Work against war profiteering has emerged in South Korea in recent years. An important step in its development was the 2010 Peace and Disarmament Fair, which took place between the 2nd and 3rd of October, organised by the Peace and Disarmament Fair Preparatory Committee. The disarmament fair was timed to coincide with the South Korean Armed Forces Day – this year was the 60th anniversary of the Korean War – this is also the date of the biannual “Seoul International Aerospace & Defence Exhibition” (which will take place next in 2011). The Seoul arms fair unites what used to be separate fairs by the three branches of the military – army, navy and air force. The organisers of the fair are the Korea Defence Industry Association(KDIA), the Korea Aerospace Industries Association (KAIA) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and it is strongly supported by the South Korean Ministry of Defence. The South Korean government is increasing military and defence spending to build a strong military industry as one of the nation's core industries. As part of these efforts it has been holding events such as the Defence Trade Exposition, air shows and military parades on the Armed Forces Day.
The Peace and Disarmament Fair aimed at highlighting that South Korea is a big arms producer, and one of the major arms importers – 6th in the world according to SIPRI. This role of South Korea in the arms trade is not well known by its citizens, which shows the urgent need for such activities as the disarmament fair.
The Disarmament Fair was a series events. There were places to share civil society concerns about armed conflict and the proliferation of armaments. At the same time, it presented an alternative plan for citizens creating peaceful coexistence. Although it rained throughout the event, nearly 500 people visited the fair.
This Fair ended but this was just the beginning. The preparatory committee is planning to have an exhibition in the South Korean National Assembly building and will be holding lobbying meetings with members of the National Assembly during its annual inspection by the South Korean Administration. A major plan is to have local exhibitions, which will consist of more than 60 panels showing the impact of the South Korean arms trade, to travel through the country and to be organised together with local groups. This will also be a way to get more organisations to join the committee.
The Peace and Disarmament Fair Preparatory Committee so far consists of 14 organisations: World Without War, the Weapon Zero Team, Peace Ground, the Peace Network, Amnesty International Korea, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the Peace Museum, the Asia Regional Initiative, Nanum Munwha, the Pyongtaek Peace Centre, Jeju Solidarity for Participation and Environment, the Hansin University Peace and Public Centre, the Korean Sharing Movement and the Buddhist practice group. We expect more organisations to join in the work against the arms trade.