Jeju is a South Korean island known for its natural beauty. It's even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, controversy has come to the island in the last few years. At the center of the debate is a naval base under construction in Jeju.
Some argue that the base will benefit the economy and strengthen the military in the region. But many of the island's residents are opposed to it being built. The base's environmental impact has become a major concern.
Brother Dohyun Park, also known as Brother Johann, is a Korean Jesuit who has closely monitored construction on the island. He says that the people of Jeju have been deceived and that the project isn't environmentally sustainable.
According to the Jesuit brother, most of the island's residents oppose the base, but the military, police, and large corporations retain most of the power. This makes it difficult to fight against the project.
Hundreds of people have been arrested for protesting against the base since construction began in 2007. A few dozen of them have even been imprisoned. One of those who has spent time behind bars is Brother Johann.
The Korean Coast Guard arrested him for trespassing while he was monitoring the construction on a kayak. He ultimately spent more than six months in prison, and although he has been released, the legal case against him has not been resolved.
Brother Johann said that while his time in prison was difficult, it allowed him to reflect on bigger issues. He passed most of his time reading, writing, and praying.
While he is concerned about that construction on Jeju Island, he said that it's just a symptom of a bigger problem in his country. Militarism and consumerism are dominating the culture. Brother Johann believes that if people become less concerned with financial and military prestige, they can have more energy to focus on what's really important in life.