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16th of October 2018

International



Kayaking protesters block U.S. Navy ship at event off South Korea

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was blocked entry to the Jeju Navy base by a group of kayak protesters on Thursday.

Some 200 civic activists in kayaks paddled out to the sea off the base to protest the 2018 International Fleet Review, interrupting the entry of the U.S. aircraft carrier.

The USS Ronald Reagan, one of the Navy's largest warships participating in the naval event, has been rescheduled to enter Friday, according to a South Korean Navy official, Munhwa Ilbo reported.

The U.S. warship attended a nautical parade, as scheduled, which is a highlight of the fleet review that featured 40 ships and 24 aircraft demonstrating their naval prowess. The fleet review runs until Sunday.

Japan decided not to participate in the parade after Tokyo drew fierce criticism in South Korean toward its plan to fly the controversial Rising Sun flag, a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression during World War II, at the parade.

Amid mounting public fury, the Japanese Navy announced it would not participate in the event. China also did not participate. Beijing decided not to send its warship for an undisclosed reason.

Hundreds of South Korean protesters gathered in front of the Jeju Navy base holding signs reading, "We oppose the International Fleet Review that destroys world peace."

South Korean President Moon Jae-in met residents of Gangjeong village, where the Jeju Navy base is located, to talk about their decade-long protest. Villagers and civic activists have been opposed to the base for a decade.

"The president will hold a meeting with Gangjeong village residents to talk about their 11-year-long protests and the government's plan to heal their pains," said Kim Eui-kyeom, a presidential office spokesman said in a briefing on Thursday.

"I console Jeju residents for their pains from the establishment of the Jeju Navy base. I will try my best to cure their wounds and pains of Gangjeong Village residents," Moon said at the opening ceremony.

"I will make the Jeju Navy base, a base for peace, not a war base."

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