Korea as colony: Building cluster bombs for U.S. in Imhwa

Image: Strawberry greenhouses in Imhwa village

By Bruce Gagnon,
Posted in Organizing Notes, 27 February, 2024

On Monday we drove an hour from Daejeon to a small strawberry farming village called Imhwa of about 300 residents that is being destroyed by a new factory to build internationally banned cluster bombs for Washington.

The village is ringed by beautiful mountains with a gentle stream flowing thru it. Along side the rocks on the edge of the spring is a Korean version of parsley. 

We first had a packed meeting inside the town hall and I was asked to tell about the space issue – and particularly about Huntsville, Alabama where the Nazi rocket scientists were brought at the end of WW2 under ‘Operation Paperclip’ to create the US space program.

Villagers listened to my talk

A media worker from Jeju Island (who had filmed my talks there) joined us in Imhwa and did a live broadcast of my talk and our visit to the area where the new factory has been built at the edge of the mountains. Last I heard he had over 12,000 hits on his broadcast nationwide.

The cluster bomb factory had been in another part of South Korea but caught fire due to the gunpowder inside erupting. The place burned down and started a wildfire in the nearby mountains. So the weapons company was desperate to find a new location as the local population there wanted them gone.

The Imhwa mayor, and a few other leaders, eagerly saw a money making scheme and gave support for their village to be used as the new site. Local residents began gathering petition signatures to oppose the factory and lately the mayor has been calling those who signed it, urging them to withdraw their support. Some people in the village believe that some of the leaders were likely bribed to support the factory.

New cluster bomb factory in Imhwa

An environmental impact study was being done while the first buildings were being built signaling that the government was not at all serious about damage to the many endangered wildlife that flourish in the area. 

Like the US, the ROK never signed the cluster bomb treaty. The US has been giving cluster bombs to Ukraine and to Israel so local residents speculate that the South Korean government was recruited to help re-stock the US supply of the inhumane weapons.

I was told that 430 kilograms of gunpowder is coming into the village every day. People fear a re-make of the last tragedy where the factory blew up and caused wildfires.

Warheads to deliver the cluster bomblets are also being manufactured in Imhwa at the same site.

A Joint Action Group has been formed of Imhwa villagers and people from other nearby communities. Yongha Bae from the Mennonite Church is one of the leaders and was the person briefing us during our visit.

Our host for this visit was Yongha Bae from the Mennonite Church and a member of the Joint Action Group opposing the cluster bomb factory.

Bae told us that the ROK government is planing to sue anyone who signed the petition as a way of intimidating opposition. I’d venture to guess that the US military told the ROK government to stop any movement against the new factory. So much for democracy.

I asked if any Imhwa residents were working in the factory. Bae told us that only one security guard and a couple office workers were from the village. The rest of the workers have come from  other places.

Our traveling crew at lunch with our host (on left in red)

Evening talk in Daejeon 

Thirty-sixpeople attended by talk that evening in Daejeon city. It was held at a Catholic church.

At the start of each talk I stand and make a brief statement about Israel-US genocide in Palestine. Last night one of the key women (Kim Eun-sil) who helped organize my trip (and has donated her car for our travels) stood by me with a Gaza sign she made. It was even more sad last night as I mentioned the 25 year old American GI Aaron Bushnell who set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC.

Daejeon’s mayor has publicly stated he wants to turn his city into another ‘Huntsville, Alabama’ (called the Pentagon of the South). It’s where the US sent 100 of the German Nazi scientists/engineers after WW2 to create the US space program. Today Huntsville is a leading research and development center for the militarization of space.

After many trips to the ROK since 2009, and seeing this basic story repeated in places like Gangjeong village on Jeju Island or our visit to Kunsan AFB last Saturday, it appears to me that South Korea is being turned into one big colonial US military base to be aimed at China-North Korea-Russia. The evidence is over whelming.

Its much the same in the US today.  America’s #1 industrial export product is weapons. And when weapons are your #1 industrial export, what is the global marketing strategy for that product line?

War….and the more the better!

This is a perfect illustration of the spiritual decay of the US and its imperial allies around the globe. They’ve surrendered their heart and souls to the corrupt and decadent war machine culture.

God forbid….

(Photos by Sung-Hee, Seon and Sunny)

See: Original Post

See also: “Space industry erodes the space, the commons, and destroys the future“, peace activist Bruce Gagnon’s Daejeon lecture on the 26th. The final lecture will be in Seoul on the 29th (by Kim Na-hee)