Gangjeong village’s open letter to the 2013 WCC Assembly in Busan

 Gangjeong Village Association Ÿ Jeju Pan-­‐Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island Ÿ National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island.

28 October 2013

To: World Council of Churches Delegates of Member Churches Public Issues Committee

ReCalling for the Issue of a Public Statement for Peace against Asia-Pacific MaritimeMilitarization -­‐ Guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79)

We are writing to urge the delegates of Member Churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to seriously consider issuing a public statement on building peace in the Asia-­‐Pacific against maritime militarization. Today, we are witnessing a rise of militarism under the name of peace and prosperity in the Asia-­‐Pacific. Tension between the economic and military expansion of China and the corresponding the U.S. “Asian Pivot” strategy has sparked an escalation in the war-­‐profit industry and an arms race for global military dominance. This has left in its wake conflict and suffering, and the destruction of land, cultures, and traditions across the Asia-­‐Pacific. These false idols of security and economic expansion runs counter to the justice, peace, and life that are the core values of the World Council of Churches and Christians  everywhere.

A key example of the impact of this militarization can be seen in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. One of the oldest and most naturally beautiful villages of Jeju, the unique eco-­‐systems of Gangjeong are a showcase of God’s creative spirit, home to numerous endangered species and the world’s largest temperate soft coral forest. Since 2007, without the villagers’ consent, it has become the site of massive naval base construction. If built, the Jeju naval base will be a critical outpost of the ROK-­‐Japan-­‐U.S. maritime military alliance targeting China. As a result, Jeju, ironically known as “the Island of Peace”, will become a primary target, leading to devastating loss of life and destruction.

Dedicated to the care of creation and the spread of life, the struggle against the base in Gangjeong  is  an  open  and  truly  ecumenical/inter-­‐faith  resistance  for  justice.  Catholics, Protestants,  Quakers,  Anabaptists,  Buddhists,  and  Shamanists  have  come  together  to  create   a  vital  community,  marked  by  vibrant  practice  of  faith  and  respect  for  different  traditions without  dilution  or  conflict.  Despite  police  crackdowns  on  religious  expression  and  assembly, Catholic  priests  hold  daily  mass  in  front  of  the  construction  site,  Protestants  have  prayer services,  and  Shamans  perform  traditional  rituals.  The  ingredients  that  hold  it  all  together  are a steadfast desire for God’s justice, a  dream  of life  together, and  a  commitment to nonviolent peacemaking.  We  hope  that  the  struggle  against  the  Jeju  naval  base  construction,  which  is  a microcosm of the maritime militarization of the Asia-­‐Pacific, can be a call to Christians and all people of God to return to the path of peace.

It is now urgent for churches to respond to the escalating maritime militarization and violence in the Asia-­‐Pacific region that runs counter to the call of the people of God to peacemaking. As mentioned in an “Ecumenical Call for Just Peace,” churches should become builders of a culture of peace while recognizing the promise of peace is a core value of all religions. The farmers of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island are at the forefront of such a faithful realization of the Kingdom of God. Let’s not turn their plowshares into swords.

Therefore, we call upon the World Council of Churches to:

  • Issue a public statement at the 10th  Assembly of World Council of Churches, formally expressing its grave concern regarding maritime militarization in the Asia-­‐Pacific which is a threat to regional and global just peace;
  • Urge the government of the Republic of Korea to stop the Jeju naval base construction and focus on peaceful approaches to cooperation;
  • Call upon the government of the Republic of Korea to protect and promote all human rights including the right to peace and environment of the people of Gangjeong Village;
  • Appeal to the churches and national ecumenical councils in the region to take serious measures to stop the arms race and make the Pacific the Sea of Peace.

Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Dong-­‐Kyun Kang                                                                 Ms. Young-­‐hee Jeong

Village Mayor                                                                                Chairwoman

Gangjeong Village Association                                                  Village Women’s Committee


Mr. Gi-­‐Ryong Hong                                                                         Ms. Ri-­‐ri Hong

Co-­‐convenor                                                                                   Co-­‐convenor

Jeju Pan-­‐Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island



Mr. Taeho Lee                                                                               Ms. Hye-­‐ran Oh

Co-­‐convenor                                                                                   Co-­‐convenor

National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island


* Contact Details:

Ms. Gayoon Baek, National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island,, +82 (0)10-­‐9436-­‐0316


Mr. Paco Michelson, Gangjeong International Team,, +82 (0)10-­‐9229-­‐4054

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