I arrived home last night from my latest trip to South Korea. The trip was successful in building solidarity, learning about organizing in South Korea, helping to build awareness of the significance of Korean Peninsula issues, and preparing for future resistance to militarism.
If you don’t know, I was on a US Solidarity Peace Delegation with the following:
-Jill Stein (Green Party USA)
-Medea Benjamin (Codepink)
-Reece Chenault (US Labor Against the War)
-Juyeon Rhee (STIK, and she was denied entry into South Korea!)
-Myself Will Griffin (Veterans For Peace & STIK)
The delegation was organized by a US based coalition called STIK, Stop THAAD in Korea (StopTHAAD.org). We had 3 demands:
1. Remove the THAAD anti-missile system
2. End the annual war games (Joint US-ROK military exercises)
3. Have the US-ROK engage in diplomacy with North Korea
We had really good coverage of our trip. We had a huge press conference in which we were on KBS, a national broadcast station in South Korea along with many other Korean media organizations. We also had a really good report done by Stars & Stripes which you can read here: http://bit.ly/2vw51I5
Of course, Jill Stein brought many new people to Korean Issues in the US. We were on Jill Stein’s personal live stream on Facebook, Jill was on MSNBC immediately upon arriving back home, and Jill was on Democracy Now!.
1. Facebook live stream: http://bit.ly/2uqIrwl
2. Jill Stein MSNBC: https://www.facebook.com/drjillstein/videos/1728981703808679/
3. Jill Stein Democracy Now!: https://www.facebook.com/drjillstein/videos/1730588300314686/
Medea wrote an excellent article published in both Alternet and Common Dreams. But I prefer reading from Common Dreams because there is less advertisements on the page: http://bit.ly/2wrRVZM
As our trip ended, we also published a post-delegation statement with an attempt to convince the world the importance of issues on the peninsula and the need to engage in diplomacy. The Korean Peninsula issues involves everyone on the planet because nuclear war affects everyone. Also, if war breaks out on the peninsula it will draw in many economic and military powers like China, Russia, Japan, US, both Koreas and most likely NATO and US-Allied nations. I highly recommend reading our statement and sharing which has already been post on Codepink. Also, the statement has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English. You can read it here: http://www.codepink.org/as_tensions_explode_on_korean_peninsula?
After the trip ended and all of the delegates traveled home, I stayed in Korea for a few more days where I traveled to Jeju Island to join the annual Gangjeong Walk for Life and Peace. Its a 6 day march around the island that has been happening every year since 2008. I walked the whole 6 days last year but only walked for 2 days this year. The resistance in Jeju island to militarism is significant because they’ve been protesting militarism EVERY DAY for TEN YEARS. The only other place I know in the world that has been doing that is on Okinawa. These places give legitimacy to the struggle of removing US military bases around the world. It was a pleasure and honor to join these people. They have put their lives on the line to keep both Jeju and Okinawa island peaceful.
In the coming days I will try to make as many videos as possible. One video has already been published on ZoominKorea, an online source of Korean Peninsula news that is run by some of my friends. In the following video, Medea and I interviewed the grandmothers and mothers in Gimcheon which is the site of the THAAD anti-missile system. Half way through the video, we asked them to send messages to the CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson, who is a mother herself. Keep in mind, many of these grandmothers were previously right-wing conservative people who supported the previous South Korean president, Park Geun-Hye, who was a right-wing conservative. Park militarized South Korea more than most administrations and was ousted by the Candlelight Uprising. Park was caught up in a scandal of filtering millions of South Korea dollars (Won) to her friends. I will expand on these issues in future videos, but for now here is the interviews with the Gimcheon grandmothers: https://youtu.be/fGpk6T11dBg
The bad news of this delegation is that upon the very last day, July 28th, North Korea tested there 2nd ICBM within one month. In response, South Korean president Moon ordered the 4 additional launchers for the THAAD system. I personally believe Moon always had plans to order all the launchers, he was just waiting for an excuse to do so. How do I know this? Moon had a government position in South Korea during the early days of the Iraq War. The Pentagon requested South Korean troops in Iraq and against the will of the Korean people, Moon voted for the deployment of South Korean troops. I remember seeing some South Korean military troops and a hospital in Iraq when I was there in 2006-07. This act shows that Moon is more willing to obey US policy than his own people. Now, the deployment of THAAD really shows this subservience to US policy.
Let me clarify the THAAD issue because it can be a little confusing. THAAD was already deployed to South Korea and operational. It is a system made up of a radar and launchers (each launcher has 6 interceptor missiles). So before our delegation begun, there was already one radar and 2 launchers in South Korea up and running. The US wanted to send an additional 4 launchers, which in total would add up to one radar and 6 launchers (48 interceptor missiles). President Moon had ordered an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for only the 4 additional launchers. He tried to make it appear he was standing up against US policy. But now that he has ordered ALL THAAD launchers to South Korea it shows his subservience to US policy. This completely betrays the South Korean people as he was elected directly because of the Candlelight Uprising which was a year long protest against both the corrupt Park Geun-Hye administration and the hyper-militaristic policies. But since President Moon is part of the South Korean Democratic Party, its exactly the same as if Hillary Clinton were to be elected president of the US. Just another corporatist, militarist democratic serving the needs of the defense industry and ignoring the will of the people.
That’s all for now folks!
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