South Korea Report at University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras) – 8th Meeting of International Women's Network Against Militarism

Report from South Korea
2012. Feb.
1. Introduction
0 President Lee Myung Bak’s policies :
– ‘business friendly'(pro-‘jaebul’, big business firms)
-pro-USA ‘to the core'(by Wikileaks’ disclosure about US-Korean foreign
relations document) : in economy, FTA between South Korea and USA passed
last year with strong resistance from the people, in military, Lee Myung Bak
stress the traditional military alliance with USA(photo, smiling in George Bush’s
Cart in 2008)
-anti-North Korea, containment policy against North Korea(No entry, no
humanitarian support)
-all kinds of freedom(speech, press, assembly) suppressed
2. NGOs and Citizen’s Activities :
0 Alliance for the Human Rights of Gijichon(US military bases in
South Korea) Women
– In 2008, NGO’s workers for Gijichon women and scholars gathered together,
‘Hansori'(means ‘United Voice’ : the Eradication of Prostitution, Duraebang(My
Sister’s Place), Sunlit Sisters’ Center, National Campaign for the Eradication of
Crimes by US troops in Korea, Lawyers for a Democratic Society) held an int’l
forum on “Gijichon, Military and Women”
– In 2009, tentative organization named ‘Women’s Alliance to support the
Gijichon Women’ and began meeting regulary to study the issues of Gijichon, human
rights issues of the prostitute women are in poverty were being overlooked
– In 2011, met monthly to study the history of prostitution in Korea, review of
the laws related to Gijichon, and the movement of sexual slaves of the Japanese
military, held two symposiums and a workshop(Margo Okazawa-Rey joined and
Japanese NGOs co-sponsored “Problems of the US troops in East Asia and the
Human Rights of the Women’)
– Purpose of the Alliance is to end the reproduction of the system of violence
against women caused by the US military troops, militarism, development
dictatorship, war and imperialism
– We pursue a society in which all the people related to Gijichon of different
race, sex and class will be reconciled and healed
– Presently eight organizations are taking part in the alliance, and in 2012
planning to register as a non-profit organization and hold an inauguration ceremony
– Ask SAFE to join us, as a partner
0 Anti-Naval Base Construction in Jeju Island
– Sad history, in 1948 massacre and fear of mainland policy
– By the late Roh Moo Hyun, Jeju was named ‘Island of World Peace’
– Located strategically in the Korea Strait, the island’s potential to become a
military target in the event of an armed conflict in this tense region would increase
exponentially with the addition of a naval base
– illegal procedure : 5 years ago, 94 percent of Gangjeong residents have voted
against the base and used every possible democratic means to block its
– 3 UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites and 9 UNESCO Geo-Park, designated
a Global Biosphere Reserve.
– Construction is accelerating daily with the dredging of the island’s seabed and
its coral communities currently underwary
– This naval base will serve as a port of call for the US military’s sea-based
component of its ballistic missile defense system
– Korean ‘jaebul,’ Samsung, Daerim, Hyundae(president Lee Myung Bak was a
manager of this company) involved this construction, especially Hyundae builds the
ship bodies of South Korean Aegis destroyer, with the Jeju naval base construction,
not only domestic Aegis destroyers but also Lockheed Martin-made US Aegis
– Don’t cry, Gurumbi-rock / Be strong, Gangjeong
-facebook: No Naval Base on Jeju
0 Demand for SOFA Revision – US Military personnel sexual crimes
against teenage girls and US bases contamination
– 2 girls was raped by US soldiers in Seoul and Dongduchun on September 17th
and September 24th, 2011
– Police could not arrest the criminals because of SOFA, which contains a
clause stating that South Korean police cannot detain US servicemen for
questioning, unless the criminal was caught in the very act. In other words, this
clause prevented swift investigation
– US military and civilian personnel have committed 4,618 crimes against South
Korean civilians in the last decade since SOFA was revised in 2001. Furthermore,
serious crimes such as robbery, assault and sexual offences are on the rise
– US Army claiming that the crime is the suspect’s personal matter and placing
utmost priority on the military personnel’s safety
– The unfair SOFA makes it difficult for South Korean police to investigate
suspects under custody and for the South Korean prosecution to indict
– NGOs’ demands and National Assembly Proposal :
1. the President Barrack Obama immediately apologize for the vicious rapes of
teenages girls by US soldiers, and that the US Army changes its policy toward US
military and civilian personnel who commits crimes against South Koreans to make
the policy actually effective for the purpose of preventing recurrent crimes
2. SOFA to be revised so that US military personnel who commit crimes
against civilians can be processed and tried under jurisdiction of the region in
which the suspect is stationed : the process of compensating victims is stipulated :
to guarantee that South Korean police can question US military personnel under
custody and South Korean prosecution can indite them under custody, even for
those suspects not caught in the act
3. The SOFA should contain a provision of protecting the human rights of
women and children. The SOFA also needs to stipulate the prevention of all forms
of violence against women and children by US troops in the region in which they
are stationed : harsher punishment(harsher than existing in the penal codes of both
countries) for those who commit violence against women and children : and
compensation for victims better than currently practiced in both countries
4. Solidarity with both domestic and international “conscience” forces to
change the unfair structure of the South Korea-US relationship
– US bases contamination(Camp Caroll) : May 2011, Steve Haus’ disclosure
about reclamation of Agent Orange in 1960’s(SOFA article 4-no responsibility of
0 Comfort Women 1000th demonstration
– 2011 December 14, in front of the Japanese Embassy to Korea
– From 1992 January 8th, the date of Japanese prime minister Miyajawa’s visiting
South Korea, every Wednesday demonstrations held for 20 years
– ‘Peace statue of Girl’
– solidarity demonstration abroad 8 countries(Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Scotland,
Italy, Germany, Canada, USA), 42 cities and International Amnesty
– solidarity message from DPRK, saying “We will have good solidarity with South
Korean Comfort Women and peaceful NGOs for solving the problem, and Japan has
to pay the blood price”
– Constitutional Court judgement – It’s a unconstitutional for South Korean
administration(Department of Foreign Relations) not to do appropriate action for
comfort women
– demand : 1. Japanese government’s recognition of war crimes
2. effort for fact findings
3. official apology
4. legal compensation
5. punishment of war criminals
6. recording in school textbooks
7. building of historical material site