Surveyors begin working on contested land near Humphreys
May 17, 2006
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Surveyors for South Korea’s defense ministry began measuring a large tract of contested farmland Monday as a key step in readying it for the eventual expansion of Camp Humphreys.
Officials also will take soil samples and search for possible historic relics at a later date on the expansion site, a 2,328-acre tract of farmland near Camp Humphreys.
Monday’s announcement followed a weekend in which thousands of anti-U.S. protesters who oppose the expansion project held rallies in downtown Seoul on Saturday and near Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek on Sunday.
Camp Humphreys is scheduled to eventually triple in size and become the U.S. military’s main installation on the peninsula under a South Korean-U.S. agreement.
Authorities reported some scuffles during the weekend between police and protesters, but nothing like the severe clashes of May 4 and 5 in Daechu-ri, a village that borders Camp Humphreys.
The defense ministry said Monday that the preparatory steps were to include surveyor teams measuring the precise boundaries of the area earmarked for the expansion.
Later, engineering teams will take ground samples as part of the site’s geological survey.
And teams will search for any historic relics that may be on the grounds.
South Korean authorities on May 4 declared the land a restricted-access military zone.
Troops have since thrown up an 18-mile barrier at part of the site consisting of concertina razor-wire, water-filled trenches, barricades and other obstacles.
Meanwhile, Camp Humphreys officials said Monday that they have lifted some travel restrictions imposed because of last weekend’s protests.
But travel in or near towns and villages bordering Camp Humphreys, except for persons going to and from home, remains off-limits to the U.S. military community until further notice, said Susan Barkley, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Area III Support Activity at the post.
The South Korean government in 2005 purchased the farm acreage and said residents would have to move out.
Most have but some have refused to leave.
The government has since told them they have until the end of June to move.