, 2012, protesting the explosive blasting of their farms, homes, and coastline that the S. Korean government seized (without due process). The Jeju Governor demanded a halt of the destruction, but Seoul ignored him. Mayor Kang is speaking; the sign on his back says "Let's Save Gangjeong." Image: Photo diary of Gangjeong by director Cho.

The ongoing conflict between the South Korean government and Jeju residents over state seizure of private property and forced construction of a nuclear naval base on Jeju Island has opened unhealed decades-old collective psychological trauma from the 1948 state massacre of most of the island's inhabitants.

From August 15, 1945 to August 15, 1948, the U.S. Army Military Government (USAMGIK) was the sole legal authority in Korea south of the thirty-eighth parallel. (Under secret protocols, the U.S. also had operational control of the South Korean armed forces and national police from August 15, 1948 to June 30, 1949.) Similarly to previous Japanese colonial rule, South Korean security forces under U.S. jurisdiction brutally repressed Jeju Islanders who protested horrific living conditions and political subjugation, including the U.S.-sponsored "South only" elections to be held in May, 1948.

When protests escalated into a popular uprising, security forces retaliated with mass killings and destruction of homes and villages on April 3, 1948. Peace Island, a journal published by Jeju University's Institute of Peace Studies, described conditions across Jeju in the 1940's:
...struck by infectious diseases, years of famine, lack of basic foods, and a high unemployment rate.
Jeju Weekly reported:
Most people know that this hauntingly beautiful island earned UNESCO World Natural Heritage status, but what fewer know is the fact that, after the 1950 Korean War, April 3, 1948 was the largest massacre in Korea's modern history. Scars of the onslaught are omnipresent on the island. Oreum seen everywhere on Jeju are not only secondary volcanic cones, but are also often the graveyard of many souls.
More than half of Jeju Island's villages were destroyed and between 30-60,000 people killed. 40,000 Jeju Islanders sought refuge in Japan; survivors, descendants, and family members still live in Osaka's "Jeju Town." (Osaka-born novelist Kim Suok Puom, whose family originated in Jeju Island, explored human and historical contexts of the uprising and massacre in his novel, Volcano Island.)

University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings revealed details of the 1948 Jeju massacre in a paper presented at the 50th Anniversary Conference of the April 3, 1948 Chejudo Rebellion, Tokyo, March 14, 1998: '"The Question of American Responsibility for the Suppression of the Chejudo Uprising", concluding:
The primary cause of the South Korean insurgency was the social inequity of land relations and the huge gap between a tiny elite of the rich and the vast majority of the poor. The North Koreans were barely involved, and indeed the strongest leftwing regions were precisely those furthest from the 38th parallel.

But on Cheju Island these same conditions were inflamed by a brutal Japanese occupation that led to a vast uprooting of the population, the simple justice of the popular administration that took effective power on the island in 1945 and held it until 1948, and the elemental injustice of the mainlander dictatorship that Syngman Rhee imposed and that the American legal authorities did nothing about--except to aid and abet it.

If it should come to pass that any Koreans succeed in gaining compensation from the American Government for the events of 1945 to 1953, certainly the people of Cheju should come first. For it was on that hauntingly beautiful island that the postwar world first witnessed the American capacity for unrestrained violence against indigenous peoples fighting for self-determination and social justice.
For decades afterwards, the South Korean military dictatorship silenced any mention of the 3.4 killings on Jeju Island. However after President Rhee resigned following the April 19, 1960 Student Uprising, surviving families began to speak out. Kim Dong choon explains in "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea: Uncovering the Hidden Korean War" published at The Asia-Pacific Journal on March 10, 2010:
The Jeju April 3 incident of 1948 occurred shortly before the first general election, and was unique in the number of victims, and the lasting effect on the Jeju Island. Embedded in a strong collective regional identity, the Jeju people’s tragedy became a popular theme for novels and poems.

...the Jeju Incident succeeded in drawing the active support of intellectuals and activists and received wide local media attention. Its historical importance in the road to the establishment of the divided governments in the Korean peninsula and the strong sense of collective victimization of Jeju people contributed to making it a national agenda after democratization. The transformation of the political and ideological landscape conditioned by democratization, along with supporters petitioning for reconciliation, emboldened the surviving families to divulge their stories.

Scholars and journalists have confirmed that most of the victims of the Incident were innocent civilians, whose stories are now told in the April 3 Peace Park and Memorial Museum which opened in 2008...

Prayers at the wall inscribing the names of the estimated 30,000 Jeju victims in the Jeju Peace Memorial Park. Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal

The Jeju committee also completed its investigation and began preparing for reconciliation. However, doubts remain as to whether the Jeju committee can fully reveal the truth of the Jeju Massacres and and identities of the victims.

The most sensitive investigation has involved the role of the U.S. military during counterinsurgency operations against rebel forces. While the final report failed to confirm or spell out a U.S. role, it concluded that 86% of the 14,373 deaths reported were committed by security forces including the National Guard, National Police, and rightist groups.
In 2000, Seoul passed a Special Law to investigate and report the truth of what happened at Jeju Island in 1948. A final law, "Restoring the Honor of the Victims," was enacted to restore the honor of victims who had long been branded communists. Since 2005, Jeju has been described as "Peace Island." On April 3, 2006, President Roh Mu‐hyun visited Jeju and officially apologized for the abuses perpetrated by the previous government and expressed his condolences to victims and their descendants still living on Jeju Island.

Sung-Hee Choi on the April 3, 2011 march in Jeju City: "The island-level memorial ceremony, Jeju 4.3, was held in pouring rain at the Jeju Peace Memorial Park at 11 am, April 3. Despite the criticism of Jeju Islanders, President Lee Myung-Bak did not come and instead the prime minister came who made clear the government’s will to forcefully drive the naval base construction in the Gangjeong village, to the fury of the villagers...Film critic Yang Yoon-Mo said that 4.3 was special for him because one of his grandmother’s brothers had been one of the first victims of police killings during the March 1 independence protest in 1948, which developed into the Jeju uprising on April 3, 1948. He expressed his resolute decision to fight against naval base construction which can be called as the second 4. 3. Many people resonated to his remarks." Photo: Media Jeju via No Base Stories Korea.

Now the Lee administration is undoing the long-overdue redress and historical healing. In 2010, Seoul forcibly removed (without due process) the villagers of Gangjeong, on the island's southern coast from their privately owned farms and homes. This year, the South Korean military and two military-industrial companies, Daelim and Samsung, began explosive demolition of this property and the most beautiful coastline in Jeju, an environmentally protected biosphere, soft coral reef, and South Korea's only natural dolphin habitat. Seoul has sent tens of thousands of miitary police to violently suppress the nonviolent resistance of the Gangjeong villagers, environmentalist and peace activists, and the Christian and Buddhist clergy who support them.

Via Save Jeju Island: "After the Catholic mass at the gate of Jeju military base construction site on April 3, 2012, priests are cutting up a SAMSUNG [corporate driver of the seizure & destruction of Gangjeong farmland] credit card. . . 'No more SAMSUNG.' Yesterday Bp. Simon Ok Hyun-jin, Auxiliary Bishop of the Gwangju Archdiocese, officiated a Catholic mass at the gate of Jeju millitary base site on April 2. About 80 Catholic priests from mainland particpated in the mass including Fr. Chun Jong-hoon, representative of Korean Catholic Priests' Association for Justice."

In so doing, President Lee has resurrected the undemocratic, militaristic practices of South Korea's postwar dictatorship and reopened the wounds of April 3, 1948. As in 1948, Indigenous residents of Jeju Island and their supporters are again fighting for self-determination, democratic process, and the right to a peaceful existence. They are also fighting for their land, sea, and livelihoood at Gangjeong Village. Many say they are also fighting for the soul of South Korea.

Via Paco Booyah: "Right now [4.3.2012] in Gangjeong. Standoff between the police and a group of Presbyterian pastors. For more than four hours on a very cold windy day and still ongoing. At the end of a march, the pastors began to break the illegal wall surrounding the illegal base and keeping everyone from their free and rightful access to Gureombi. Earlier this week, the police violently assaulted Pastor Song Young Seop [jumped, kicked by police]. Since that time we have demanded an apology for this excessive violence. The pastors said they will stay here and also break the wall until there is an apology or until they are all arrested."