Construction of Disputed Naval Base Resumes on Jeju Island

Construction of a naval base has resumed on Jeju Island after the Jeju district court on Aug. 29 granted an injunction to the government and Navy banning protestors from obstructing construction of the base. The Navy says having a base in Jeju is crucial for national security as the island sits in a strategic location facing the South China Sea.

Lee Eun-kook of the Navy said, "Korea needs a base to dock naval ships to protect its Exclusive Economic Zone and marine resources, and Gangjeong village on Jeju island is the optimal place for that."

Four days after the court's decision, additional police were sent into the village as the navy installed a 200-m fence and resumed construction.

Last Thursday, a group of progressive activists and local villagers held a press conference denouncing the Navy for resuming construction and destroying rare rocks and called on the Jeju residents and politicians to show support. Not all villagers are against the base, but those in favor say they were intimidated into keeping quiet. Some villagers blame outside activists for making the problem worse.

Construction of the long-disputed base began in 2007 when the Jeju provincial government approved Gangjeong village's application to become one of the candidate sites for the base. Gangjeong villagers who oppose the base argue that the village vote was rushed through without their knowledge.

A total of W977 billion (US$1=W1,077) will be spent on the construction of the base by 2014.

Arirang News / Sep. 14, 2011 12:39 KST