It became clear that the construction and operation of the base: 1) threatened the environment and contaminated the Island’s entire ecology; 2) provided a foothold for the United States to oppose China and to confront the government in the northern half of Korea; 3) uprooted local social and economic relations by placing the base at the center of work and commercial relations, and 4) located girls and women, boys and men within the violent realm of male-dominated, racist, sexist and imperialistic militaries. In addition, the Navy base was designed to house guided missiles equipped with U.S.-made technology, a very dangerous situation for residents.
As a result, protesters objected to the Navy base, which included plans to berth 20 military ships and cruise ships with tourists. Even though residents expressed their grave concerns, the government refused to hold a democratic discussion. Rather than establishing an open decision-making process about whether the base should be built, the state shoved the construction project forward. The government held a sham vote on the project, where over 90 percent of the eligible voters had no chance to even participate, much less to vote “no.”
Gangjeong’s peace activists began carrying out daily protests in 2007. These protests continue to this day. So far, activists have protested for over 4,500 consequent days, voicing their democratic and peaceful opposition to the Navy base and related developments. In the first five years alone, protests stopped the construction of the military base at least seven times. Jeju’s peace work continues unabated, partly because peace activists from around the world have stood with Gangjeong Village.
Simultaneously, during this memorial time in March 2019, Jeju environmentalists led protests against the building of a second airport. The construction of this airport would bring the cutting of age-old forests and the contamination of Chunmi-cheon stream, which has provided drinking water to residents of eastern Jeju Island.