The elderly women increased public awareness about anti-nuclear activism.
“People across the nation, though a small number, came to support us. We extend sincere gratitude to all of them. We hope that our acceptance of the award will grab even more people’s attention,” said Jeong Inchool, one of recipients of the 26th Women’s Movement of the Year Award. In her acceptance remarks, she pleaded for more support, while expressing appreciation.
The Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU), the awarder, commented “These women played a critical role in launching an alternative movement in resistance against the construction of transmission towers. Instead of relying on policies and negotiations, they stood in solidarity and encouraged others to join the movement by making small changes in their lives. They have initiated the creation of harmony between the current generation and the next generation.”
Jeong who lives about 500 meters away from a site where the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) plans to build transmission towers currently stays in a tent built to stage demonstrations. In a telephone interview held on March 5, Jeong said she was not sure whether she and her colleagues would be able to make it to the annual Korean Women’s Conference on March 8 because they sleep in the tent in rotations.
Jeong and her friends started to participate in the movement since 2007. They staged sit-ins against Kepco and conducted electromagnetic waves tests near existing towers. It has already been three years since villagers in their 70s and 80s launched physical confrontations in 2011.
The construction resumed last September, following a temporary closure when some of elderly protesters passed out during a demonstration in May. Older villagers took to the hills, built huts, and warmed themselves in the winter with kerosene heaters and electric pads.
Jeong lamented that she can’t even leave the encampment to look after her husband who recently had a gastric cancer surgery because there are few last holdouts.
“Our goal is not to get money or compensation. We believe that transmission towers and nuclear plants would endanger the lives of our children who are the future of the nation. We, the elderly, will pass away soon. For the sake of our children and the nation, we will die fighting against steel monstrosities.”