Bomb to Church Bells

An amazing story from 1950s Korea that my grandfather told. My uncle says, “And you may recall he sent the story to Readers’ Digest, ‘Life in This Wide World’. They published it as the lead story in that section and added a drawing of a genuine Korean bus etc. and sent him $100.”

An earnest young Korean deacon from the country came to me one day with a problem. “We have a 500 pound bomb; can you tell us how to cut it in two to make church bells?”

I replied, “Where is the bomb, and how did you get it?”

“Five years ago the Americans dropped it on a bridge outside our village, but it didn’t explode. We have brought it to Chonju.”

“How did you bring it to the city?” I asked.

“On the bus, of course. It was so big and heavy we had to pay two fairs for it, and even so it smashed the bus steps when we took it off!”

“Was the bomb unloaded?”

“No, we screwed the thing off one end, but we couldn’t get the inside stuff out.”

This was the kind of “hot potato” to pass on in a hurry, so I told him to take it to Korean Army Headquarters, have it unloaded, and then cut it into with a hacksaw. When I saw him the next day, I asked if the army had unloaded the bomb.

“Oh no! We didn’t want to bother them. We found a man who knew how to cut the bomb in two. We kept pouring water on it and sawed it right in two. It was full of little white pellets, and they say we can sell them to fishermen to explode under water to stun fish, and that will pay for having our church bells made!”