Across the road from the army base entrance there is a small tent where the Christian ceremony is held every morning. There is also a smaller artfully decorated tent where activists can hide from the weather, rest, get a cup of something. Maybe a sweet potato, cooked on the top of the tin drum that doubles as an outdoor fire.
Or warm tangerines from the local orchard or a boiled egg and some warm soy milk as was the case for me this afternoon.
It has been five years, going on six. For the villagers and their supporters. The struggle. Lawsuits. Civil disobedience that landed people in jail. The mayor. Clergy. Local villagers. Supporters from the mainland. Harassment. Hard words. Violations. Bringing back memories of the war for some.
And also, peaceful resistance 24/7 outside the gate, aimed at stopping, or at least delaying the construction. More than a few have been beaten up. More than a few have faced trials, deportation(14 at the border already), probation.
The word on the street is that journalists and internationals have been warned that they face deportation if they support the opposition.
People come anyway of course. Noam Chomsky, Angela Zelter are among those who have raised their voices in support. But one gets tired.
And the deep sense of mourning I experience here I wasn’t prepared for. When I had been greeted by the gates by the local activists and handed some food I asked if the man next to me would teach me some korean. Of course. What words did he feel I should know? Well, the ones that are close to his heart. From what I understood, he tried to explain in broken English that the island is a part of him, it is his spiritual foundation and part of his core. There are severe ecological effects trailing in the wake of the construction and human rights have been violated but his choice of words brought me back to the fundament of self-determination, what lies beyond the legal definition – your right to freely define what you are and what is important to you. Therefor I was taught the following words today, my first in korean.
Gangjeong Dolphin — Sha do ri
Water — Dae Wang
Sea — Ba da
Sky — Ha nul
Earth — Ddang