I am a filmmaker living in Woolwich, Maine. In September 2012, I spent a month in Korea and three weeks in tiny Gangjeong Village. Little did I realize what I stumbled into.
Against the will of the residents of Gangjeong (pop. 1800) who are mostly fishermen and farmers, the Korean government and Navy began building a massive naval base to accommodate America's military pivot to Asia.
The villagers and their peace worker supporters have been protesting the construction of the base 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for five years. Not only are they fighting to save their village, but the entire ecosystem of the area which has been declared a positively no construction zone and a UNESCO Biosphere preserve. Also threatened are the Idio-Korean bottle nose dolphins, rare and endangered crabs and frogs, and the fresh-water shrimp that exist only in this village.
Compared to the relatively short-lived Occupy demonstrations in the States, I wondered what had sustained these brave, peaceful people for five years when they have been subjected to the brutal repression of hundreds of police and security guards.
What I didn't learn in my history classes was the role the U.S. Army played in the massacre of as many as 80,000 peasants on Jeju from 1948-1951. Because these fiercely independent people rebelled against the American occupation and the imposition of Sigman Rhee, a brutal dictator, they were labeled Communists.
Recently revealed secret and classified documents, film and photos prove that the Americans equippped the Korean army and police, trained them, provided intelligence, and planned and directed the Scorched Earth assault on these innocent men, women and children.
Only after visiting the Peace Museum on Jeju commemorating the massacre which began on April 3, 1948, did I understand the meaning of the protest and the perseverance and resolve of the people of Gangjeong and their supporters, many of whom survived the massacre and the others are immediate descendants of that horrific period.
Then, as now, the people of Jeju are fighting for self-determination, basic human rights, an open and transparent democratic process, and the protection of this rare and beautiful environment.
My film places the 5-year old struggle in the context of America's global military imperial domination of the planet through unrestrained and overwhelming force. Once again, the people of Jeju find themselves in the cross hairs of war between more powerful empires.
What We NeedProducing a feature-length documentary is an expensive undertaking. While Peace and Justice organizations paid for the trip to Jeju, I received no compensation for taking thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of film. Since returning to the States, I have spent an average of 60 hours a week labeling and cataloguing photos and film clips, reading and researching, and applying for grants.
I am at the point now where I need to hire an assistant editor, graphic artist, special effects editor, and someone to mix the audio and secure royalties to music.
Interviewing four experts will require travel, hotel accommodations, meals, and an assistant to assist with lighting, sound recording, and a multiple camera shoot.
This shoe-string budget will still cost about $20,000. I am hoping to raise at least $10,000 through this Indiegogo campaign. The rest will come from grants and viewings of the 39 minute overview of the story.
The ImpactFor your contributions, however large or small, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you helped advance the cause of world peace and justice, and you will be joining with other peace-loving people around the world in opposing the escallation of another cold war and arms race that now extends into space.
Through your contributions, which are tax deductible, you will help tell the hidden and untold story of America's actions and influence in Korea since the end of World War II right up to the present.
Other Ways You Can Help
- What the peaceful people of Jeju need are reinforcements, peace workers from around the world to spend a month in Gangjeong Village. Your presence will provide the support and encouragement the people need to continue their struggle. Your airfare may also be covered by one or more peace and justice organizations.
- You can donate at www.savejejunow.org Every dollar goes towards food, clothing, and basic supplies the activists need to continue. Many have left families, jobs, and school to take part in this struggle. Contributions from around the world sustain them.
- You can also write, email, or call the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Secretary of State, the Provincial governor of Jeju, and the Korean National Assembly to express your opposition to the construction of the naval base on Jeju.