SEOUL, South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to the southern resort island of Jeju on Thursday to attend an international fleet review involving the navies of host South Korea and 12 other countries.
The president was set to deliver congratulatory remarks at the start of the fleet review, the third to be hosted by South Korea, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.
The one-day event will involve 40 warships and 24 aircraft, including 19 naval vessels from 12 other countries such as Australia, Canada and India.
It will also be attended by the official delegations from 46 countries, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The presidential office released the whereabouts of the president beforehand -- something it rarely does for safety reasons.
"The decision to build a naval base in Gangjeong village was made in 2007 and there has been a lot of conflict and pain since then, and so the president has always wished to help cure the wound," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said of the reason for Moon's trip to Jeju.
Moon served as a presidential chief of staff under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, which made the initial decision to build a port for use by both private and military vessels in the rural village on Jeju.
The residents of Gangjeong strongly protested when the subsequent Lee Myung-bak administration changed the initial plan and decided to build a strictly naval base instead.
President Moon will hold a separate meeting with the residents of the village later in the day to directly listen to what they have to say, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
"After the International Fleet Review is over, the president will hold a meeting with the residents of Gangjeong village and there, he will offer a word of consolation for the people whose minds and bodies have been hurt over the past 11 years and say the government will spearhead the efforts to help cure their wounds," the spokesman told a press briefing.
Source: Yonhap News Agency