Local governments along the western stretch of the inter-Korean border, which have U.S. military bases in their jurisdictions, are showing keen interest in the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit as its outcome will have a significant influence on their prolonged relocation.
In 2004, South Korea and the United States agreed to move the bases from northern Gyeonggi Province, near the inter-Korean border, to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, some 70 km south of Seoul, by 2008. But the transition has been put off several times, and now, U.S. Forces Korea reportedly regards 2020 as the deadline.
|Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province (Yonhap)|
At present, the province has seven unreturned bases -- three in Uijeongbu (Camp Red Cloud, Camp Stanley and Camp Jackson) and four in Dongducheon (Camp Casey, Camp Hovey, Camp Mobile and Camp North Castle).
Troops at Camp Jackson are known to have moved to Pyeongtaek early this month, and Camp Hovey is scheduled to be closed next month. Camp Red Cloud reportedly plans to move within the year.
But relocation times for the others remain uncertain.
The bases will be returned to South Korea’s defense ministry when they are closed, and the ministry, in consultation with the local governments, will sell off the bases‘ land for regional development.
The cities expect the return to pick up pace if the North Korea-U.S. summit talks end in success. (Yonhap)