Goh supports U.S. Embassy at Coiner
Stars and Stripes May 7, 2004
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — South Korea’s acting president said Tuesday he supported using part of a U.S. military camp next to Yongsan Garrison for a new U.S. Embassy — a new twist in a long-delayed project.
Goh Kun said the South Korean government has no objections to placing a new embassy compound on the grounds of Camp Coiner, U.S. military land that extends north of Yongsan Garrison, South Korean newspapers reported Wednesday. The land now is used to house many servicemembers stationed at Yongsan.
The surprise comment added a new tangle to complex plans to realign U.S. forces in South Korea. The two sides agreed to move military units at Yongsan Garrison south to the Pyongtaek area by 2007 but no firm plans on how to fund the move have been set.
Negotiators planned to meet Thursday and Friday in Washington to discuss the move.
Embassy officials are still awaiting the South Korean government’s reaction to building the chancery on the original piece of land that was picked out, said spokeswoman Maureen Cormack. That land — near the U.S. ambassador’s residence in the Chung-dong neighborhood — was the former site of the Kyonggi girls high school.
The United States bought the site in 1986 on the Korean government’s recommendation, intending to build an embassy there.
The plan stalled after civic groups said the land had historical value. The Korean government has conducted historical surveys of the site but has taken no official position on whether the embassy should be built there.
The site “remains our first choice,” Cormack said.
The United States plans a new $240 million, 15-story embassy facility and 54-resident apartments for its workers. Seoul city officials blocked initial construction in 2002 pending a historical review of the Chung-dong site.