ROK and US authorities have released a joint statement stating that they are working together to return about a quarter of the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul currently being used by USFK by early next year. As the return period for the Yongsan Base is getting closer and closer, the discussion about who and how much will bear the cost of environmental pollution treatment at the return base is not speeding up.
Kwak Sang-eun is a reporter.
The key point of the joint statement issued by the ROK and the US under the name of the SOFA Joint Chairperson is to return about 500,000 square meters of the Yongsan base occupied by the US military to South Korea by early next year.
It is equivalent to a quarter of the entire Yongsan base, and is the size of about 70 soccer fields combined.
The ROK and the US agreed on a broad agreement to return the Yongsan Base, but so far only about 2.6% of the total area has been returned.
The government expects that this agreement will further materialize the Yongsan Park development project that the government is pursuing.
The ROK and the US also agreed that it would be in the interests of both countries to completely relocate the facilities still remaining in Yongsan, including the Combined Forces Command, to the Humphreys Base in Pyeongtaek, and agreed to accelerate the base relocation project.
However, with respect to the cost of environmental pollution treatment at the return base, the two countries have not made much progress this time.
This is because there is no specific guideline in the SOFA regulations, so there is no contact point between South Korea and the US regarding environmental pollution analysis methods and responsibilities.
An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We will be patient and continue to consult with the United States based on scientific evidence."