Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chomsky Korea Naval Base

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Korean artist Koh Gill-chun, activist advocating for Gangjeong Village residents in Jeju's Seogwipo against the government's plans to build a naval base, hold signboards reading "Repeal the Naval Base Plans!" and "Protect Gangjeong!" at Chomsky's office at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sept. 16.

They discussed the naval base resistance and strategies for the road ahead for the Save Jeju Island campaign. Chomsky reaffirmed his complete support for the villagers, watched videos of their efforts and read a letter from the imprisoned Gangjeong Village Mayor Kang Dong-kyun. Chomsky says he has been deeply saddened by the news of Kang's arrest and greatly admires his courage.


Jeju-do[1] Population     531,887 (transliterated Korean for Jeju Province, short form of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province or Cheju Island) is the only special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. Its capital is the city of Jeju.

The island contains the Natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes.

According to legend, three demi-gods emerged from Samsung-hyeol which is said to have been on the northern slopes of Mt. Halla and became the progenitors of the Jeju people who founded the Kingdom of Tamna.

It has also been claimed that three brothers including Ko-hu who were the 15th descendants of Koulla, one of the Progenitors of the Jeju people, were received by the court of Silla at which time the name Tamna was officially recognized, while the official government posts of Commander, Prince and Governor were conferred by the court upon the three.

However, there is no concrete evidence of when the "Three Names" (Samseong-Ko, Yang and Pu) appeared nor for the exact date of when Ko-hu and his brothers were received by Silla. It may be supposed that the founding Period by the "Three Names" occurred during the Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla) period on the mainland of Korea.

Taejo, founder of Goryeo, attempted to establish the same relationship between Goryeo and Tamna as Tamna had had with Silla. Tamna refused to accept this position and the Goryeo court dispatched troops to force Tamna to submit. Ko ja-gyeon, chief of Tamna, submitted to Goryeo in 938 and sent his son, Prince Mallo, to Goryeo's court as a de-facto hostage. In 1105 (King Sukjong's 10th year), the Goryeo court abolished the name Takna which had to this time been used and from that year on, the island was known as "Tamna-gun" (district) and Goryeo officials were sent to handle the affairs of the island.

Tamna-country was changed to Tamna-county in 1153 during the reign of King Uijong and Choi Cheok-kyeong was posted as Tamna-Myeong or Chief of Tamna. In 1121 during Huijong's reign, Tamna was renamed "Jeju" and the posts of Judiciary were established on the island.

In 1271, General Kim Tong-jeong escaped with what remained of his Sambyeolcho force from Jindo and built the Hangpadu Fortress at Kwiil-chon from where they continued their fight against the combined Korean government-Mongolian army but within 2 years, faced by an enemy army of over 10,000 troops, the Sambyeolcho was annihilated.

The Jeju Uprising, which began on April 3, 1948, was part of a larger problem across Korea at this time. The rebellions on Jeju-do, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of officials, armed organizations, and villagers alike culminated in widespread violence on the island and the center of the island (Halla Mountain) being listed as an "enemy zone" by the government of the Republic of Korea. Over 30,000 people were killed as some villagers and communist radicals alike were imprisoned in internment camps under the policies of mainland government.[3]

While claims have been made that the US government oversaw and supported "anti-communist" activities administratively if not openly in the field, validation remains to be made. It is a fact the US was heavily involved in counter insurgence operations across Korea at this time leading up to the Korean War and UN involvement. Similarly, the Northwest Youth League, a Korean government sponsored watch-dog group made up of refugees who had fled northern Korea, actively repressed any and all "communist sympathizers" with an ardent campaign of shooting anyone on sight entering or leaving the president's "enemy zone", raping/violation, torturing, and killing hundreds of islanders using open armed violence and what would be labeled today as terrorist activities. Intolerance by mainland Korean officials of islanders in general at the time, government and organization sponsored isolation of the island, and rumored cover up of evidence linking the rebellion's suppressors with foreign powers and people who have today gone un-prosecuted is believed to be the primary cause of public ignorance, hedging on denial, over the April 3, 1948 genocide on Cheju-do. A documentary by the BBC and PBS, Korea: The Unknown War and many activities and publications by organizations and persons from within Cheju-do and around the world continue to attempt shedding the light on this event.

The provincial administrative building was burned to the ground in September 1948 and a new building was completed in 1-do, 2-dong in December, 1952.

Construction of a naval base

In June 2007, the Korean government selected Gangjeong, a village on the southern coast of the island, as the site of a $970 million naval base.[4] The base is to house twenty warships, including submarines.[5]

In January 2010, the South Korean Navy signed two contracts with two construction firms to build pier facilities.[4]; construction began in January 2011.[5] By August, about 14 percent of the contract had been spent on initial construction work, but significant progress had not been made due to local resistance to the base.[4]

Trying to prevent dredging and bulldozing, residents of Gangjeong have been living in tents in and near areas where construction is planned or ongoing. In addition to protests, the villagers have filed lawsuits to try to block construction, and have widely publicized their opposition.[6] The government has responded by stationing hundreds of police officers at the construction site, charging and fining protestors for obstruction, and jailing peace activist Choi Sung-hee [7] for three months.

The South Korean Navy has erected a billboard in the village displaying an artist's conception of a state-of-the-art, "eco-friendly" port, covering about 125 acres and receiving luxury cruise ships as well as military vessels.[5] In August 2011, a spokesperson for the Korean Government said that the construction site was selected after accommodating opinions of local residents, that environmental assessments had shown the project would have no effect on the environment, and that measures were being taken to protect vulnerable species native to the island.[8]

Historical names

Historically, the island has been called by many different names including:

    Doi (??, ??, literally "Island barbarian")
    Dongyeongju (???, ???)
    Juho (??, ??)
    Tammora (???, ???)
    Seomna (??, ??)
    Tangna (??, ??)
    Tamna (??, ??)
    Quelpart (q.v. gyulbat, ??, ??, literally "orange orchards")

Before the Japanese annexation in 1910, the island was usually known as Quelpart to Europeans. The name "Quelpart" apparently came from the first European ship to spot the island, the Dutch "Quelpaert", which sighted it after being blown off course on its way to the Dutch trading base in Nagasaki, Japan, from Taiwan (then the Dutch colony of Formosa).

When Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910, Jeju then became known as Saishu-, which is the Japanese reading of the hanja for Jeju.

Before 2000, when the Seoul government changed the official Romanization of Hangul, Jeju-do was spelled Cheju-do. Almost all written references to the island before that use that spelling.


Jeju Island is a volcanic island, dominated by Halla-san (Halla Mountain): a volcano 1,950 metres (6,400 ft) high and the highest mountain in South Korea. The island measures approximately 175 miles (282 km) across, end to end, at the widest points.

The island was created entirely from volcanic eruptions approximately 2 million years ago, during the time period from the Tertiary to the beginning of the Quaternary period, and consists chiefly of basalt and lava. The eruptions took place in the Cenozoic era. It has a humid subtropical climate, warmer than that of the rest of Korea, with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool and dry while summers are hot, humid, and sometimes rainy.

There is a crater lake which is the only crater lake in South Korea.[citation needed]

An area covering about 12% (224 square kilometres or 86 square miles) of Jeju is known as Gotjawal Forest.[9] This area had remained untouched until the 21st century, as its base of ?A?a- lava made it difficult to develop for agriculture. Because this forest remained untouched for a long time, it has a unique ecology.[10] The forest is the main source of groundwater, the main water source for the half millon people of the island, because rainwater penetrates directly into the groundwater aquifer through the cracks of the ?A?a- lava under the forest. Gotjawal forest is considered an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention by some researchers[11] because it is the habitat of unique species of plants and is the main source of water for the residents, although to date it has not been declared a Ramsar site

Because of the relative isolation of the island, the people of Jeju have developed a culture and language that are distinct from those of mainland Korea. Jeju is home to thousands of local legends. Perhaps the most distinct cultural artifact is the ubiquitous dol hareubang ("stone grandfather") carved from a block of basalt.

Another distinct aspect of Jeju is the matriarchal family structure, found especially in Udo and Mara, but also present in the rest of the province. The best-known example of this is found among the haenyeo ("sea women"), who were often the heads of families, because they controlled the income. They earned their living from free diving, often all year round in quite cold water, without scuba gear, in order to harvest abalones, conchs, and a myriad of other marine products. It is thought that women are better at spending all day deep-water diving because they resist cold better.[18] However, because of rapid economic development and modernization, few haenyeo are still actively working today.[19][20]


Bangsatap are small, round towers made of many stones. There are many Bangsataps and you can see them near the countryside in Jeju. People usually pile up many stones, making a shape like a tower in order to protect themselves from the bad luck in their village. They have built Bangsatap according to the theory of divination because they believe that geography is very important in choosing the right place for them. It is also a good example to demonstrate religious belief in Jeju island because it is an object that people can rely on putting rice paddle inside the Bangsatap to gather as much money as possible and also putting an iron pot to overcome a disaster and fight fire in their village. Nobody knows that when the Bangsatap was built in the past year.

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posted by u2r2h at 12:41 AM


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