Save Jeju Island Campaign through the Movement Action Plan model

Jungmin Choi

We, the members of World without War, held a Movement Building Workshop in March of last year in collaboration with Andreas Speck from War Resisters’ International. The workshop used the Movement Action Plan (MAP) model to examine our campaigning, particularly in relation to government's abandonment of the previous administration's plan to address the issue of alternative service. Our campaign has been at a standstill since the inauguration of the current government.

MAP was developed by US activist Bill Moyer to explore the stages and roles in successful nonviolent social movements. He described the eight stages as: 1) A critical social problem exists; 2) Proven failure of official institutions; 3) Ripening conditions; 4) Take off; 5) Percieved failure; 6) Majority public opinion; 7) Success; 8) Continuation. In these stages, there are four different advocate roles: Citizen, Rebel, Reformer and Social Change Agent. Social movements are complex and do not always follow the exact route that MAP articulates, but I found this tool to be very useful for us when World without War members felt tired, and often said we did not know what else to do.

We have never used a MAP analysis to examine the Save Jeju Island Campaign, so this article is my personal view of how the Save Jeju Island campaign relates to MAP.

Where are we now with MAP?

The South Korean government has been planning the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island since 1993. They said that “Imports and exports of Korea pass through the sea south of Jeju Island, so we have to defend it effectively and secure the transportation route for resources.” In 2002, the Korean government announced the new naval base construction plan in Hwasoon village, Jeju Island, but postponed it due to fierce opposition from Hwasoon villagers. This plan was relaunched in 2005, but it was again opposed by the people of Hwasoon. That summer, Wimi village on Jeju Island was named as the new site of construction, replacing Hwasoon.

This time, the budget proposal - which was based upon a premise that construction would only commence if the residents agreed - was passed in the National Assembly. Hwasoon and Wimi local residents held a general assembly and made an official decision to oppose the naval base.

In spring 2007, the Gangjeong Village Association submitted an application to requesting the construction of the naval base in Gangjeong. This decision was primarily a result of manipulation by the Jeju governor, who took every measure to win local people over in favour of construction. It was not the majority opinion. In fact, the Gangjeong Village Association general assembly where 94% against the naval base plan. This represents stage 1 of the MAP: The Korean government preached the need for the naval base on Jeju Island for national security, but local people did not agree.

The second stage lasted from 2007 - when Gangjeong people started agitating against the naval base plan – to 2009, when civic groups launched a campaign to recall Jeju Island's governor, and held a referendum to this affect. In this campaign, the government and Navy tried to conceal the root of the issue: that plans to construct a national military facility were approved in early 2009, and that the Jeju Island provincial government made a civil-military dual port construction work contract with the Navy and the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs. Many Jeju Island civic groups took action themselves to prove that these institutions were not our friend, and in May 2009, they launched the campaign to recall the governor. In the end, the results of the recall vote fell short of expectations.

The third stage, 'ripening conditions', lasted until the end of 2011. At this time, the local movement entered a period of slight recession as a result of the unsuccessful campaign to recall the governor. Simultaneously, activists from the mainland moved to Jeju Island to join the campaign, and started to convince civic groups on the mainland that the campaign against the naval base had not ended. Their efforts set off nationwide demonstrations against the construction of the naval base, and the Nationwide Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval Base was launched in May 2011. The committee mobilized many people from all over the mainland to come to Gangjeong in 2011. There was growing recognition of the problems as these supporters met and talked with Gangjeong villagers personally, and saw the striking scenery of Gangjeong with their own eyes. The whole village was deluged with the colorful banners that brought by visitors during this period. Also, in December 2011, the National Assembly cut 96% of the Jeju naval base budget for 2012: the movement at this time was ripe and active.

2012 was the fourth stage of the MAP. The Korean government blasted the Gureombi Rock (both an important environmental resource and an ancient place of prayer) and started construction. A great number of people - Koreans and internationals - came to Gangjeong village and took various direct actions to halt construction. Others supported the campaign in significant and powerful ways. The campaign was at its peak.

The fifth stage started at the end of 2012, when the conservative party won the presidential election, and the National Assembly passed the naval base budget proposal for 2013. The activists of the Save Jeju Campaign are in fucked up situations with heavy fines totaling 300 million won (approximately 210,000 Euros) and confinements when their trials start. They felt frustration, despair, and exhaustion. Participation in movement events decreased as the response of governmental power toward the actions strengthened and media coverage died down.

The Save Jeju Campaign is still in stage 5. The beautiful landscape of the seashore of Gangjeong seems to change day by day as the construction proceeds, and this has led to a feeling of helplessness. However, we won’t stop our efforts to make Jeju Island a peaceful island. There is a possibility that other military installations - including an Air Force base, Missile base and Marine Corps base - are to be built on Jeju Island: the government's plans do not end with a naval base. This will likely be an issue during the 2014 local elections, and we plan to build a network with civic groups in Okinawa and Hawaii, who are facing similar problems in trying to demilitarized their Islands.

Roles of different groups

In each stage, activists have done a zillion things. The role of World without War in the campaign was mainly the 'Rebel', especially in its fourth stage. We carried out direct actions which helped promote the issue in the media and raise awareness across the nation. World without War joined the Nationwide Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval Base and performed the role of the 'Change Agent' of the MAP. We are doing our utmost to train and mobilize people. There are 3 main agents in the campaign: Nationwide Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval Base, Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Prevention of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island, and Gangjeong Village Association. They are the reformers and the 'Change Agent' of the MAP and aim to promote long-term strategies together.

The new president of Korea has always been very pro-naval base. She has ambitions to turn Jeju Island into a “second Hawaii”, and will push ahead with the plan. The new government would argue that the plan is now irreversible and opposition has been defeated. Our task is to reveal the power holder's tricks – civil-military dual port, planned new (military) airport, etc., and promote alternative solutions.

World without War plans to offer the MAP workshop to other civic groups this year. Taeho Lee, Secretary General at People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), and Huisun Kim, Director at Center of Peace and Disarmament of PSPD, helped me to write this article. They are core members of the Nationwide Committee to Stop the Jeju Naval Base.

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