The Yonhap news reported that the South Korean national defense minister said, “The Jeju naval base is essential for strengthening the control ability on the southern area.” [Southern area is basically the sea lanes that China uses to import 80% of its oil.]
“If the base is set up, it could become the tremendous special benefit to the Jeju Island people, such as population being increased by 10,000 and the economy being vitalized.”
The villagers are banking that a lawsuit they are now pursuing, centered around environmental consequences of the base construction, will help them stop the base from being established.
The U.S. and South Korean government are expanding their military alliance - what they are calling "strategic flexibility" - to make it a more mobile alliance.
Strategic flexibility is a transformation of, or critical departure from the traditional U.S. - South Korean military alliance, which was originally aimed at North Korea, stipulated in the US-SK Mutual Defense Treaty in 1953, right after the Korean war.
NATO will be utilized and expanded into East Asia to effectively surround and control China just as it is now being expanded eastward in Europe to surround Russia. Strategic flexibility also means that South Korean military forces will become more expeditionary as we today see them being sent to Afghanistan to augment the U.S. military occupation.
Thus the Navy base on Jeju Island will play a key role for the U.S. in its strategy of integrating the South Korean military into the broader U.S. imperial agenda. They call it "interoperability".
The villagers of Gangjeong on the island, who will suffer from the base, will now sit in the middle of a dangerous chess game as the U.S. makes a move to checkmate Russia and China in the region.