I am not an expert on the Gangjeong naval base issue, and I’ve never been involved in the protest.
Frankly speaking, in the past I thought the naval base would bring some prosperity to us by attracting more visitors and encouraging the construction of new facilities in the town. However, although it may boost the regional economy, building a naval base is not the way.
I remember when Jeju was designated an “Island of World Peace” in 2005. Sometimes people can be shortsighted, but this time we have to look further into the future.
The financial benefits from the construction of the naval base that the local government stresses is a drop in a bucket compared to the costs of potential problems. For example, the naval base could make Jeju a target if armed conflict in Northeast Asia were to break out.
If the Jeju provincial government is being pressured by the central government (if this really is the case) then Governor Woo Keun Min should strive to show Seoul that Jeju really is a self-governing province. If it is not, the government should not turn a deaf ear to the will of the people. A naval base on Jeju is the genie that we may never be able to put back into its bottle.
Hyun Donghak is an English tour guide and translator from Seogwipo City.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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