Support our mission
 

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Residents who for several years refused to leave their homes to make way for the planned expansion of Camp Humphreys have finally agreed to relocate, South Korea’s defense ministry announced Wednesday.

The announcement caps months of government efforts to find a peaceful way to remove the residents from their homes in Pyeongtaek without touching off a repeat of the violence that marked earlier attempts in 2005 and 2006.

The residents will receive government money and other help in moving elsewhere in Pyeongtaek, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said.

The residents have agreed to leave the area by March 31.

Government officials have said the departure would be a crucial step in clearing the way for Humphreys to triple in size and expand onto a 2,328-acre tract of what had been neighboring farmland. The residents live in villages along that tract.

Humphreys is to become the U.S. military’s flagship installation on the peninsula under a South Korea-U.S. agreement. The project is to be completed by 2008 under the agreement, but the ministry has predicted recently it might not finish until 2013.

Wednesday’s announcement came after a stepped-up round of negotiations that began Jan. 2 between defense ministry officials and the residents.

The agreement will see about 180 people from about 59 households move to temporary homes elsewhere within Pyeongtaek, the defense ministry spokesman said.

To compensate the residents for moving from the contested lands, the government will pay each household 10,000,000 won (about $10,000). And residents age 65 and older will receive 200,000 won (about $200) per month for the next 10 years.

The residents lived in Daechu-ri, Dodu-ri, Dongchan-ri and Nae-ri, in the Pyeongtaek area. The temporary homes are to be located in Nowa-ri and Namsan-ri.

In addition, the defense ministry will offer the entire group a 245-acre parcel of farmland in Seosan, Chungnam province. The defense ministry official said the farmland is about a two-hour drive from their current villages.

Until May 2006 the lands were the scene of pitched battles between South Korean riot police and protesters resisting the expansion.

But in May 2006 the South Korean government deployed security forces that seized control of the lands from anti-expansion activists.

Since then, government forces have transformed the tract into a restricted-access military zone crisscrossed with obstacle belts that include razor-wire barriers and water-filled trenches. South Korean army troops guard the perimeter.

Last month, South Korean work crews began the first steps in readying the first portion of the land for expansion.

Workers are to eventually blanket the entire tract with landfill that will serve as a foundation for construction of new facilities — barracks, motor pools and headquarters buildings, training sites and a wide array of recreational and other amenities.

Migrated

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up