top of page
  • Writer's pictureLondon Catholic Worker

Solidarity with the people of Je Ju

On May 9th four London Catholic Workers were joined by 10 Swedish students on a day visit to Giuseppe Conlon House as we travelled into the South Korean Embassy. We went to the embassy to express solidarity with the people of Je Ju non-violently resisting the destruction of their traditional lands & the construction of a new U.S. warfighting naval base. A video of the protest can be seen here.

We arrived at the embassy to join long time resister/ ploughshares activist Angie Zelter who was recently arrested on Je Ju. 45 other folks were also gathered in solidarity. They included folks.from the Korean community, Pax Chrisit, CND, Trident Ploughshares, the Columban JPIC, Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, Veterans for Peace UK. Three musicians kept us entertained with political songs and several people read out the letters they had written to hand in to the Embassy.

Angie Zelter and two other ativists went into the Embassy at 3 p.m. for around forty minutes to meet with Mr. IM, Byungho, the Consul/1st Secretary. They told him in detail of our three major concerns – militarisation; human rights abuses and lack of democracy; and environmental destruction. They also told him about the growing international concerns and that there were demonstrations in at least eight other cities in five different countries this week.

The Ambassador stated several times that he did not know anything about the situation in Jeju and does not have an opinion about it. He did not know about the environmental protection issue or the human rights issue (and did not seem to care about it either!) but he was sure that Chinese and Japanese naval power is increasing and Korea needs more naval bases especially in the south of the country. He said his Government's intention is to protect its people using military tactics which was their right and that the Ambassador has no right or power to ask the Government to change its policies.

The Ambassador asked why British people were protesting. The activists said it was of concern to all people if human rights abuses took place, environmental protections were not respected and when countries were preparing for war – we said much more of course and asked that our concerns be sent to the President. He did not seem very interested and said he did not think the President would read any report even if they decided to make one. He only came to London last year, is a diplomat and has to support his Government and is terribly busy with serious things to consider. He was very dismissive but the three activists thought it was important that they insisted on the meeting and are fairly sure he did know much more than he let on.

Solidarity protests were held in Berlin and Frankfurt (Germany), San Francisco (US) on May 9th. There has been ongoing solidarity from U.S. Catholic Workers and Veterans for Peace in and with the Je Ju struggle that has seen many priests nuns, lay Catholics & international solidarity activists arrested in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

This youtube video by Californian Catholic Worker Denis Appel shows the beauty and courage of Je Ju and the threat the military poses. Thanks to Angie Zelter for help with this report!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page