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PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Troops at the Army’s helicopter base on Camp Humphreys in South Korea soon should be watching movies inside a newly renovated base theater.

A $65,000 renovation of the theater’s interior, which began Sept. 30, is to end Friday. Changes include 496 new seats, new lights, flooring and wall paneling, and improvements to the ceiling, said Bart Mirabal, Camp Humphreys’ public works chief.

The Army is doing an extensive construction program to ready the central South Korean base, on 1,230 acres 45 miles south of Seoul, to be a major troop hub in coming years.

The interior renovation “is going to cause great impact on the community because this is the only theater that Humphreys has and … the Army has free movies so it gets a lot of use,” Mirabal said.

The theater shows movies free under an 8th U.S. Army troop morale initiative, he said.

The base has been showing movies at the Community Activity Center until the interior renovation is complete.

“All the existing seats have been removed,” Mirabal said; they’re to be disposed of “because they’re in pretty bad shape. The ceiling — we scrubbed the old paint.” The lights, he said, are old and do a poor job, “so we’re putting in new ones.”

A second project — to build a theater parking lot, install ramps and other amenities for disabled patrons, and renovate the building’s exterior — is in the planning stages for March or April, Mirabal said. That stage should take about two months and cost more than $350,000.

The interior renovation “is the first phase of this project,” he said. Next spring “we’re going to … do the outside, put new siding on the building. We’re going to fix the front. Right now the theater is not handicapped-accessible. And we’re also going to be constructing additional parking.”

One aim of the exterior renovation will be to make the theater look more like the other buildings — recently built or renovated — that are concentrated in the base’s “downtown” section, said Susan Barkley, Area III spokeswoman.

Eventually, base officials will build an entirely new theater and new gym, part of the ongoing plan to turn Camp Humphreys into a first-rate military installation with more troops and an ever-growing number of dependent families.

The existing theater “is only to take care of the current situation,” Mirabal said.

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