A recent letter in the Chronicle asserted that Korean people eat cats and dogs after torturing them. A check with my Korean friends found that Koreans don’t eat cats. Some older Koreans do eat dogs, which are raised to be eaten just like cows and chickens, but most young Koreans find this as unpleasant as most Americans.
I recently returned from Jeju Island, South Korea. I went with a group of friends to stand in solidarity with villagers of Gangjeong Village who are opposing the building of a naval base. The base is supposedly a Korean Navy base but a look at the plans clearly shows that wharfs and docks are fitted to the size of US naval vessels. The longest submarine in the Korean Navy is 53 meters but the sub pen being built is in the 200 meter range of the US Trident submarine. At fifty hectares, this base will be one of the largest in the Pacific Basin. The base will house up to twenty-four warships, including two Aegis destroyers and six nuclear submarines. The 7,000 troops along with dependents will overwhelm the village of 2,000. There are currently no bars or prostitutes in Gangjeong village but the villagers know that this will change when the base is completed in December 2015.
The villager see US bases being built or used in South Korea, Guam, Diego Garcia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Okinawa along with the central command of the US Pacific Fleet in Hawaii as part of President Obama’s military shift to the Pacific. This military buildup will form a semi-circle of naval and other military bases surrounding China. Villagers are told the naval base is for Korean national security but they see this base as being more likely to lead to war with China than in making them more secure.
They have heard that President Obama is planning to nominate Ashton Carter as the new Secretary of Defense. This is a man who encouraged a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea in 2006.
Jeju Island is a United Nations World Heritage site but the world’s largest soft coral reef is being destroyed by the base. Ironically the South Korean government in 2005 named Jeju Island as an Island of Peace. The waters around the island are supposed to be protected by international law as they are within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The people of Jeju Island have a long memory and have no reason to trust the American Empire. Between 1948 and 1952 the American occupation of South Korea was responsible for the deaths of 100,000 people who wanted to create their own government. There is a museum memorializing the April 3, 1948 genocide that took place on Jeju in which 40,000 people were killed for challenging the occupying American forces. The Chinese military left North Korea in 1958 but the US still has 23,000 troops occupying South Korea. Many Koreans look forward to the collapse of the American Empire and the Yankees going home.