Through the march and the human chain as well as every day in the struggle against the construction of the naval base, anyone can see the joy and the positivity of every activist and every supporter. The final day of the Grand Peace March: On the sunny Saturday afternoon, the east and west sides finally met as the participants proudly wearing their yellow shirts filled Jeju city. A heartwarming hug between the leaders of the east and west sides, and the trade of the main flags at the city’s main intersection had everyone smiling from ear to ear. Several hundred people occupied a lane in the city making noise, singing songs, and waving their yellow flags.
As the march culminated at the coast of the city, rain fell for the first time in a week. Just as the rain kicked off the march on that Monday morning, this rain signified the end of the 132 miles and gave the exhausted marchers a refreshing feeling of accomplishment. A beautiful sunset behind us and a rainbow next to the stage kicked off the event perfectly as we all relaxed and gave our bodies a moment to rest. After some live music, Oliver Stone appeared on stage to share his concern of the dangers of militarization and his promise to publicize his opposition of the naval base on Jeju Island. He joined the front line of the march earlier that day in Jeju City (pictures in gallery below).
Between performances, the beloved mayor of Gangjeong joined Father Moon on stage and both made powerful, heartwarming speeches about the incredible persistence in the struggle – and the full intent to continue the fight. They sang songs about the irreplaceable beauty of Gangjeong while the audience and dozens on stage embraced each other to sing along.
The event ended with a bang as the stage and floor filled as the four signature songs in the anti-base struggle began to play. The dances are known as the addictive dances as most find it hard not to start dancing along when any of the songs come on. Through hunger and thirst, the energetic crowd moved with laughter, and it did not seem that these very people had just marched across the entire island for six full days.
Buses took the activists back to the village and the next morning, 1200 children, parents, students, and community members from several different cities and nations gathered to spread the word around the village. With Pungmul (Korean traditional drums), songs, and chants against the naval base construction, the village was enlivened with unity. A store owner with a huge smile on her face stepped outside and waved her arms wide and proud to all the activists as we walked through the village.
A folk band from the concert on Saturday played music for us as we walked towards the port, where the view of the construction met the scores of anti-base protestors. As we spread across the city to hold hands for the human chain, you could see the yellow shirts and flags lining up across the coast and along the high walls of the construction areas. A few of the main activists carried anti-base flags and greeted everyone at the human chain; sweating, they shouted and smiled as they ran around the village with flags high in the air to keep the energy alive in the hot August sun. A band – holding a hot pink dolphin and playing guitar, accordion, and shaking maracas, came around the village as well, laughing as they played their songs of peace (they made the police smile, too! see picture below =))
Mini helicopters took aerial photos of the human chain after the addictive dances had everyone in a good mood. We enjoyed the music playing throughout the morning and afternoon, and met at Gangjeong stream to have lunch and swim in the fresh cold water. The joyful activism full of laughter, bright colors, music, and love is a sight to see. I have taken hundreds and hundreds of photos, but none will express the heartwarming feelings and the connections made along my journey with the Gangjeong activists.
Though my time with these amazing people in this incredible village has passed, I will always remember the moments that made me smile and the friendships that were made. And I will always be inspired by the resilience, endurance, compassion, and dedication that will live on in Gangjeong. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, comments, or to see more pictures/videos.
Love and Peace,