Asia West Pacific

Gureombi Rock and People of Peace and Resistance

By Jungjoo Park Gang 

Group photo at the end of the event on March 7.

Gureombi Rock is another name for things to be destroyed.

Gureombi Rock was a place where people prayed, played, rested and got food for hundreds of years in Jeju Island, Korea. It was blasted and destroyed to build a naval base as the navy and government ignored the voices of residents and democratic procedures.  Residents and activists have demanded the navy to close the base and restore the Gureombi Rock for 13 years. On March 7 we gathered together at the Jeju naval base to remember the Gureombi Rock and encourage each other to persistently stand up against violence and for peace and justice.

People of resistance sing and dance as a way of speaking up for peace and justice.

Participants walk along the fences of the base as they remember Gureombi Rock on March 7.

As Jeju Island has suffered from over-development and more militarization, we have continued losing other Gureombi Rocks in different places across Jeju Island. They are small mountains, forests and small rivers that have lived there for thousands of years. We are saddened to lose them and see them being destroyed. Although we feel our voices are too small to be heard widely, we will not stop and give up. 

We are people of peace, justice and resistance. 

We are a community of peace and justice activists. Before Gureombi Rock was damaged, hundreds of citizens from Jeju island and the mainland came to Gangjeong village to stop it. Although they didn’t stop the construction, their will and spirits for peace and justice still remained and it led some of them to sustain the anti-base movement. I, myself, am one of them and have lived in Gangjeong Village where Gureombi Rock is buried in concrete. 

Every day at 7 a.m., we do 100 bows at the gate of the naval base and at 11:00 a.m. we celebrate a Catholic mass in the street. After that we do human chain events by sharing songs and dances with visitors from all over the country. Speaking up against state violence and wars on the ground is a manifestation of nonviolence and the transforming power of life. My dear friends never stop but continue in their persistence. I admire them and am proud that I am a part of this community.

Catholic priest, Fr. Moon gives a speech at the gate of the base.