Conditions of USFK Grant Lands
are approximately 100 US bases (including training fields
and other military facilities) occupying 60,447 acres
in ROK. According to the Base Structure Report, released
in July 2004 by the US Department of Defense, there
are a total of 108 US bases (and facilities), consisting
of 83 USFK Army bases, 6 naval bases, and 19 air bases.
These are based on statistics from September 2003.
to the ROK Ministry of National Defense 2004 Defense
White Paper, 33,000 USFK troops are stationed in the
ROK. However, through the FOTA agreement, 5,000 troops
were withdrawn in 2004, and an additional 3,000
troops will be reduced in 2005.
arrived on the Peninsula in 1945 when the Korean Peninsula
was liberated from Japanese colonialism. Except for
a few military advisory groups, US forces had withdrawn
from the Peninsula by 1949. But when the Korean War
broke out in 1950, US military forces were dispatched
to the Peninsula. Based upon the Korean-US Mutual Defense
Agreement, since the end of the war in 1953, US forces
had been stationed in ROK. However, SOFA (Status of
Forces Agreement - Agreement under Article 4 of the
Mutual Defense Treaty between the Republic of Korea
and the United States of America, Regarding Facilities
and Areas and the States of United Armed Forces in the
Republic of Korea) was entered into force since 1966.
The SOFA stipulates the provisions for military facilities
and areas, and its management for USFK. Until then,
there was no basis to administer the land occupied by
the US military for 13 years. Since then, the ROK government
has accepted the use of land by USFK successively. However,
the ROK excluded the procedure for land expropriation
or lease contracts. Thus the conflict with land owners
has become more aggravated.
grant lands are provided for free as stipulated in SOFA.
USFK land holding is also indefinite as outlined in
the 1953 US-ROK Mutual Defense Agreement. Recently,
public criticism has increased over strategic flexibility
as the role of USFK transforms from its previous defensive
role on the Korean Peninsula to a more offensive task
force, The South Korean government has no obligation
to provide any facilities or areas - strategic flexibility
steps over the boundaries of the US-ROK Mutual Defense
Agreement. For instance, last August, about 3,600 troops
were dispatched to Iraq. They were trained at a US base
in Dongducheon. But since these troops were used as
part of an unjustifiable war, rather than the defense
of the Peninsula, this dispatch violated the Mutual
February 2000, the ROK government and USFK officials
began discussing the LPP(Land Partnership Plan) to return
unnecessary parts of the grant land, and to consolidate,
realign, or close down existing bases on the Peninsula.
However, the process not only includes returning land,
but also grants additional land space from Pyeongtaek,
Euijeongbu, Ichon, and Pohang to USFK. Thus the LPP
has faced increasing resistance from local residents.
the ROK and the US have discussed sensitive issues such
as the relocation of the Second Infantry Division and
Yongsan Garrison to the southern part of the Han River.
Other issues discussed include the reduction of USFK
forces, the transfer of ten operational tasks previously
conducted by USFK to ROK forces, and the expanded military
role of USFK. Negotiations concluded in 2004 according
to U.S. plans. The plan was then approved by the ROK
Military Transformation and USFK Base Realignment
- Realignment of
USFK Under Military Transformation
According to US troop
redeployment plans in Northeast Asia, the Second Infantry
Division will transform into a "Unit of Action"
(UA) with it divisional headquarters reorganized and
modernized. This implies a complete restructuring of
USFK. This transformation is part of the Bush Administration's
New Military Strategy. The plan includes the complete
transformation of USFK and the redeployment of US forces
abroad. ¡®Strategic flexibility¡¯ will build up advanced
military capabilities to enhance USFK fighting power.
Meanwhile, USFK troops will be rapidly redeployed around
the globe. USFK realignment will also shift the Second
Infantry Division to the Pyeongtaek area, where a military
harbor and an air base currently exist.
- Build-Up of Air
and Naval Forces
Several cases of military
base build-up are taking place on the Peninsula, particularly
in the western region: Military build-up is taking place
at Suwon, Pyeongtaek, Gunsan, and Gwangju air bases.
The build-up enhances the accessibility of forces and
munitions through the Pyeongtaek harbor. The plan also
reverts the reclaimed land of Saemangum into USFK grant
lands. These changes suggest that USFK's role has expanded
to contain the so-called potential "China threat"
in the near future.
exist regarding the expansion of South Korea's military
role under US military transformation. The US urges
the ROK to increase the number of training facilities
for joint use. The ROK announced that it will build
naval harbors in Hwasoon and Jeju Island, and a missile
unit in Moonhaksan and Incheon. These projects are in
conjunction with USFK transformation.
- Pyeongtaek Base
USFK redeployment is
centered around the relocation of the Second Infantry
Division and Yongsan Base south of the Han River to
Pyeongtaek. As the Second Infantry Division relocated
from the front line to rear positions, front-line duty
has been transferred to the ROK military. That is, the
USFK transferred to South Korea its mission of defending
the Peninsula against a North Korean attack. Instead,
USFK will be used more broadly to stabilize the Asia-Pacific
region. This includes not only North Korea, but China
The transfer to Pyeongtaek,
and away from North Korean artillery range, is a result
of USFK's expanded role. Pyeongtaek is equipped with
a harbor and an airport. This allows flexibility when
deploying troops outside of the Peninsula, and minimizes
risk in an offensive first strike against North Korea.
Also, Pyeongtaek is strategically located to contain
or attack China, which has been identified as a potential
threat to the US.
However, military transformation
will heighten tensions against DPRK and China, increasing
the likelihood of conflict even without any provocation
from South Korea. USFK base consolidation and
realignment to Pyeongtaek presents frightening consequences.
In short, it threatens peace on the Korean peninsula.
Infringement Against Pyeongtaek Residents and Their
Right for Survival
to base enlargement plans, about 523 acres in the Seotan
area of Pyeongtaek (near the air base) and 2,328 acres
in the Paengseong area (near the army base), will be
handed over to the US. There are 535 households totalling
1,372 residents in the planned areas. It should be noted
that in South Korea, Pyeongtaek is famous for its rice.
land in Pyeongtaek was reclaimed and cultivated by the
residents of Paengseong themselves. Hence they truly
believe the land is their life. This is why we must
reconsider whether the new bases are worth destroying
the homes and lands of Pyeongtaek residents. Is it worth
violating resident rights and the destruction of an
entire community? In addition to base enlargement, we
must also carefully assess the base return plan, which
will be implemented in other areas of the Peninsula.
2002 when Pyeongtaek was selected as the new relocation
site by the LPP, the residents began their struggle
to protect their land from US forces. Additionally,
after the FOTA meeting which concluded with the decision
to relocate Yongsan and the Second Infantry Division
to Pyeongtaek, the protest expanded to an all out struggle
to save the community. Even as they struggle hard against
a great power, their lives have been devastated. Several
residents have died during four months of struggle in
Daechuri. Many other residents have resorted to alcohol,
drowning in their grief.
Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Special Commission
of USFK Affairs are proceeding shamelessly against resident
objections. Recently, unidentified rumors and fabrications
were disseminated. This resulted in backbiting amongst
civic activists and staff residents of the Resident
Commission against US Base Enlargement in Pyeongtaek.
MND sometimes tempted residents by giving more incentives
if they agreed to give up their land, and also coerced
residents to comply with USFK plans. It is a great irony
that the individual heading the land purchase management
in the MND is a native of Pyeongtaek. Likewise, the local
police detective is a long time resident of Pyeongtaek.
This just shows how money and power have devastated
one village. We are certain that the reason why the
Ministry and the Commission are inciting residents is
because they are intent on destroying the community.
They want to break down the unity of residents, wear
them out, and force them to give up their fight.