There a numerous reasons why the protest and social movement in Jeju is growing. People from all walks of life, anti nuclear/peace activists, clergy of a variety of faiths ranging from quakers to buddhists and shamans, ecologists, international observers, villagers and others have protested against the construction of the base that officially is both a civil and army base. The Korean Navy claims that the new ”eco-friendly” naval base will create jobs and increased security for the island. But it is difficult to imagine an eco-friendly 50-hectare naval base that will house 8,000 marines, up to 20 destroyers, several submarines and two 150,000-ton luxury cruise liners(and it is highly debatable if they can even fit, or rather turn around, in the present outlay of the base).
In 2002, where the US/korean naval base is being built on the coast of Gangjeong village on Jeju island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is proclaimed. This means that the waters off the coast were designated as a marine ecosystem protection zone by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Recognising the value of Gureombi coast, the Jeju Provincial Government designated it as an area of absolute protection in 1991, making any change to it effectively impossible. However, its protected status was lifted in Dec. 2009 by the Jeju Provincial Council.
Gureombi rock is very important for the locals, and many people worship the rock which they consider to be alive. It is considered to be an entity in itself and the blasting that the navy has done is described by some as a part of a family member being maimed or killed. Its water is also believed to have a high spiritual value and is used for the worship of ancestors.
The first blast on Gureombi rock happened on March 19th 2012.