Festival set for this week to move beyond conflict over Jeju naval base

The Navy, provincial authorities and local residents will hold a festival in and around a naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju later this week to promote harmony among them after a period of conflict over its construction, the armed service said Monday.

The festival, called the Day of Ilgangjeong, is set to take place in the fishing town of Gangjeong, now home to the Navy's Maritime Task Flotilla Seven, from Friday to Sunday. Ilgangjeong means "Gangjeong is the best" in local language.

A consultative group consisting of the representatives from the three sides organized the festival consisting of various events, including opening to the public the base and three naval vessels on Friday and Saturday, according to the Navy.

Gangjeong was announced as the site for the base in 2007, touching off protests from residents and activists. They argued the construction could undermine the local environment, tarnish Jeju's 2005 designation as an "Island of World Peace" and hurt its tourism.

The government authorities completed its construction in 2016 as they highlighted the need for the base to handle potential contingencies in waters off the country's southern coast and carry out other missions.

"All of us -- the private sector, government and military -- will make efforts to ensure we can wash away the remnants of the conflict on the occasion of this event and continue genuine co-existence and harmony," the consultative group was quoted as saying.

The festival also includes a parade by a military band and honor guard as well as a musical concert and a "friendship" soccer game.

Source: Yonhap News Agency