South Korea: activists converge on Jeju Island for anti-base protest

Hundreds of activists from throughout South Korea have gathered in force on Jeju Island, off the country’s southern coast, to hold a “peace event” aimed at halting construction of a naval base slated to be used by US forces. The event, including a concert and cultural activities, opened Sept. 3—one day after riot police dispersed protesters at the island’s Gangjeong village, who held a sit-in to block construction equipment. After the blockade was broken, and 38 arrested, work crew commenced construction of a perimeter fence around the construction site.

On Aug. 28, the Jeju District Court ruled in favor of the Korean navy, upholding an injunction barring protests at the site and imposing a fine of 2 million won (roughly $1,900) for each violation. The base, slated for completion in 2014, will accommodate some 20 naval vessels. Opponents fear local ecological and cultural impacts, and say it will heighten South Korea’s tensions with China. (Yonhap News Agency, Sept. 3; Korea Times, Aug. 31)

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