Responding to international pressure, South Korean authorities released from prison on Wednesday a well-known film critic who waged a 60-day hunger strike to protest the construction of a South Korean naval base on the Korean island of Jeju.
Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, former chair of the Korean Association of Film Critics, was given a suspended jail sentence of one and a half years and two years probation.
Still unable to eat, Yoon-Mo, 56, is recovering in a Jeju hospital where he was visited today by Peter Kang U-il, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and bishop of the diocese of Jeju.
Yoon-Mo protested a South Korean base where U.S. warships are expected to port. In the past, the South Korean Navy has admitted U.S. warships can visit the port but has denied it will be a permanent station for U.S. forces, or part of a missile defense program. Critics of the base say otherwise. Kyoungeun Cha of the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, writes that "Seoul plans to dock Aegis-equipped destroyers at Jeju. These warships are the main military component of the U.S. missile defense system." For more on the U.S.-South Korean alliance at Jeju see Cha's article.
Yoon-Mo was arrested April 6 while he and other residents of Gangjeong village impeded construction of the base by locking themselves to earth-moving equipment.