Jeju Island 2015: Where it All Began

Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, South Korea. August 15, 2015. Three years later.

Me filming_1

Much has changed in Gangjeong. The massive, and I mean massive, naval base to accommodate America’s “Pivot to Asia” is nearing completion.

Seeing it made me angry, and reminded me once again of my dear friend Dud Hendrick’s powerful words in The Ghosts of Jeju. He asked, “Is there any place so remote, so beautiful, so sacred as to be inviolable by the U.S. military? And when you think about it, there is no such place.”




IMG_6381Base housing in foreground fronting Tiger Island.


From  Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to all of the islands of the Pacific from Hawaii down to the Marshall Islands including Japan, Okinawa, Jeju, Guam and the Philippines,  America has killed millions of indigenous peoples, stolen their land and their resources and made them colonies of the U.S.. These are all horrendous crimes against nature and humanity.

When one visits Hiroshima, Okinawa and Jeju, as I am doing now, the truth about  America’s past of global aggression becomes tragically clear. If Americans can admit that the entire American narrative is a lie, then, and only then, can Americans take responsibility for the actions of their government and hope to become an equal member of the human race.

What hasn’t changed in Gangjeong is the 8 year, ongoing, non-violent protest against this base. While there are fewer activists because of the attrition caused by over 600 arrests, 30 imprisonments, and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the brave few remain.



The daily ritual of 100 bows at 7 am followed by Catholic mass and rosary at 11 am continue without pause. Because dozens of cement trucks and construction vehicles come and go all day and during the mass, the police clear the gates to allow them to pass. It is remarkable how gentle and respectful the police are these days, obvious that some sympathize with the activists, but avoid conversation and eye contact.

Me and police shuttle best

Me doing the dance

And as always, the action ends with several spirited songs and, the now famous, Gangjeong dancing.

The struggle here in Gangjeong is an important symbol for the peace, human rights, and environmental movements around the world. I believe the spirit of revolution is stirring in all parts of the planet and our only hope for survival is for a massive, global convergence of awareness that rises up and says NO to the evil systems that threaten our very lives.

Jesuit father Kim, when I asked him why the Jesuits have established a permanent house here and why he remains, said, “because there is evil on the other side of this wall, and we must remain here to stop it.”





Japan: Another Occupied Country

IMG_4533This is a view of the beautiful Oura Bay in Henoko, Okinawa where the U.S. military has begun construction of a massive multi-function base to include two airstrips, a deep water base to accommodate U.S. aircraft carries and supply ships.

I was fortunate to go out into Oura Bay in a boat with other visitors including reporters from the two local newspapers, one of whom ran an article with a picture of me.

IMG_4562Camp Schwb is a massive U.S. Marine base on the shores of Oura Bay. The new base will be constructed to the right of this photo. The plan is to dump tons and tons of gravel t and concrete to fill in the bay in order to extend the runways out into the bay.

As the S. Koreans destroyed the beautiful seashore in Gangjeong Village, the Japanese are doing the same to accommodate America’s plan to add more bases and military installations. In the process, America continues to displace indigenous people, take their land, and destroy some of the most remote, beautiful, pristine and sacred places all over the world.

IMG_4577This was our welcoming. The Japanese Coast Guard and national police. There were at least 20 boats with teams of Coast Guard patrolling the waters and denying our boat entry into the restricted area. Two large yachts commanded the operation.


I spent three days in Henoko filming interviews with local mayors and activists from July 26-29. I will return to Okinawa for three more days of filming and interviewing where I will be aided by several women who are professional interpreters and a young man who was born and raised in Tokyo to a English father and Japanese mother. So, he’s fluent in both languages, actually sounds like an American. Ian Schimizu has also been indispensable, carrying my heavy bags full of equipment.

It becomes readily apparent that like S. Korea, Japan is an occupied country with some 50,000 US military personnel on more than 40 bases. But what is most alarming is the fact that 70% of the American presence is located in Okinawa.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have seen The Ghosts of Jeju and who have welcomed me with open arms and offered to assist me in any way they can.

Mariko Kurioka, a Japanese woman who was part of a team that translated Ghosts into Japanese, presented me with $2,400 from sales of the film in Japan and Okinawa.

Today, Sunday, August 2nd, I fly back to Okinawa for three more days of filming before continuing on to Hiroshima for the 70th anniversary on August 6.