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Kim Gamel

US military uses South Korean labs for coronavirus tests on troops stationed elsewhere

Struggling with its own cases, the U.S. military said Monday that it has used South Korean civilian laboratories to conduct coronavirus tests on samples from American troops stationed elsewhere.

Smell test: US Army garrison in South Korea tries new way to sniff out coronavirus

People trying to enter U.S. installations in the southeastern city were being randomly asked if they can smell apple vinegar as part of the health screening process.


South Korean police accidentally shot US military retiree, officials say

South Korean police shot an American military retiree near his home outside Osan Air Base, shattering his jaw in what officers said was an accident involving a “fierce dog.”


US, South Korea fail to seal defense cost-sharing deal, officials say

The United States and South Korea failed to reach a defense cost-sharing deal this week but will keep trying, officials said after thousands of South Korean employees at U.S. military bases went on unpaid leave because funds ran out.


‘We consider them family’: US military furloughs thousands of South Korean employees in blow to alliance

Negotiators have been deadlocked over the United States’ demand that South Korea sharply increase its contribution to offset the costs of stationing some 28,500 service members on the divided peninsula.


American contractor is latest to test positive for coronavirus on Camp Humphreys

The contractor was the fifth confirmed infection on Camp Humphreys in just over a week, and the 14th overall for U.S. Forces Korea, prompting the Army garrison to extend a partial lockdown for an indefinite period.


Foul play ‘not completely ruled out’ in deaths of two US soldiers in South Korea

Pfc. Marissa Jo Gloria and Spc. Clay Welch died in their barracks rooms on Camp Humphreys over two consecutive days earlier this month.


US-South Korea close to deal, negotiator says, on eve of USFK furloughs

U.S. Forces Korea was able to keep about 4,500 South Korean employees determined to be essential. But the others will be furloughed beginning Wednesday


North Korea test-fires rocket launchers, then lashes out at Pompeo

North Korea warned it has lost interest in nuclear talks with the United States on Monday, a day after the communist state test-fired what it called “super-large” multiple rocket launchers.


Already on partial lockdown, Camp Humphreys hit with fifth coronavirus case

Another American contractor working at Camp Humphreys tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the fifth confirmed case at the largest U.S. base in South Korea, officials said.


North Korea fires two short-range missiles in latest weapons test, South says

The missiles were launched within a 20-second interval from the eastern city of Wonsan and flew more than 140 miles.


Coronavirus threat ‘shifted balance’ in military readiness, top US commander in South Korea says

Gen. Robert Abrams stressed that even with the new cases, the U.S. Forces Korea number of confirmed coronavirus infection remains relatively low considering the community comprises about 58,000 people.


Coronavirus hits US military in South Korea at its core with three new cases at Camp Humphreys

New infections, including two reported Friday, brought the total number of cases affiliated with U.S. Forces Korea to 12, raising concern about complacency as the overall number of infections in South Korea has slowed.


US military issues final furlough notices to nearly half its South Korean workforce, union says

The U.S. military will put nearly half its South Korean workforce on unpaid leave starting next week after the two countries failed to reach a new defense cost-sharing deal, the local union said Wednesday as final furlough notices went out.


South Korea says Trump asked for coronavirus testing kits, offers to send what it can

South Korea’s president said Donald Trump asked South Korea for help with coronavirus testing kits and other equipment, and officials offered to send what they could as the United States struggles to cope with the pandemic.


American soldier found dead in South Korea, the second in two days

Spc. Clay Welch, 20, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., was found unresponsive in his barracks at Camp Humphreys on Sunday and pronounced dead at the scene, according to Army officials.


American soldier found dead in barracks in South Korea; military rules out coronavirus

A combat engineer with the 2nd Infantry Division sustainment brigade was found dead in her barracks at Camp Humphreys, the military said Tuesday.


US military contractor infected with coronavirus in South Korea in 10th USFK case, prompting new restrictions

The contractor last visited Camp Humphreys on Friday and is in isolation at his off-base residence as directed by the Korea Centers for Disease Control.


Day after missile test, North says Trump sent letter offering coronavirus aid

President Donald Trump explained his plan to improve relations between the two countries, Kim Yo Jong said, without elaborating, in a statement on the state-run Korean Central News Agency.


North Korea test-fires missiles into sea off eastern coast, Seoul says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also guided an artillery fire competition between large combined army units “on the western front” on Friday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.


US military base schools in South Korea will tentatively reopen April 13 amid coronavirus crisis

The DODEA eight schools on Camp Humphreys, Army Garrison Daegu and Osan Air Base closed and began online classes in late February to avoid close contact for students and staff.


ANALYSIS

US military ramps up coronavirus testing after weeks of relying on South Korea

USFK initially had to outsource patients and coronavirus tests to an overwhelmed South Korean health system. Now the U.S. military is using its own lab at the new hospital on Camp Humphreys, allowing it to ramp up testing.


Camp Humphreys commander warns against complacency amid decline in South Korean coronavirus cases

Pedestrian gates on the largest U.S. military base in South Korea will be closed for entry overnight to prevent people from violating a ban on outside social activities.


US, South Korea seek to break cost-sharing deadlock with furlough imminent

Talks to hammer out a defense cost-sharing agreement will resume this week as thousands of South Korean workers face an imminent furlough.


South Korea, USFK report good news on coronavirus front but warn the threat remains

South Korea’s daily coronavirus count dropped to double digits for the first time since the outbreak began nearly a month ago, officials said Sunday.


Some military moves resume to and from South Korea as exceptions granted

Dozens of service members and loved ones arrived in South Korea, while others boarded a flight out this weekend as the Army granted exceptions to an order halting moves to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.


USFK says Burger King worker is its ninth coronavirus case as South Korean numbers show signs of slowing

U.S. Forces Korea said the woman, who worked at Camp Walker, has isolated herself at her off-base residence in Daegu.


More than 2,400 soldiers, family members ‘in limbo’ after Army halts moves from South Korea, Italy

The sudden decision to halt movement to and from the two countries has sparked major confusion as military officials scrambled to work out the details. The military has struggled to balance the need to protect its forces from the deadly coronavirus with the need to maintain fighting capabilities.


North Korea leader praises ‘perfect combat readiness’ after long-range artillery drill

The South Korean military said the North fired three projectiles that flew up to 125 miles before splashing into the sea off its eastern coast on Monday. It was the second such test in a week.


South Korean worker linked to US military in Daegu tests positive for coronavirus, lies to get on base

The man, who was a contracted construction worker on Camp Walker, was the eighth confirmed case linked to U.S. Forces Korea, the command said in a press release.


North Korea fires projectiles into the sea for second week in a row

The launches were a fiery reminder that the North still poses a threat as nuclear talks with the United States have been deadlocked for more than a year.


US military halts moves to new assignments for troops in South Korea, Italy over coronavirus fears

Both U.S. allies are in the midst of major outbreaks of the virus, with more than 7,300 confirmed cases in South Korea and nearly 6,000 in Italy.


Analysis

Virus outbreak tests US military readiness in South Korea

The rapidly spreading new coronavirus has put the U.S. military on defense against a new enemy in South Korea as it struggles to keep troops ready to fight the old one.


South Korean worker at Camp Humphreys infected with new coronavirus, raising USFK total to seven

The employee lives in Cheonan, south of the main U.S. military base, Camp Humphreys. That makes her the first USFK-linked patient outside of the southeastern area of Daegu.


Number of US Forces Korea-related coronavirus infections rises to six

After two more U.S. military dependents tested positive for COVID-19, the Army commander in the epicenter of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak pleaded with his community on Thursday to help maintain the “bubble” protecting the garrison.


US military resumes sending soldiers, families to bases in coronavirus-hit area of South Korea

The U.S. military resumed sending newly arrived soldiers and family members to the coronavirus-hit city of Daegu this week despite a State Department warning against travel to the area as the number of infections in South Korea surpassed 5,300.


US military community gets creative in coping with coronavirus fears in South Korea

Camp Humphreys and other U.S. installations across South Korea have sharply curtailed access, temporarily closed schools, banned service members from most nonessential travel and put soldiers to work checking temperatures at entry gates to combat the coronavirus.


South Korean president declares 'war' on coronavirus as number of infections spikes

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he planned to spend $25 billion on fighting the virus, which has been mainly concentrated in a southeastern area that is home to a U.S. military base. He also put all government agencies on 24-hour alert, saying the recent spike in cases marked a “critical phase.”


North Korea fires two ballistic missiles in challenge to US, South amid COVID-19 struggle

North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast on Monday, South Korea’s military said, in a new challenge to Seoul and Washington amid the growing coronavirus crisis.


Wife and baby of US soldier who has coronavirus moved to isolation unit at Camp Humphreys, military says

The soldier's wife is also infected with the virus, the military said Saturday as the total number of confirmed cases in South Korea neared 3,000.


North Korea conducts first military drill of the year days after US, Seoul postpone joint exercises

The drill was aimed at testing the “mobility and the fire power strike ability” of defense units on the front and in the eastern part of the country, the Korean Central News Agency reported.


US military gives South Korean employees one month notice on unpaid leave

The U.S. military gave its South Korean employees a one-month notice that they will be put on unpaid leave if the allies remained deadlocked over a lapsed defense cost-sharing agreement.


US, South Korea delay joint military drills as third person linked to US garrison tests positive for coronavirus

The two countries previously scaled back the drills as part of diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.


Army garrison in South Korea hit by two coronavirus cases prays for infected soldier

The Army garrison in the epicenter of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak issued a prayer “to crush and rip off the head of this Coronavirus” on Wednesday after the first American soldier tested positive for infection.


South Korea-based soldier is first US service member to test positive for coronavirus

The 23-year-old soldier, who is stationed at Camp Carroll, is the first U.S. service member to be confirmed with the infection, although a widowed dependent also was reported to be infected earlier this week.


US base in coronavirus-hit city publishes whereabouts of military widow who tested positive

The locations were published to enable other residents to check if they had any reason to be worried, as officials said Tuesday that more than 50 people in apartment complex had been quarantined.


USFK dependent tests positive for coronavirus, putting military on high alert in South Korea

The widow of a retired soldier who recently visited stores on a southeastern base tested positive for the new coronavirus in the first confirmed case for the Army in South Korea, officials said.


Furlough of South Korean workers would have ‘negative impact’ on military operations and readiness, USFK commander says

A threatened furlough of South Koreans who work for the U.S. military would have “a negative impact on military operations and readiness,” Gen. Robert Abrams said Monday, as the U.S. raised pressure on Seoul to agree to a new defense cost-sharing deal.


US soldiers fighting to keep virus from base at ground zero of South Korean crisis

Soldiers have been banned from nonessential off-post travel to and from the base, and civilians have been encouraged to do the same. Entry restrictions have been tightened to forbid most visitors.


South Korea reports first virus death as Daegu struggles to contain outbreak

The city of Daegu, which is home to a U.S. Army garrison, urged residents to stay home as the city of 2.5 million people and surrounding areas struggled to contain an outbreak of the pneumonia-like disease.


Anger over treatment of fellow North Korean defectors spurred ex-official to run for office in South

Frustration over South Korea’s treatment of fellow defectors and other policies toward North Korea prompted one of the most senior officials to flee the communist state to run for parliament in his new homeland.


Daegu Army base restricts access, imposes self-quarantine after South Korean church linked to coronavirus

The top U.S. commander in South Korea elevated the virus risk level for the military community there to moderate. Schools on U.S. Army Garrison Daegu and several other activities were to be closed on Thursday. The garrison also warned people to expect delays at the gates due to a health screening questionnaire.


Black market cases at Camp Humphreys not linked to lifting of spending limits, commander says

New details about the unauthorized use of commissary and exchange purchases — including a second case that was not previously reported — revealed the challenges of policing duty-free purchases by American service members, family members and authorized civilians.


New rotational brigade begins transition to South Korea with equipment arrival

The Fort Riley, Kansas-based 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, known as the Dagger Brigade, will be the eighth rotational brigade to serve in South Korea since the system began in 2015.


Coronavirus concerns prompt South Korea to send fewer troops to Thailand for Cobra Gold drills

South Korea tentatively plans to sharply reduce the number of troops sent to Thailand for Asia’s largest multinational military exercise due to fears about the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, its navy said Wednesday.


As furlough looms, South Koreans working for US military fear for their futures

About 9,000 South Korean employees received notice late last month that they may be forced to take unpaid leave beginning on April 1 if the United States and South Korea fail to agree on a new defense cost-sharing agreement.


Pacific Fleet, US military in South Korea impose 14-day isolation for troops returning from China

No USFK personnel in South Korea have recently been to Wuhan, where the virus originated, or the surrounding Hubei province, officials said.


USFK warns South Korean employees will be furloughed in April if no cost-sharing deal reached

The 60-day notice being sent to nearly 9,000 employees upped the ante as the allies remain deadlocked over U.S. demands for a sharp increase in South Korea’s contribution nearly a month after the previous contract known as the Special Measures Agreement expired.


US military reimposes commissary spending limits in South Korea

The new policy, effective as of Jan. 23, means that commissary shoppers will again be limited to $800 for the main sponsor and $300 for additional family members per month.


South Korean man with coronavirus is from Pyeongtaek, US military says, urging caution

A man from a city close to Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base is one of four South Koreans with coronavirus, according to U.S. Forces Korea.


US military warns of service delays, possible furloughs at South Korea base amid cost-sharing deadlock

Nearly a month after the expiration of the previous Special Measures Agreement, under which South Korea shares the costs of stationing some 28,500 U.S. forces in the country, the garrison told residents to brace for delays to services.


South Korean military to discharge transgender soldier in test case

The case was widely seen as a test for policies toward LGBT troops in South Korea, a socially conservative country that requires most able-bodied men to serve nearly two years in the military.


South Korea to send destroyer to Strait of Hormuz amid tensions between US, Iran

Seoul faced a dilemma in trying to balance a need to support its decades-old ally the United States and avoid alienating Iran, one of the few countries to have diplomatic relations with both North and South Korea.


Hairy situation: US ambassador to South Korea faces criticism over his mustache

Some South Koreans associate Ambassador Harry Harris’ mustache with Japanese colonial rule of the peninsula.


US ambassador warns time is running out for defense cost-sharing deal with South Korea

The issue of defense cost-sharing has taken on urgency as the current contract expired at the end of the year, leaving the U.S. military operating with residual funds from the South Koreans.


US, South Korea resume defense cost-sharing talks after end-of-year deadline expired

U.S. and South Korea resumed defense cost-sharing talks this week after the State Department signaled it was lowering its demand in a bid to reach a retroactive agreement after the current contract expired at the end of the year.


2020 VISION

New decade brings new tensions after collapse of US-North Korea nuclear talks

The previous decade ended with real fears that North Korea might test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, dashing hopes for peace and provoking a new cycle of “fire and fury.” That didn’t happen.


Alabama couple struggles to retrieve adult son’s body from South Korean hospital

After the death of Gregory Allen, a civilian employee at the Child Development Center on the Army’s Yongsan Garrison, his parents were locked in a web of bureaucracy.


South Korea reportedly moves Patriot missile defense battery to Seoul

South Korea has moved a Patriot anti-missile battery to the center of Seoul in a bid to beef up its defense against the growing threat from the North, a local news agency reported Tuesday.


US military retiree banned from bases in South Korea due to black-market allegations

The man's ban came nearly four months after U.S. Forces Korea, the main command on the peninsula, lifted monthly commissary purchase limits and eased other shopping restrictions intended to prevent such infractions.


US urges restraint from North Korea but says military is ready if needed

“We think the best path forward, with regard to North Korea, is a political agreement that denuclearizes the peninsula,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday.


US should respond to North Korean threat by resuming full-scale military drills with Seoul, Bolton says

Former national security adviser John Bolton raised concerns that the suspension of major joint drills may have affected the readiness of American troops stationed on the divided peninsula.


North Korean leader calls for ‘offensive’ countermeasures as US misses New Year’s deadline

The stage was set for an increase in tensions as the U.S. missed North Korea’s end-of-year deadline to break the deadlock in nuclear talks on Tuesday amid fears the communist state plans to resume long-range missile tests.


Army mortuary affairs specialist found dead at Camp Humphreys in South Korea

Staff Sgt. Deontae D. Allen, 27, of Kansas City, Mo., was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene on Camp Humphreys by emergency medical personnel on Sunday, according to a press release.


Most South Koreans support alliance with US but not sharp increase in cost-sharing, poll shows

The United States and South Korea began a fourth round of defense cost-sharing talks on Tuesday, two weeks before the current contract is due to expire.


Final decision: US military permanently ends curfew for troops in South Korea

Gen. Robert Abrams permanently ended the hugely unpopular 1-to-5 a.m. curfew for U.S. service members in South Korea on Tuesday after a six-month suspension proved successful.