YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea amended its curfew policy Tuesday, removing civilians, invited contractors and family members from mandatory compliance, according to a USFK press release.

All servicemembers, including those visiting South Korea on vacations or temporary duty, still are required to follow the curfew. But Tuesday’s announcement gave military personnel an extra hour on weekends and holidays.

A midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew remains in effect from Sunday to Thursday but shifts to 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and holidays.

“The curfew changes reflect the latest readiness and force protection assessments, analysis of general and specific threats, inputs from a variety of expert and leadership advisors and consideration of numerous other factors such as quality-of-life impact for all SOFA-status personnel,” the USFK release read, referring to Americans living and working throughout the peninsula under a military status of forces agreement with South Korea.

“Within the broad context for these changes, the command also weighed concerns over quality- of-life issues regarding mandatory compliance with the curfew for all civilians,” the release stated.

The order itself, which was released about 1 p.m. Tuesday and was effective immediately, encourages all civilian and contract workers to continue observing the nightly curfew. It also states that all USFK personnel — including servicemembers, civilians and contractors — must continue to avoid all off-limits businesses and neighborhoods throughout South Korea.

Last September, USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte ordered civilian and private contract workers — and their families — associated with USFK to follow the nightly curfew policy in place for servicemembers in South Korea. That decision was based on a specific threat issued by the State Department, USFK officials have said. Since then, command officials have said repeatedly the curfew was needed to ensure safety and readiness among its troops and workers.

On Tuesday, USFK officials declined to give more specifics about the September threat, or current threats, citing security reasons. But, they said, if the situation changed, the curfew could change again.

“The threat conditions are similar to pre-September,” Lt. Col. Deborah Bertrand, a USFK spokeswoman, said in a written response to Stripes. “If changes in the threat assessment warrant, the command will consider reinstating the curfew for civilians.”

In a separate part of the order, USFK officials listed a series of events they said contributed to the mandatory curfew for civilians: “an increased threat of terrorist activity” against Koreans and Americans; the U.S. presidential elections; the deployment of South Korean troops to Iraq and the Iraqi elections.

Since September, the policy has drawn sharp criticism from some workers, including some private contractors who work for companies rather than the government. This week, the union representing civilian government employees sent a letter demanding back pay for nine U.S. Army Corps of Engineers workers.

USFK’s public affairs office said the complaints were not a factor in changing the policy.

On Tuesday, the president of Local 1363 of the National Federation of Federal Employees said he was glad the curfew policy was amended but intended to continue to seek the back pay.

“It doesn’t affect our request for compensation at all,” Jeffrey Meadows said.

On Wednesday, a USFK spokesman said the requests had been forwarded to the nine workers’ commander.

“After an appropriate review, each employee will be advised of the command’s decision in this matter,” USFK spokesman David Oten stated in a written response.

What’s changed?

The curfew no longer applies to DOD contractors, civilian employees or their family members but does still apply to all U.S. military servicemembers on active duty in the Republic of Korea, including those who are on PCS, TDY, pass or leave status.

Rules for the off-installation curfew, according to a USFK statement:

During curfew hours, individuals must be on an installation, or in their off-post overnight domicile. They also may travel off-post during curfew hours to that domicile if moving directly from an on-post function or location.For other situations, an extension waiver for curfew may be authorized in writing by the first O-6 in the chain of command for off-installation functions.All persons with status-of-forces-agreement status must continue to comply with off-limits areas/establishments directives.— Stars and Stripes

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now