|Je Jung Gu fomented the student movement which confronted the Park Chung-hee
regime. He was arrested for participation in that student movement, which intended to replace the military government with a democratic government. In 1974 the court sentenced him to 15 years in prison and he lived in prison more than 1 year. He was also arrested and imprisoned several times after that.
Je Jung Gu was trying to avoid government surveillance and in the process became familiar with the squatter shack settlement of the urban poor where he lived. From the moment he layed eyes on the squatter shack settlement he thought about spending his life among the urban poor, so he moved into the shacks along the Cheongkye Stream. In 1975 the government removed all the shacks from along the Cheongkye Stream. Je Jung Gu attempted to have resettlement take place in groups but government interference prevented it.
He moved into the squatter settlement in Yangpyeong-dong with Father Jung Il-woo, whom he had met in 1973 in the Cheongkye Stream squatter settlement. In 1977 the government removed all the shacks from this area also. The two of them promoted a project for a group resettlement. They obtained land in Shiheung in Gyeongki Province and constructed a settlement for 170 households. In 1979 they constructed a second cooperative settlement for 164 evicted households. In 1985 they constructed a third cooperative housing settlement for 105 households who had been evicted during the Mok-dong Development Project.
The city of Seoul, in preparation for the Asian Games in 1986 and the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988 forcefully evicted the poor from their settlements and built apartments there. Lacking alternatives the poor could only engage in struggle. Je Jung Gu stood with the poor in their struggle and became known as the godfather of the social movement of the poor. Beginning in 1992 he was elected to the National Assembly and there he was energetic in gaining legislation addressing the housing problems of the poor and institutionalizing housing stability. In the midst of his labors he developed lung cancer and died in February, 1999.