This is the introduction to a new series called The Spirit of Gangjeong. It is sort of a sequel to the Ghosts of Jeju. I have created this series to keep the focus on the courageous, peaceful people of Gangjeong who are protesting against war, militarism, the denial of human rights, and the destruction of the environment.
For the first time in the 200 year Korean Catholic history, a Korean nun has been indicted for her role in the peaceful, non-violent protest against the construction of the naval base on Jeju Island that will accommodate the U.S. “pivot to Asia.”
Catholic priests and nuns from Jeju and the mainland have been protesting daily for seven years along with the people of Gangjeong Village and activists from around the world.
I had the privilege and honor to meet Sister Stella while I was there in September of 2012. We had been seated together for dinner on the evening before Sister Stella would return home to Seoul when she asked if I would interview her. With darkness approaching, she positioned herself in front of a fire pit and let it rip without me even asking her a question.
This interview appears in my documentary The Ghosts of Jeju and has been seen now by hundreds of people in the U.S. and in more than a dozen countries around the world. Sister Stella’s sincerity, honesty, and blunt remarks about U.S. imperialism have moved all who have seen the film.
She will undoubtedly be fined a large amount of money as have the more than 600 peace activists who have already been arrested, and quite possibly she will serve time in jail.
Here is that interview again.
To date, the film has been screened in several states, and over a dozen countries, all with wonderful reviews. Screenings are now being organized in Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Seattle where I will present the film. Other screenings are in the planning stages for Charlottesville, VA, Chicago, and Daytona Beach, Fl.
So, while mainstream outlets have shown no interest in the documentary, peace and justice organizations and veterans groups are spreading it far and wide.
The latest news from Jeju indicates that construction of the base continues at a frantic pace, and construction of a new U.S. Naval Operations Headquarters in Busan is underway. Without fail, the activists and Catholic priests and nuns block the gates seven days a week and where Catholic mass is celebrated daily at 11 am.
Three activists are still serving lengthy jail sentences among them Professor Yang, the noted Korean film critic who was visited by Oliver Stone when he visited Jeju in August.
My plea in The Ghosts of Jeju was that with knowledge comes responsibility, and the least all of us can do is to amplify their voices. In addition to letter-writing, sending donations to Gangjeong Village, and going there in person, one of the best ways is to use The Ghosts of Jeju to tell their story.
The Ghosts of jeju will not stop the construction of this base which will destroy Gangjeong, a 400 yr old farming and fishing village, but perhaps it is playing a small role in opposing the military advance of the United States and the march towards full-spectrum dominance of the planet.
“I saw your film, The Ghosts of Jeju – thank you for this impressive film!
I visited Jeju first in 1994 and I was in Gangjeong in 2010, already before the construction work started, SONG Kang-Ho and CHOI Sung-Hee are friends.
Your film really connects very well the history starting from the time of colonialism and all the American influences in Korea afterwards, the facts about the Jeju massacre which is important to understand the reactions of Jeju people….. and your film really is a cry for peace and lesser militarism in this world! Thank you for this film!
A friend proposed to show the film eventually in a cinema in Berlin to the public.
And I will try to write a film critic for a small magazine called “Korea-Info” published for interested church people in Germany.”
In deep solidarity
Gisela – Stuttgart, Germany
Morgana Warner-Evans did a wonderful job with this story. She’s a college student and peace activist from Topsham, Maine.
Local filmmaker documents ‘Ghosts of Jeju’
THE DOCUMENTARY, “The Ghosts of Jeju,” focuses on a six-year campaign the people of Jeju Island have waged against a South Korean naval base being built in Gangjeong Village. Here, people lie down during their daily protest of the construction. The day typically ends with a vigil.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among them being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Regis Tremblay reads these words near the beginning of his film “The Ghosts of Jeju,” and immediately the sound of the U.S. Air Force Band is replaced by the sound of gunshots; the American flag fluttering on the screen is replaced by photos of Korean civilians killed on April 3, 1948.
It’s a sight, he says, that would probably shock and surprise most Americans.
CONCRETE TETRAPODS can be seen at the site of a future military base on Jeju Island in South Korea. Activists allege the base, being built in Gangjeong Village, will be used by the U.S. military. “The Korean war is always referred to as ‘the forgotten war,’” Tremblay said. “And really what it was was ‘the hidden war,’ because strict censorship was imposed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the entire military command.”
Now Tremblay, an independent documentary filmmaker from Woolwich, has filmed, produced and narrated a documentary that he says demonstrates the hidden abuses of the U.S. government in Korea during the postwar era.
“The Ghosts of Jeju” focuses on a six-year campaign the people of Jeju Island have waged against a South Korean naval base being built in Gangjeong (pronounced “kangjung”) Village. Activists allege the base will be used by the U.S. military.
AUTHORITIES deal with a protester in the documentary, “The Ghosts of Jeju,” which will be screened Sunday at Grace Episcopal Church, 1100 Washington St., in Bath. COURTESY OF REGIS TREMBLAY But the video takes more into account regarding the United States’ treatment of Korea after the war, including a little-known massacre of South Korean peasants and villagers in 1948.
Tremblay traveled to Korea to take footage and interview citizens protesting the Korean base in September 2012.
“I thought I was going (to Jeju) just to document another protest against war, but after spending a month there, I discovered that this story was much much bigger than just a protest on Jeju Island against the building of this base,” Tremblay said.
It was there that he learned about “horrendous atrocities and massacres” of Korean peasants and civilians at the hands of “the United States military government of Korea” in 1948.
Tremblay, who was born and raised in Waterville and moved away for high school before relocating to Woolwich, said he learned that as many as 60,000 peasants were massacred by South Korean security forces trained, equipped and commanded directly by the United States who were resisting the American occupation of Korea after World War II.
The 1948 protesters also opposed the installation of Syngman Rhee as president of the country, and the division of the country at the 38th Parallel after they were promised elections and unification, Tremblay said.
In the film, survivors testify about what they saw at the April 3, 1948, massacre.
The film shows photos of the Peace Museum on Jeju Island, built to commemorate the massacre: A jumble of sculpted heads, screaming, lies on the floor; the statue of a woman who was shot as she tried to escape crouches around her child.
The film also contains photos intent on showing the natural beauty of Jeju Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose rare flora and fauna activists say would be compromised by the military base.
Bruce Gagnon, a peace activist from Bath, has visited Jeju Island three times, and said the naval base shows “America’s disregard for culture, for nature, the endangered.
“(Something) that has a big effect on me is the (destruction of the) soft coral reefs offshore,” he said.
In the film, the villagers protest threats the new base presents to their traditional fishing and farming community. Along with international visitors, they sit in front of the gates to block construction multiple times each day until they are hauled away by police. They end each day with song and dance to keep their spirits up.
A famous Korean film critic from Jeju Island, Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, says in the film, “For the next thirty years, I will live only for my hometown … Jejudo is such a beautiful island. I can’t watch it being destroyed … I will lay down my life for that.”
“The thing that is so remarkable about the people in Gangjeong Village is that all day, every day, and for six years they’ve been laying their bodies down to protest the construction of that base and yet … at the end of every day, they typically have a candlelight vigil and they sing and they dance and this sense of community is really mindblowing,” said Tremblay.
Among the protesters are a great number of people of the faith community. One of them is Sister Stella Cho, a nun from Seoul.
“I didn’t even have to ask her any questions. I just put the camera on her and she rattled on. It was amazing,” Tremblay said, adding that Sister Stella’s interview was originally not going to be in the film because it was taken in poor lighting conditions.
Tremblay said the film has had approximately the same reaction everywhere it’s been shown — from Sweden to the Philippines, from Brunswick to Nepal.
“Regardless of where they are in the world, they all are troubled by the violation of human rights, the destruction of the environment.
“What’s interesting though, is this is no surprise to the rest of the world, but it’s shocking for Americans to learn about what’s been done in their name.”
He said that one message he wants people to take away from the film is the one at the end: “What’s really important and what’s really at stake is not which system is better and who is more powerful. What’s at stake is the survival of us as a species. … And that is the message of Jeju: the least we can do is amplify their voices.”
The film will be shown on Sunday, Aug. 18, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the Grace Episcopal Church, 1100 Washington St., in Bath. A trailer can be viewed at www.theghostsofjeju.net.
Morgana Warner-Evans is a Times Record intern.
¦ “THE GHOSTS OF JEJU,” a
film by Regis Tremblay of
When: 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 18
Where: Grace Episcopal
Church, 1100 Washington
Video @ www.timesrecord.com
I will let this article in the Hankyoreh English version newspaper speak about Oliver’s visit to Jeju this past weekend.
Oliver Stone joins Jeju residents’ battle against naval base
Posted on : Aug.5,2013 12:00 KST
Film director Oliver Stone shakes hands with priests and brothers Moon Jeong-hyun (right) and Moon Kyu-hyun at a concert supporting the opposition to the construction of a naval base in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, August 3. (by Ryu Woo-jong, staff photographer)
Acclaimed director is touring Asia in criticism of the US government’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy
By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent “Ever since the Second World War, the US has been building military alliances and setting up military bases overseas. A lot of those bases are in Japan and Korea. Jeju Island is less than 500 kilometers from Shanghai. It could end up on the front lines if a military conflict breaks out between the US and China.”
Internationally renowned filmmaker Oliver Stone said this about the naval base currently under construction on Jeju Island. The 67-year-old director, whose works on the Vietnam War include “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July,” met with the Hankyoreh on Aug. 3 at the Peace Center in Gangjeong Village in Jeju.
Noting the US’s overseas military strategy, Stone said the issue with the Jeju base was “global, not regional.”
“The Obama administration has adopted a ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy as a way of containing China,” he said. “It’s similar to the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War. And in its push to do this, Washington has built or is building military alliances not just with South Korea and Japan, but with the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Cambodia, and Myanmar. It’s a foolish, paranoid strategy.”
In view of this strategy, the Jeju naval base may be a military extension of the US forces, who could eventually end up using it, Stone said.
The director said he came to Jeju after seeing documentaries by US directors on Gangjeong Village and the April 3 Uprising of 1948 and reading articles on the villagers battle against the construction.
“I wanted to see for myself,” he said. He arrived on the island on Aug. 2 for a three-day stay.
As soon as he arrived, he went to visit film critic Yang Yun-mo, who was arrested while campaigning against the base, as well as people involved in the Grand March for Life and Peace, an event organized to call for a halt to the construction. On Aug. 3, he went to see activists opposing the base in their battle against police at the construction site in Gangjeong – a visit that left him looking very troubled.
“They’re calling the people who oppose the base ‘pro-North Korea,’ but that’s a very simplistic expression and their methods are easy to attack,” Stone said. “But the residents and activists are very sincere about their home, their rights, and this beautiful island of Jeju.”
He also spoke on environmental concerns, noting the base was “destroying beautiful soft coral reefs and contaminating the water.”
“I’ve heard that Jeju water was some of the cleanest and best in the world,” he said. “What happens when it ends up getting polluted?”
“The Gangjeong residents and activists aren’t alone in their battle against the base. This is going beyond South Korea and turning into a worldwide issue,” he continued. “I don’t know how this battle is going to go, but the residents’ fight will not be forgotten.”
Following his trip to Jeju, Stone plans to head to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where atomic bombs were dropped during the Second World War. There, he plans to attend a conference opposing atomic and hydrogen bombs before traveling on to Okinawa, site of a large US military base.
From August 7-11, I’ll be attending the annual convention of the Veterans For Peace with my friend and fellow member Dan Ellis. I joined the VFP last year as an associate member since I am not a veteran, but because one of my sons is in the active military.
I am happy to report that my chapter of the VFP, Tom Sturtevant #001, was the first chapter in the entire country. After viewing the trailer of The Ghosts of Jeju, the members voted to send me to Madison where the film will be screened on Friday, August 9th.
There’s more good news to report. Bruce Gagnon, also a member of our Tom Sturtevant chapter, has been on a speaking tour that has taken him from Sweden near the North Pole to Hawaii, The Philippines, and all the way down to Australia. Along the way, Bruce has screened the film and given away many copies of the film.
This is what Bruce had to say after the screening in Sweden at the annual meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space:
“It was a smashing hit….people were crying and they were clapping at the end…..I handed out the DVD’s strategically to key leaders in various Swedish cities, and from Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Mexico…..people passed the hat to send money to the village but I insisted they keep the money towards sending a representative from Sweden to the village ASAP……they loved the music, the story, and the resistance…..many people sent congrats to you….it’s was a European opening night showing……5 stars. Add Russia to list of places I sent DVD home with….a man who works directly for Putin.”
People from around the world and the U.S. have been ordering the film. Meanwhile I have entered it into 13 film festivals, including Sundance, Boston, New Hampshire, San Diego Asian, Portland and Camden, Maine. I’ve also entered the film in the two big festivals in S. Korea, the Seoul and Busan International Film Festivals. Paying the application fee doesn’t guarantee the film will be accepted, so I’m waiting with fingers crossed hoping that one or two will screen the film.
Here in Maine, the film will be screened on Sunday, August 18th at the Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. It is sponsored by Addams-Melman House, The Global Network, EPF-ME, PeaceWorks, the Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom, Peace Action ME, and the Campaign to Bring Our War Dollars Home.
Other screenings are being organized in the Boston area, Washington, D.C., Portland, OR, and Charlottesville, VA.
The indomitable spirit of the people of Gangjeong continues to inspire as they prepare for the 2013 Grand March for Life and Peace around Jeju Island. My film, The Ghosts of Jeju, declares, “the least we can do is to amplify their voices,” for with citizenship in America and the world, comes responsibility.
The people of Gangjeong are not alone in this struggle opposing the U.S. military expansion. All of the islands of the Pacific from Hawaii to Okinawa, to Guam, The Philippines and all the way down to Australia are rising up against American imperialism as the U.S. uses fear and power to coerce their leaders to either build or open up their ports and bases to the American military.
The myth of “national security,” is being foisted on the nations of the Pacific and Southeast Asia to instill fear that China and Russia have evil intentions to dominate the region. The U.S. military has made it perfectly clear their intentions are to encircle China and Russia, to impeded their growth by controlling access to the world’s resources, and to dominate the earth through a so-called Pax Americana. In other words, full-spectrum dominance through the use of unparalleled force on the earth, the seas, in the air and in space.
One must ask: is this really making the earth safer? Joint military exercises in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, encircling Russia and China with anti-ballistic missiles, the use of satellites to control the “battlefield” and for spying, remote controlled drones for indiscriminate killing, pivoting 60% of America’s naval might to Pacific and Southeast Asia can only be seen as provocative, threatening, and the raising of tensions in the region.
I recently did a search on the internet to find out how many times the U.S. had used military interventions in foreign lands. As an American with an undergraduate degree in U.S. History, I was shocked. Since 1798, barely 20 years after the founding of the country, the U.S. has intervened 188 times all over the globe, and that does not include World Wars I and II. The U.S. has even invaded China and Russia. And, in the process the U.S. has murdered millions and millions of innocent people to gain access and control over their resources.
America was not threatened by any of those sovereign nations nor by their indigenous peoples, nor was it America’s intention to spread freedom and democracy around the world. America sent troops to secure American “national interests,” which is manipulated language meaning the interests of the capitalist who needed fruit, rubber, rare earth minerals, and gas and oil to make money.
Since the very beginning of the U.S., white men imposed their beliefs upon a new nation under the myths of freedom and democracy, with liberty and justice for all…..meaning their own kind. The founders were mostly business men and slave owners. Women and slaves were considered property and could not vote. This group of elite, white capitalists believed not only in white supremacy and a patriarchal society, but believed that “their” America was exceptional and blessed by god. They got most of us believing it.
Imperialism is as old as civilization. Among the empires were the Greeks and Romans, the Ottoman Empire, and the empires of Europe and Asia. It was the Europeans who discovered the Americas in search of gold and riches which they found in abundance to replenish the depletion of resources in their own territories. Blessed by the Catholic Church and their kings and queens, these white explorers murdered millions and millions of indigenous peoples throughout North and South America believing that these peoples were savages, and something less than human beings. Entire cultures were destroyed
These white, European nations even fought wars among themselves in the Americas to stake their claims to the “New World” and its riches. Because they were more powerful and “civilized” they had no regard for those who had inhabited the Americas for thousands of years. Just like women and slaves, these indigenous peoples had no rights and no claim to the land.
Genocide and the extraction of resources has defined the history of the European empires. Their belief that the earth’s resources belong to the stronger, almost always blessed by the Church, are at the core of the American empire and the belief in American exceptionalism.
Resource extraction and control over those resources to fuel the American Way of Life have been the reasons for each an every military intervention of the United States. Like every previous empire, the American empire and the American Way of Life are in decline. The signs of this decline are everywhere. Governments are corrupt and beholding to the corporations. The labor movement, equal rights, and social uplift programs are being destroyed and weakened. Manufacturing jobs, except for military purposes, have gone where there is cheap labor and few restrictions on the corporations. Our roads, highways, and bridges, as well as the nation’s infrastructure are in disrepair. Education is no longer free, but being controlled by the wealthy and the military industrial complex. Income disparity has grown astronomically. The U.S. is #1 in the world in prison populations. Climate deniers and industry lobbyists have made the search for renewable energy and the creation of good, living-wage jobs impossible.
The elite, white capitalists have addicted the population to sports, entertainment, and the need for more stuff. People are more interested in sports, movie stars, celebrities, and reality TV shows than they are in what is happening to their freedoms. Inundated by advertising, deprived of an education that fosters critical thinking, duped into believing they need the latest technological gadget, and thirsting for more violence on TV, the movies, and ultimate cage fighting, Americans have been conveniently sedated and distracted.
Long gone is the independent, free media that was our protection against government overstepping its boundaries. Today, all of the mainstream media are owned by a handful of large, multinational corporations. What is fed to the American public as news, is highly refined propaganda that reinforces the lie of the great American Way of Life.
Fear and lies have always worked to control the masses, and the elite, white capitalists are using fear and lies to limit our freedoms and Constitutional rights. During the Cold War it was fear of Commies, Reds, and Russia. Today, in addition to fear of Russian and Chinese Communism, it is fear of terrorism. It works to perfection. Because of fear, most Americans have willingly given up their rights to privacy and their civil liberties.
Furthermore, the national security and surveillance state which includes the militarized local police, campus security guards, and even game wardens, have violently put down and suppressed peaceful protests. Anyone who opposes the state is a domestic terrorist and can be detained indefinitely without due process guaranteed by the Constitution.
So, why is it that so many Americans cannot penetrate the myths and the lies? It is precisely because the myths of freedom and democracy have been ingrained in the population, not by chance, but by design. American capitalism is the evil in the world today, subjugating the people of America and the world to their imperial designs. It is because the majority of Americans do not believe they have power to do anything about it. It is because the 1% has systematically divided the population over scores of issues. There are so many issues facing this country now, so many ominous warning signs that most cannot get their minds around them all. Most Americans are just trying to survive on a day to day basis and do not have the time or the energy to become informed, much less get involved in an active way.
U.S. History as it has been taught, patriotism, the flag, parades and patriotic march music, the stories of American heroes from George Washington, Davie Crocket, to Eisenhower and Patton have cemented the myth of American greatness while conveniently sanitizing the evil motives and the unrestrained and immoral violence and killing that have characterized U.S. intervention in the world.
This system, The American Way of Life is unsustainable because it recklessly depletes the planets resources. The system, based on consumption, itself is destroying the planet. In order to grow and maintain the economy and the American Way of Life, people need to consume more and more and that cannot happen without the suicidal dependance on oil, which in turn is threatening all life on the planet. Most Americans simply cannot conceive of any other way.
The people of Gangjeong know that LIFE and JUSTICE are at stake in the world. They know the struggle isn’t just against American militarism, war, and capitalism, but the struggle for survival. And that is why this year they march again for Life and Justice. For without Justice, there is no freedom, there is no peace, and life as we know it is not sustainable on this planet.
With citizenship on the planet comes the responsibility to join in this struggle for Life and Justice. The people of Gangjeong and Jeju Island cannot be left to fight this battle alone.
One evening at dinner, I sat next to Sr. Stella, a Korean missionary sister with a great sense of humor and a good command of the English language. After dinner and a delightful conversation, Sr. Stella asked, “so why not interview me. I want to tell Obama and the American people something.”
How could I refuse? Sitting next to the 20 ft barbed wire fence of the base, with the light fading fast and a fire burning to keep warm on that cool evening, Sr. Stella with all the confidence in the world and the passion of her convictions, let it rip.
She is one of hundreds of Catholic nuns from Korea and Jeju Island who visit Gangjeong Village frequently to stand in solidarity with the villagers and activists in their struggle against the construction of the naval base that is destroying the environment and their village, not to mention the denial of their human rights to live peacefully there as they have done for over one thousand years.
Even today, some 10 months removed from my stay in Gangjeong Village, I am overcome with tears and emotion as I watch the final feature-length version of The Ghosts of Jeju.
I am sure you will enjoy meeting Sr. Stella and be moved by her message.