August 15-20, 2002
Context for Meeting in South Korea
The United States has used military bases in South Korea since the end of the Korean War (1950-53). In 2002, a US Army tank killed 2 middle school girls as they were walking in the street. South Korean people voiced their opposition to the US military presence in the country. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2001, the governments of Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, as strong US allies, all pledged support for the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” and passed new security laws like the USAPATRIOT Act. This meeting was hosted by a new women’s coalition, SAFE Korea.
OPEN FORUM at the Human Rights Commission in Seoul with country reports from Okinawa, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the United States, and South Korea on experiences of living with US military bases and operations.
VISIT TO SONGTAN, near Osan Air Force Base, officially designated as a “special tourist zone” with stores, restaurants, bars, and clubs that cater to US troops and other foreign workers. Since the late 1990s, women from the Philippines and former Soviet Union have been working in the bars and clubs.
DISCUSSIONS on experiences and strategies to deal with
– US military violence against women
– Environmental and health effects of US military operations
– The situation of Amerasian children Base conversion and redevelopment
– Treaties and legal agreements between the US and governments of South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines Militarism in everyday life.
INTEGRATING ART. Participants decorated fabric squares for a Peace Quilt. We viewed an exhibit of paintings by former bar women in an art therapy program organized by My Sister’s Place. Network participants exhibited artwork at a women’s gallery outside Seoul, and enjoyed a performance of original songs by well-known feminist singer and musician, Ahn Hae Kyoung.
PRESS CONFERENCE attended by progressive journalists where women from each participating country made a statement about their situation. Yu Young Nim of SAFE Korea read the meeting’s Final Statement, Seoul, Korea August 15-19, 2002.
“Our lives are fundamentally interconnected across national boundaries…. We recognize our collective responsibility … to support women and women’s leadership in voicing our opposition to war and envisioning true security.” — Final Statement 2002 meeting.