Reverend Borah Lim of the Hyangrin Presbyterian Church heard the first time about the plans to build a naval base in Jeju in 2006. She had visited Okinawa in Japan, and knew the same fate awaited the village of Gangjeong.
The U.S. military presence on Okinawa has caused considerable controversy.
Highly carcinogenic materials are regularly released during military operations, affecting the land, water, air, and ocean, as well as people’s health. Okinawan residents suffer deafening noise from low-flying military aircrafts daily.
The friction between locals and military personnel has been exacerbated in recent years through misconduct of U.S. troops. In 1995, for example, a 12 year old girl was raped by three US military personnel.
Reverend Borah Lim lives in Seoul and came for the first time to Gangjeong in May 2011. Since then she comes twice a month to support the peacekeepers outside the construction gate.
She has been arrested three times and has three trials running against her.
- On April 3rd 2012 she and 4 other pastors broke the fence to stop the construction
- On April 14th 2012 she broke the fence again and jumped into a police line
- In June 2012 security guards disturbed a prayer meeting. She than sat in front of a construction truck.
She awaits judgement in one of her trials next month, in which she risks three month prison.
Nonetheless she returns to Gangjeong at least twice a month to obstruct the construction and support the peaceworkers.
She says the situation is getting worse and worse. While she is back in Seoul, she organises prayer meetings, collects money for the movement and spreads the word.
Reverend Borah Lim is not the only one who has been arrested.
586 people have been arrested so far. Of these 493 were charged.
Currently there are 5 people in prison related to Jeju naval base charges:
- Kim Bok-Chol
- Jeong Yeon-gi – a protestant pastor
- Park Seok-jin
- Park Seong-Ho
- Lee Yong-Chan – a catholic priest
But the struggle continues.
All images ©2012 Carole Reckinger. Do not reproduce without written permission