YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — People who sign up with a U.S.-based VoIP service by June 21 will have the option of choosing a phone number in the United States.

Those who miss the deadline must use a South Korean company if they want the Internet calling service, meaning friends and family members must pay international calling rates.

U.S. Forces Korea deputy chief of staff Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant believes proper planning will help spare callers from the United States from having to pay expensive overseas rates.

He said there is some possibility of inconvenience.

“That is one of the drawbacks, today,” Sargeant said. “That’s not to say that in the future Korean companies won’t have the ability to purchase U.S. phone numbers, but today they don’t.”

He said that with the military community’s busy schedule — and the time difference between the peninsula and the United States — most people schedule their calls, meaning the Korea-based person likely would be the one calling home.

In the case where an emergency — or celebration — necessitates an impromptu call, he envisions the following scenario:

“Tom, this is Mom calling (from America).”

“Great Mom, I’ll talk to you in a minute.”

Tom then hangs up and calls back via his computer.

Sargeant allowed that the scenario isn’t perfect, but he stressed that the command will keep working the issue of getting its contracted South Korean Internet company to provide U.S. numbers.

“But do I think it’s going to happen in the next couple months?” he asked. “Absolutely not.”

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