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SEOUL — The South Korean government announced last week that it will offer part of Yongsan Garrison for development of high-rise residences and businesses, reserving only a portion for park space, according to a news release from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation.

The news prompted a reaction from Seoul’s newly elected mayor, Oh Se-hoon, who campaigned on making Yongsan Garrison into a public, green space. On Friday, he criticized the national government for overstepping its bounds and going against Seoul residents’ wishes.

U.S. Forces Korea plans to turn over nearly all of Yongsan’s 635 acres to South Korea as U.S. forces reduce and move south of Seoul in coming years. In the past, Korean officials have said they would preserve the land as a park, though no official plan exists.

Last week, the ministry said it would forward a zoning plan to the National Assembly for approval. That plan calls for designating space as parkland, development land and a third category used as maintenance and border areas, the ministry’s statement said.

The news rocked Seoul City Hall. Oh, a conservative who began his four-year term this month, asked the Assembly to consider adding a clause to prevent the construction minister from being allowed to change the future use of the land.

The public is allowed to comment on the Construction Ministry’s proposal until Aug. 18.

In 2007, the ministry will submit a more detailed plan for urban and park development. No estimate was given last week for the cost of the park, which will be paid out of the Korean treasury.


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