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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — White license plates will be issued next year to U.S. soldiers and Department of Defense civilians, allowing Seoul city officials to track down base drivers who ignore traffic tickets.

The new registration program the South Korean government began Dec. 1 stems from an April agreement with U.S. Forces Korea to improve traffic ticket processing.

The new license plates will be the same as those issued to Korean drivers, replacing the green plates that have a distinctive number indicating a military-registered vehicle, according to USFK.

Drivers renewing safety stickers next year will have to change to the new plates.

Base officials say there are about 14,000 vehicles registered to USFK personnel and expect all plates to be changed by December 2004.

Camp Humphreys personnel and Osan Air Base personnel will go to Pyongtaek City Hall to register as a “temporary situation,” USFK officials said, adding they didn’t know how long the travel time is to the office.

Camp Kim will continue to register vehicles for Areas I and II.

Base vehicle registration offices will handle the plates at Camp Carroll and Kunsan Air Base.

The Camp Walker office will register vehicles for people in Taegu, and Camp Hialeah is still working on a registration site, USFK officials said.

When registering, drivers also must show their insurance policy, not just an insurance card. Base vehicles must carry insurance as required under South Korean law.

Vehicle registration information will be shared with Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and South Korean government offices will send traffic violations monthly to the base. Those tickets will be routed through U.S. mail to violators.

Violations will be recorded in personnel records through the Biometric Identification System, USFK officials said. Vehicle owners will not be able to sell, export or register their vehicles until fines are paid.

USFK did not respond to questions regarding how much personal information will be released to South Korean authorities.

The Korean National Police can request the base suspend USFK driver licenses, according to USFK.

The South Korean government long has complained servicemembers flouted traffic fines because base vehicles were not in the automated database, USFK officials said. Military officials said tickets were written in Korean and arrived months late, often after servicemembers on one- and two-year tours had left.

But an official with Yongsan-gu Traffic Guidance Division said Friday that in early 2000 police began putting English-language stickers on tickets explaining how to pay traffic fines. The sticker says tickets are payable at banks and post offices.

USFK says servicemembers are advised they must pay traffic tickets but did not respond to a Dec. 3 query asking what has happened to about $500,000 worth of unpaid tickets generated since 2000.

U.S. officials asked the South Korean government earlier this year to scrap the unpaid fines, but the South Korean government still wants the money, said Kim Chul-hwan, secretary of the Construction and Transportation Ministry’s motor vehicle management division.

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