Humphreys holdouts given more time to move
May 18, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean authorities have extended by four months the deadline for holdout residents living near Camp Humphreys to move from their homes, South Korean government officials said Tuesday.
The government has decided to seek the backing of the courts in its effort to move the residents out, the officials said.
“We have to consider their right to live there,” one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The government would follow the court’s rulings in the eviction matter, and would seek a court’s go-ahead before using force to evict the holdouts, the source said.
The residents are living on part of a 2,328-acre expanse of farmland that the government bought in 2005 toward Camp Humphreys’ eventual expansion. Under a South Korean-U.S. agreement, the post is set to triple in size and serve as the main U.S. military installation on the peninsula.
While most residents have moved out, some have refused to leave. About 90 or more families are still living in two villages near Camp Humphreys — Daechu-ri and Dodu-ri — officials said Tuesday. One official said authorities believe the holdouts number about 300, mostly in Daechu-ri.
In April, South Korea’s defense ministry wrote the residents giving them until the end of June to move. But officials have extended the deadline to the end of October.
Since 2005, local farmers and anti-U.S. activists have resisted their government’s moves to help Camp Humphreys expand. Activists have mounted large demonstrations near Camp Humphreys, leading often to violent clashes with riot police. Farmers earlier this spring defied a government farming ban at the site and planted a new spring rice crop in hopes of delaying the expansion project.
But on May 4, officials deployed a security force of thousands to the area and declared it a restricted-access military zone. Army engineer troops since have set up an 18-mile barrier of concertina razor-wire, water-filled trenches and other obstacles to hinder intruders.
On Monday, teams from the Korea Cadastral Survey Corporation began measuring the boundaries of the expansion site, the first of several preliminary steps to ready the land for development, the defense ministry said.