Gorgeous photo increases fury over Jeju Island blasts

Gorgeous photo increases fury over Jeju Island blasts

As the Korean Defense Ministry clears land for a new naval base, one picture has islanders questioning why they chose such a beautiful spot

Gangjeong Village "Gangjeong Island" was taken by film director Rain Jung. This serene travel photograph of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island has been headlining the top trending news story on local media outlets and SNS in Korea. 

Yesterday morning, construction workers began detonating hundreds of kilograms of explosives on the Gureombi seashore at Jeju Island's Gangjeong Village to make way for a new naval base, sparking a public outcry from environmental activists, Korean netizens and Jeju citizens. 

Hundreds of activists have chained themselves to vehicles to block contractors from entering the construction site. Twelve protestors, including a Jeju council member, were "removed from the scene" by the police, according to the Korea Herald

Gangjeong Village is a small fishing town that derives most of its income from tourism. Villagers are afraid the new naval base will affect their livelihood. 

"The village is situated near one of the most beautiful walks on the Olle Trail and many travelers come to see the beautiful views," said a reporter for a local newspaper who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"The need for a new naval base is clear, but what is not clear is why they have to build one in one of the most beautiful places on the island, and threaten the tourism of Gangjeong Village. Jeju is an extremely large island and there are countless other spots that would be a better location for the base." 

Gureombi Rock 

Particular symbolism has been placed on Gureombi Rock (featured in the above photo). It features a rare topographical quality -- being comprised of a single 1.2 kilometer-long rock formed by lava flowing into the sea and rocks rising from the seabed, reported the Korea Times

The above photograph, titled "Gangjeong Village," began making the rounds on Internet communities yesterday, with posts and comments deploring the destruction of "such a beautiful place." 

The Defense Ministry, however, has ordered the preparations for the base to continue, despite an appeal by the governor of Jeju Island. 

"There is no such thing as a special Gureombi Rock," said a Defense Ministry spokesperson in a press briefing. "Such rocks can be found everywhere on Jeju." 

A haunting photo

Although it was initially reported to be taken by an American travel photographer and awarded the silver prize in the Startling Jeju International Photo Competition last month, the photograph was revealed to have been taken by the well-known Korean movie director Rain Jung, who is asking that the photo credit on all news articles, as well as the original competition results, be corrected accordingly. 

The Gureombi seashore will make way for a "military-civilian tourism port."
Also on CNNGo: How to visit Jeju Island on a dime

Frances Cha is a Digital Producer at CNN Travel. 


Read more about Frances Cha