Residents of Gangjeong, the village of Jeju Island designated as the site of a naval base, have been vigorously protesting the construction of the military project which began in 2006. The island rests 56 miles off of the mainland’s southeast coast. With support from protesters beyond the island, development has been halted seven times. Notable figures have also joined the cause, including Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned professor at MIT, and feminist activist Gloria Steinem.
Protest primarily arises from two factors. One is that the area—recognized as the “Island of World Peace”—would inherit environment issues pertaining to the massive construction. The other lies in the fact that many believe the base to house a missile defense system to be used by the United States—an avid supporter of the military development. This would create a conflict for Koreans who view the U.S. as their main security partner and China as their top trade partner, reports the Washington Times.
Hundreds of supporters who are against the naval base are scheduled to hold a protest in front of the White House this Thursday, October 13, when South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak visits President Obama for an official State Dinner.
For new developments and/or more information on how you can help Jeju Island, go to http://www.savejejuisland.org
[Photos: Kim Ho-Cheon/Yonhap/Reuters; Gloria Steinem: Regina Pyon,/SPARK]