David Against Goliath: How a Small Village on Jeju Island in South Korea Became a Hub of the Peace Movement in East Asia

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:00
Oral Presentation
Jeong-Im HYUN, university of Turku, Finland
David against Goliath: How a small village on Jeju Island in South Korea became a hub of the peace movement in East Asia

Since 2007, some 700 residents of the small village of Gangjeong on Jeju Island in South Korea, have been struggling against construction of a naval base: the official initiator was Korean navy however, the real initiator was US Navy. No one, not the even village residents, thought the struggle would last so long: it seemed lost in advance. Their competitors were the Korean government, the US Navy and major construction companies: they have power, capital and major media. Despite being only David, the Gangjeong people have already won: not only they rose up to defy "Goliath", but also the resistance is still ongoing after the construction of naval base in 2016.

The main question of this research is how a small community without many resources succeeded in maintaining the movement for a long period of time and became one of the important hub of the peace movement in East Asia. I conducted in-depth interviews and participate observations on June 2015 and on August 2017 in Gangjeong. My analysis will focus on the dynamics of the roles of three different types of actors in the place (native residents, activists and catholic religious), as they are bringing resources: material, non-material, creating frame of meaning for the movement and mobilizing people: nationally, internationally. Catholic religious actions are quite particular here: by celebrating 'street-mass' every day with parishioners, visitors, and activists in front of constructing site, they are creating 'protesting sanctuary' not only for activists but also 'common people'.