S. Koreans mull fate of prime real estate after U.S. military moves out
November 29, 2006
SEOUL — The debate over what to do with hundreds of acres of prime real estate when the U.S. military moves out of Seoul in two years has shifted underground — literally.
South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination wants to build a shopping and entertainment plaza under portions of Yongsan Garrison, which is to become the Yongsan National Park under a plan championed by Seoul politicians.
The national government says the business venture will attract people to the park and rent money can be used to help with park maintenance and management.
Seoul officials, however, are blasting the plan.
“We are strongly opposed to their plan … ,” said Kim Myeong-yong, director of Seoul’s urban planning division.
The underground development plan does not match the ecological spirit of the planned park, Kim said.
City officials want 661 acres to be used for the park. Remaining military sites near Yongsan, such as Army transportation parking lots, are to be sold.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon campaigned on the promise that the entire area would be made a park.
According to local news reports, Oh said during a Seoul city council meeting Monday he would be in favor of relocating the Dragon Hill Lodge, which is to remain a U.S. military asset.
There were no further details available on Monday on how that plan would be enacted.