“It is only after the women are dead that they are elevated to heroic status and used by the men to mobilize mass protests.”
Yu-Jin Jeong grew up during the politically oppressive 1960s to 1980s when South Korea was under US-backed military dictatorships. She was active in promoting democratic reform of South Korea’s higher education curriculum. This student movement was part of a larger anti-imperialist movement that opposed the legacy of South Korea’s dictatorship. Because of her student activism, Yu-Jin was arrested and sentenced to prison for about a year. In 2000, she began research in Okinawa on the impact of US militarism and Okinawan women’s nonviolent organizing work for demilitarization and peace.
Yu-Jin’s work is related to US militarism in South Korea: sexual violence against women, military prostitution, ecological and human devastation caused by military training and bombing practice, car accidents, violent fights with civilians, and petty crimes such as burglary and theft. Yu-Jin’s primary goal is to protect and promote the rights of civilians, especially women and children, whose lives are further exploited, impoverished, and marginalized by militarism. She has worked on these issues with the National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by US Troops. Yu-Jin’s work is unique in that it makes connections between imperialism, militarism, sexism, and classism that are specific to South Korea. The male-dominant, anti-imperialist nationalist movement in South Korea disregards the human rights of women and children. Because of Korea’s patriarchal values, the women in military prostitution are easily dismissed and regarded as “dirty, lowly women” even by the politically progressive activists. Yu-Jin’s method is participatory-she listens and supports the work of other organizations that are negatively impacted by militarism. Her method also involves empowering people by giving visibility and voice to those who are victims and survivors of military violence. Yu-Jin’s activities are rooted in her understanding of solidarity-for her it represents “one’s ability to feel the suffering of others who are different from you,” nation/race/class/gender-wise. Yu-Jin’s work has influenced and inspired younger generations of feminist activists throughout South Korea. These younger women are promoting and carrying out public peace education, peace performances, and other nonviolent, creative actions in order to promote a culture of peace. The younger activists influenced by Yu-Jin are now leading the conscientious objector movement in South Korea.
National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by US Troops Safe Korea East AsiaUSPuerto Rico Women’s Network Against Militarism
Eastern Asia | Republic of Korea