The start of construction on the naval base near Gangjeong village, Seogwipo City, has commenced after members of civil groups who blocked materials from being brought on site and were taken into police custody.
Civil action committees composed of Catholic, Christian and citizen groups held a press conference at the entrance of the construction site on Dec. 29. During the 30-minute event, cement trucks started to make their way to the construction area.
Seogwipo police asked the crowd several times to disperse, saying that the press conference was not registered through proper channels and could be legally considered “interference with official business.” Shortly after this, at around 10:18 a.m., members of the civil groups were forcefully removed from the area and detained. The police arrested Senator Hyun Ae Ja, Senator Lee Kyoung Soo and other civil group members demonstrating at the entrance to the site.
By 10:50 a.m. trucks had full access to the construction site. Civil organizations said that they strongly oppose the forceful construction of naval base by the government and the navy.
“The Woo Geun Min administration should endeavor to solve the problems of the status quo no matter what it takes, with no lame excuses...”
Woo Geun Min, the governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, visited Seogwipo police station and met Chief Kang Dae Il, asking for “the matter to be solved amicably and in a rational manner.”
Before Woo arrived, Senator Hyun Woo Bum, chair of a special committee regarding the conflict on naval base construction, visited Gangjeong village and met with citizens. He then proceeded to Seogwipo police station and asked that the demonstrators be released with a simple warning.
Members of the Jeju Peace Island Council have lodged a formal complaint with the Jeju Provincial Police Agency regarding the arrests made at the naval base construction site.
(By Jo Moon Wook, Jeju Ilbo reporter. Translation by Erin Ah-nam Kim)
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