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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean authorities have succeeded in buying about 80 percent of the land need for Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek to expand into the peninsula’s main U.S. military installation, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday.

The MND said it is seeking a court order to let it take over the remaining 20 percent.

The land purchase is a crucial preliminary in the U.S. military’s plan to transform the camp into its main installation in South Korea by 2008.

That expansion comes as part of a larger plan in which the U.S. military will shift its forces in and north of Seoul to two regional hubs, one in Pyeongtaek, the other in the Daegu-Busan region, under an agreement between the United States and South Korea.

But the South Korean government’s land-purchase efforts have faced fervent and sometimes violent opposition this year from landowners, resident farmers and South Korean political activists.

The MND said it has been unable to locate some landowners while others have balked at selling. Accordingly, the MND said, it will seek the remaining land through court action.

Several times this year South Korean activists have staged large rallies, some of them violent, opposing the Camp Humphreys expansion and calling for the U.S. military to leave South Korea.

Under the amended Land Partnership Plan between South Korea and the United States, Camp Humphreys will triple in size, growing from about 1,230 acres to 3,558 acres by 2008. An estimated $5 billion is to be spent on construction alone. Its population also will increase, from more than 11,000 to 45,000, U.S. military officials have said.

It eventually will be the site of U.S. Forces Korea headquarters, Combined Forces Command, United Nations Command and other units and organizations including ground combat and aviation forces, officials have said.

While much construction already is under way at Camp Humphreys, the enlarging of its boundaries awaits completion of the South Korean government’s land purchase effort.

The MND said that as of Dec. 22, it had bought about 78.9 percent of the total land it needs.

Amid some residents’ continued opposition, MND also said it will invest large sums to build residential towns for those the expansion displaces.


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