Korean Americans at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle, Aug. 11, made an impassioned plea for solidarity with the embattled farmers of Pyeongtaek, South Korea, who are being evicted to make way for a vast expansion of a U.S. Army base on their land.
Jamie Kim, a Korean American active in the U.S. Pyeongtaek Committee, told a crowded panel discussion devoted to peace on the Korean peninsula that she was moved by the “spirit of resistance” of the farmers, “their will to fight not only to preserve for themselves their land but also to resist a U.S. strategic plan to extend domination throughout Northeast Asia.”
Kim narrated a video of an attack on the farmers by 15,000 South Korean military and riot police May 4 in which 500 farmers were injured and 524 arrested as they sat down to peacefully block their evictions. She called on the crowd to organize vigils, rallies and other actions Sept. 23 when the Pyeongtaek farmers hope to bring 100,000 demonstrators into the streets worldwide to protest the base expansion.
A veteran in the crowd was so outraged by the brutality in the video that he exclaimed, “I’m a Korean war vet. I am offended by what they are doing in my name.”
Korean American John Kim, a leader of VFP and Korean War veteran, said the expansion of the U.S. base, Camp Humphreys, will destroy rice-growing communities and displace 500 farmers and thousands of residents.
“The U.S. wants to expand the mission of its forces deployed at Pyeongtaek to achieve U.S. hegemony in Northeast Asia,” he said. “It is increasing tension and instability which the Korean people do not want.”
The U.S. signed a “treaty of friendship” with Korea in 1882 but has instead imposed “a history of betrayal, war, oppression and occupation” on the Korean people, he continued. The Korean War ended in stalemate more than 50 years ago. “Korea has a long history as a united country, 5,000 years. We created the division of Korea and they are still suffering. A civil war in Korea was distorted by Truman as a war against ‘communist expansion.’ It was a horrible war with bombs on every village. Most of the country was leveled.”
As the crowd applauded he concluded, “Nobody knows who the U.S. will attack next, Korea or Iran. Let’s stop the guessing game and work to end the Korean War.”
Veterans for Peace hosted a delegation of Korean veterans for peace, including retired South Korean Army generals who fought during the Korean War. The two groups agreed to work jointly to defuse the war danger caused by the Bush-Cheney “regime change” strategy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
— Tim Wheeler