S. Koreans beefing up security at Twin Bridges
August 19, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — South Korea’s Ministry of Defense is taking new security measures to stem a surge on trespassing at the Twin Bridges Training Area, a ministry spokesman said.
The South Korean army detained six mountain bikers and four metal scavengers Aug. 8 and Aug. 9 at the range, which is located near the Demilitarized Zone and used by 2nd Infantry Division units for about a quarter of the year.
The alleged trespassers face up to one year in jail and a three million won ($3,000) fine for violating the military facility protection law, the ministry spokesman said.
The army is now adding closed circuit television cameras at several points throughout the mountainous 7.7 square-mile complex, building barbed-wire fences and taking a hard line on enforcement.
"[Trespassers] will be turned over to the police immediately as soon as we see them," said the spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
"If they run, we will trace them to the end with cameras."
Second Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Vincent Mitchell said he was unaware of any trespassing incidents during U.S. training exercises this year.
Since last summer, mountain bikers began showing up around the range. Unable to find suitable spaces at suburban mountains crowded with climbers, dozens of bikers began riding on the range during weekends.
But recently, the bikers have begun trespassing during training days, when live fire exercises may be happening.
"We’ve tried to do what we can to keep them out of [the range], including strengthening patrols, reminding them that this place is off-limits and setting up warning signs," the defense spokesman said.
"A growing number of people are consistently coming up, causing great risks to the forces and themselves."
The range is also subject to protests by some local residents and civic groups from other parts of the country that typically protest military activities, because of a plan that could add up to 12.7 more square miles to the rural training area.
The expansion is still under review, the defense spokesman said. It is the final phase of a plan drawn up in 1988, he said.