By KOOHAN PAIK, Coordinator of the IFG Asia-Pacific Program
Acclaimed U.S. film director, Oliver Stone, visited Korea and Japan in August 2013 to lend support to citizens opposed to base-building in their nations, as well as the use of nuclear weapons. He visited Jeju Island, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo and Okinawa.
While on Jeju Island, where the South Korean and U.S. governments are building a huge, state-of-the-art navy base that will house aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines, Stone made the most of his brief, two-day visit. He met former film critic Yang Yoon-mo at Jeju prison. Yang, a Jeju native, is serving time for “obstruction of government business,” after having put his body in the path of construction trucks entering the base construction site.
Stone also marched alongside Gangjeong village mayor Kang Dong-kyun and hundreds of other villagers in the Grand March for Life and Peace, an annual week-long protest trek around the circumference of the island. Mayor Kang had, several weeks earlier, spoken at Moana Nui 2013, an IFG Asia-Pacific event which took place in Berkeley, California in June.
On the last day of the Grand March, Stone spoke at a large rally about the dangers of militarizing Jeju Island.
Though Stone’s activities violate the South Korean law that prohibits foreigners from engaging in political activity, in this case, the government turned a blind eye. National news media outlets in both Korean and English reported on the visit, giving the base controversy exposure that would have been ignored had it not been for Stone’s presence.
Click below for reports from the Korean English-language media, as well as a Korean-language video news segment on Oliver Stone’s visit to Jeju island.