City wants compensation for hosting of Rodriguez Range
SEOUL — Pocheon city officials are asking the South Korean government for millions of dollars worth of funding to make up for the continued presence of U.S. Forces Korea’s largest live-fire range.
Although USFK plans to relocate its northernmost bases south of Seoul by 2012, it will continue to use the 22 ranges within the Rodriguez Range complex in Pocheon.
Kim Hong-jin, chief of Pocheon’s Policy Development Division, said that local residents put up with noise, property damage and disruptions to daily life that call for governmental compensation.
However, Kim strongly denied a South Korean media report last week that quoted an anonymous city official as saying that Pocheon would launch protests and rallies calling for the range’s relocation if they weren’t compensated.
“We cannot dare to suggest shutting down the firing range, in the interest of national security,” Kim said. “What we are asking for is our deserved fair compensation for the sacrifices we are making.”
Kim said Pocheon is making its case to the South Korean government, not USFK.
No discussions have taken place between the U.S. and South Korean government regarding Pocheon compensation, a USFK spokesman said.
Pocheon is asking for wide-ranging financial assistance that would include paying for the extension of a Seoul subway line to the city. In December, South Korea opened its northernmost subway station at Soyosan, which lies north of Dongducheon and about 30 minutes by vehicle from Rodriguez Range.
Pocheon also wants support for projects in neighborhoods next to the range, additional highway funding, support in upgrading the Hantan River dam and other regulatory and economic considerations, Kim said.