The activist in Gangjeong are a mixed bunch. They come in colorful hand sewn clothes.
They come in their official church garbs from the mainland, the island and abroad and move the church onto the street next to the base.
They protest alone. Resilient. Like this quaker man who kneels up and down the busy road outside of the base. Twice a day. Everyday. Dressed in the traditional white mourning clothes.
He is mourning the death of four things:
- The death of the sovereignty of Korea
- The death of Human Rights
- The death of democracy
- The killing of the Gureombi rock
The Gureombi rock is a lava formation that can only be created under certain circumstances in rocky wetlands. It is found outside the village of Gangjeong and stretch 1,2 km further. It is a unique habitat in which fresh water ponds are formed often used by the traditional women divers to wash their catch. It is also considered sacred by many villagers.
Sometimes they let the message speak.
Sometimes showing your face is important.
And then we have the artists.
And all the people in the wings, the fabric of a large support network. Cooking, providing free food, offering car rides et cetera.
These were the activists.
But Gangjeong is also a village torn apart.
There are people waiting to make profit from the building of the army base. People who are disturbed by the protest, annoyed at the attention it is given. Today even the shopping has become political. You choose a shop after its pro or anti base sentiment. Families don’t speak to each other. This is recognized as a big problem in the peace community and yesterday in the community get together the consequences of the protest and possible solutions were aired. There was even an apology to the activists coming from outside, we should be united as a village but we are not.
I left with the feeling that there is often a high price to pay for following your moral convictions. Not just losing respect for authorities that misbehave, prison sentences or a sense that your state is not listening to you.
But loss of friendship, family fall outs, loosing jobs and opportunities and maybe most of all your innocence.