HAVE THE LOCAL PEOPLE BECOME INVISIBLE? A CASE STUDY OF A MILITARY INSTALLATION ON JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA.
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This study examines the effects of the construction of a military base on local communities on Jeju Island, South Korea. The South Korean military's intent in building these facilities is to demonstrate military sovereignty to neighboring countries while also providing socio-economic benefits to the local population (Korean Navy, Ministry of National Defense of Korea). However, local communities and NGOs continue to resist contemporary military construction policies due to the ecological, social and economic impacts of this process, which are exacerbated by the government’s unilateral approach and its failure to implement a system where the surrounding localities can influence construction policies (Sze et al., 2009). While resistance to military facilities is widely documented, this research highlights the disconnect between the different political scales represented by the military and the local community, or those who are empowered and the average local citizen, whose voice has been marginalized. This study focuses on the local people’s experience through the theoretical frame of environmental justice, and the concepts of scale and political ecology while using phenomenology to analyze open-ended interview data. This research concluded that 1) the local people were made voiceless and invisible through marginalization by the government; 2) this case is an environmental injustice case by identifying how the current process marginalizes local communities and environmental impacts through the analytical frames of environmental justice and the concept of scale; and 3) the combination of environmental justice theory and the concept of scale from political ecology is a more effective application of this study and can contribute to future related studies.