1,700 sign petition complaining of noise from Yongsan helipad
SEOUL — More than 1,700 South Koreans have signed a petition complaining of noise from helicopters using Yongsan Garrison’s new helipad, which officially opened in May.
The U.S. military gave its old 2.6-acre heliport, with six landing pads, back to South Korea at a ceremony earlier this year.
The land will serve as the entrance for the new National Museum of Korea, adjacent to the U.S. base.
Negotiations over moving the helipad took almost seven years, officials have said, with a major complaint being the old flight path took helicopters too near the new museum.
An agreement with the Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Culture and Tourism was reached in 2004.
Military officials rerouted its flight routes, sending helicopter traffic over nearby apartment buildings, which the petition signers say is causing noise damage. The residents filed a civil grievance with the Ministry of National Defense, said a spokesman from the ministry’s Military Installation Department.
They want the helicopters to use another route.
The spokesman said museum officials, fearful of damage to national treasures, are adamant the flights steer clear of the museum.
While U.S. Forces Korea officials were unable to comment on the issue when contacted late Monday afternoon, they said earlier this year that the new site, which has only one landing pad, was expected to restrict most flights to flag officers.
A 20-foot high, 24-inch thick sound barrier was to be built around the helipad and nearby houses were to be soundproofed, officials said.
A typical day was to see helicopters taking off and landing about six times, officials said, and the largest helicopter that can land there is a UH-60 Black Hawk.
Both U.S. and South Korean aviation units were to use the pad, officials have said.