Police try to arrest Father Mun (with gray hair and beard) who is protesting on a car (photo: Francesco Ahn Chang-heup)
Police arrested a retired priest yesterday during a heated protest against the building of a naval base on a popular resort island dubbed “Island of Peace.”
Father Bartholomew Mun Jung-hyun was arrested after he climbed on the roof of a police car to prevent three men protesting the construction of the base on Jeju island from being taken to a police station.
He was later charged with interfering with the duties of a public official.
The three men he had been trying to help had been detained earlier for trying to block construction work on the base near Gangjeong village. One of the men was the village headman.
Fr Mun, 71, an outspoken critic of the plan to build the base said he moved to Gangjeong, in early July to “share the suffering of the villagers opposing the base.”
After his arrest he said he was "just protesting against the unjust exercise of government authority."
A Cheju diocese spokesman said the Church would support the detained priest.
Father Mun is exercising his rights, said Fr John Go, vice-chairperson of the diocese’s Special Committee for the Island of Peace today.
Cheju diocese also opposes the naval base plan, saying it threatens peace and the environment and that it went ahead without proper consultation with the local population.
The navy and the Jeju provincial government announced Gangjeong would be the site of the new base back in June 2007.
It is expected to be completed in 2014 and become the home base of a new fleet of destroyers that will patrol the East China Sea between China and Japan.
Korean police release naval base protesters
Objections grow to Korean naval base