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The Korean American Partnership Council was formed in November after months of anti- American and anti-U.S. military protests. The demonstrations followed an incident in which a 2nd Infantry Division vehicle crushed two 13-year-old South Korean girls to death on an off-base road in June.

The council includes 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. John R. Wood and Chung Seung-woo, vice governor of Kyonggi Province.

The agreement is similar to a charter, said Maj. Brian Maka, 2nd ID public affairs officer. It was the third meeting of the KAPC, which meets monthly.

“This council is an example of the relationships that we need to establish as good neighbors,” Wood said in a news release.

The council talks about U.S. and South Korean military law, quality-of-life issues for soldiers, community projects, safety issues and opportunities for Korean businesses in Kyonggi Province, which hosts numerous U.S. Army camps.

“After the traffic accident last June, both parties kind of felt the need to talk,” said Chong Kyu-chang, who works for the general affairs division at the Kyonggi Provincial Office and is a working-level officer for the KAPC. “There had been no window for civil petitions before, so North Kyonggi residents hadn’t had anywhere to go for their problems.”

The council allows residents who live near training areas to voice their concerns, Chong said. The language barrier had prevented people from coming forward, he said.

Kyonggi officials have opened a special center to which residents can forward problems, Chong said. Before the council is supposed to meet, the Kyonggi Provincial Office collects issues and concerns, he said.

Issues too wide-ranging for the council may be forwarded to the South Korean Defense Ministry, Chong said. The Defense Ministry owns the training ranges and property occupied by U.S. forces. Chong said his office has asked Korean soldiers assigned to U.S. Army units to translate.

Lee Jong-yol, vice commissioner of Pochon County, said he feels positive about the KAPC and hopes residents in his county will benefit.

“We used to exchange written documents about each other’s problems, but there had been no real contact,” Lee said. “I really believe a lot of things can be accomplished this way. It’s very good move in that sense.”

Choe Song-won contributed to this report.


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