Parts of Yongsan Garrison among a dozen US military sites being returned to South Korea
By SETH ROBSON AND YOO KYONG CHANG | Published: December 11, 2020
Parts of Yongsan Garrison and the former headquarters of Stars and Stripes in Seoul are among a dozen U.S. military sites that will be returned to South Korea by U.S. forces, according U.S. and South Korean officials.
The decision, which did not include timelines for the handovers, was made during a virtual Status of Forces Agreement Joint Committee meeting involving both nations Friday, according to a statement that day.
“The parties agree that further delays aggravate the economic and social challenges of the local communities surrounding the camps and that the returns process should be expedited,” the statement said.
Included in a list of facilities is the Far East Engineer District Compound in Seoul’s Dongdaemun neighborhood that was home to Stars and Stripes’ South Korean headquarters before it relocated to Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul, in September 2018.
Also on the list are parts of Pilsung Air Range, Taebaek; parts of Camp Walker, Daegu; Commander Naval Forces Korea Detachment, Pohang; parts of Camp Mobile, Dongducheon; Camp Jackson, Uijeongbu; Sungnam Golf Course, Hanam; Seobinggo Compound, Seoul; Niblo Barracks, Seoul; 8th Army (Religious) Retreat Center, Seoul; Camp Kim, Seoul; and parts of Yongsan Garrison, Seoul.
The committee included Ko Yunju, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ North American Affairs Bureau, and U.S. Forces Korea deputy commander Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus.
Its statement Friday said the committee discussed cleaning up contamination at the sites.
The two sides will continue to discuss responsibility for remediating contamination at bases still in use by U.S. forces and improving their environmental management, the statement said.
Both sides will continue to develop contamination management criteria, establish procedures for joint contamination surveys and review and possibly improve reporting and joint investigation procedures, the statement said.
“The two sides vowed to continue bilateral cooperation and discussions concerning the safety of both U.S. and Korean citizens while balancing the need for USFK and [South Korean] forces to maintain a high level of readiness required to successfully defend the Republic of Korea at a moment’s notice,” the statement said.