Military bases and peace on the Korean peninsula
Oh Hye Ran
Translated by Agatha Haun and Choi De Song
1945, at the time of liberation, the
These were the external conditions which prevented the establishment of a united country on the Korean peninsula.
US-Soviet Cold War brought about the north-south division of
The Korean War came to an end with the conclusion of a cease-fire in 1953, but even so, no peace agreement was signed.
Today¡¦s workshop is all the more significant, because it is the 56th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
the process of cease-fire negotiations among
just prior to the conclusion of the cease-fire negotiations, the
More than 60 years have passed since that time.
US Forces in
example, in 2002, north of
According to the provisions of the SOFA, military personnel who commit such offenses in the process of carrying out their official duties may not be punished.
At that time, tens of thousands of people joined in demonstrations to protest against this situation.
An investigation was made into the case of the girls¡¦ death and as a consequence of this case, some provisions of the SOFA were revised.
demanded that President Bush officially apologize for the crimes committed by
bases that were formerly used by the Japanese during the colonial period were
enlarged and rebuilt by the
In this way the amount of land occupied by about 90 US military installations that existed in 2004 had grown to about 18 million square meters.
present there are 31,000
However, the whole phenomenon of the USFK and their bases is still veiled in mystery to a great extent: the total actual area at the disposal of the US forces, including that represented by training grounds ¡V which are estimated to take up many more millions of square meters, the bases¡¦ function and role, the troop numbers, equipment, and armaments that are stationed here. According to plans to relocate and reorganize US forces that are stationed overseas, the USFK bases are also being relocated.
The core of this plan, to reorganize and consolidate the US military bases that are presently scattered around the country, shifting them to the area in and around Pyeongtaek and the Daegu / Busan area, is the relocation of the 2nd Infantry Division, now stationed north of Seoul, and the 8th Army headquarters, now stationed at the Yongsan garrison in Seoul.
Moreover, the relocation plan is being pushed forward together with the transformation of the USFK, the strengthening of the ROK¡¦s military capability, strategic flexibility for the USFK, and the reorganization of the ROK-US military alliance.
In January 2006, at a meeting of the ROK and US foreign ministers, a joint statement was issued, referring to the authorization of strategic flexibility for the USFK and the reorganization of the ROK-US alliance.
The Korean and US authorities also concluded an agreement concerning the realignment of USFK bases through the terms of the Land Partnership Plan (LPP), the October 2004 Yongsan agreement, and the LPP revised agreement.
secret research study on the ROK-US alliance, in which ROK and
The schemes to increase military strength are being advanced: by 2008, the augmenting of USFK military strength will have cost $11 billion, and by 2020, 625 trillion won will have been invested in building up the ROK¡¦s military capacity.
As the USFK¡¦s role is being transformed, the ROK-US alliance¡¦s military command structure is also being explored.
The objective of the USFK realignment and the reorganization of the ROK-US alliance is to extend the range of the USFK¡¦s operations to the entire Asia-Pacific region, and the Korean armed forces are being mobilized for this.
Pyeongtaek is located
about 70 kilometers southwest of the capital,
all, there are five military installations located at Pyeongtaek
There have been military bases here since 1941, when the Japanese navy¡¦s 302nd detachment forced the residents out and constructed an air field.
The US Air Force came here in 1951 during the Korean War and quickly enlarged the air field, using heavy construction equipment.
ordered the residents of the old
The residents were not compensated in any way; their fields were seized by force and they were simply expelled.
In 1996 the US 6th Army no. 3 zone support command headquarters was reorganized; about 4000 people are stationed there, among them 3100 military personnel, including an Apache combat helicopter unit, an armored regiment, a chemical weapons company, and a reconnaissance unit which gathers intelligence about North Korea.
base is responsible for support services for USFK supply, maintenance, and
repair operations, the storage of all conventional weapons within
The presence of the bases causes several kinds of serious damage.
For example, it influences the value of houses in the vicinity of the base which are affected by the noise and vibrations of the helicopters, and oil spills cause severe environmental pollution.
The US military who are working on the transformation of the USFK are spending about $10 million on reorganizing the 8th Army Corps¡¦ headquarters structure and the future structure of the 2nd Infantry Division, supplying them with equipment that can be used for precision strikes and long-distance military operations.
The 2nd Infantry Division, transformed into the 2-UE-x, has been reduced in troop numbers, but its combat capability has been very much enhanced.
transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division is the first example of
the reorganization of a ¡§future-type division¡¨ in the
the transformed Yongsan garrison / 8th
Army headquarters and the 2UE-x relocate to
this purpose, the
the plan is completed, this will be the largest
Osan Air Base
(K-55), near to
A total of 6000 people are stationed at K-55, including more than 5200 personnel in units such as the US 7th Air Force, the 51st combat aircraft corps, a Patriot missile unit, a U-2 airplane reconnaissance unit which conducts surveillance of North Korea, etc.
Water and noise pollution are serious problems in the vicinity of the base.
Airplane fuel flows into watercourses close to the base and the noise caused by aircraft disturbs the local residents.
A group of 4000~5000 residents of nearby villages are in the process of suing for compensation for the damages suffered.
The base houses 70 F-16 fighter-bombers belonging to the 7th Air Force, 20 A-10 anti-tank planes, and 3 U-2 reconnaissance planes, and has the capacity to support all-weather attack and aerial support operations.
The 3 U-2 reconnaissance planes take turns making one flight per day on sorties close to the cease-fire line at altitudes of 20 km, lasting 7~8 hours.
The surveillance takes in North Korean military movements and everything as far as 60-70 km north of the demilitarized zone, providing information on military facilities and headquarters around Pyeongyang, etc.
As needed, the Osan base will have the role of supporting the conduct of military operations of 1600 of the most modern types of aircraft that soon will be deployed in the continental US, Hawaii, Guam, Japan, and similar places.
On the Osan base, the Theater of Operations Air Force Control Center (TACC) is able to carry out countermeasures against all airborne objects including unidentified flying objects throughout North and South Korea, and of course, northeast China, and Russia¡¦s far eastern region.
The Central Air Defense Control Center (MCRC) operations can at a glance identify any airplane movements in the skies above the Korean peninsula, and dispatch an airplane to intercept other aircraft on command.
in 2004, the
Pyeongtaek area, with its harbor and airport, not
only facilitates the projection of the USFK to other countries; it is also a
location favorable for the dispatch of overseas
3. The ROK-US alliance reorganization and the USFK realignment problem
post-2001 September 11 altered US military strategy views
the purpose of defending against the North Korean threat, the ROK-US alliance
is also undergoing reorganization into an alliance to contain
However, this kind of US military strategy will draw South Korea and Japan deep into the US¡¦s orbit and will function as a force which prevents the possibility of ending the Cold War, implementing the 6-15 joint declaration, changing North-South relations, bringing about peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula, and peace and coexistence in Northeast Asia.
all, the reorganization of the ROK-US alliance and the USFK realignment
reinforces military pressure on
the USFK transfer to Pyeongtaek comes about, the
kind of realignment increases the
if there is a full-scale preemptive strike, damage to the
it blocks the possibility of an attack on US military forces positioned on the
front line in retaliation for precision bombing of
In the future, the reorganized ROK-US alliance will increase the US armed forces¡¦ capacity to intervene in China and the Asia-Pacific region and will accelerate the arms race and aggravate military confrontation between the US and Asia.
USFK and the ROK¡¦s military capability, together with
the ongoing ROK-US alliance reorganization, is
amassing the largest concentration of military forces and arms in the world.
Military confrontation will intensify the never-ending arms race and military
antagonism in a radicalized
order to counter the strengthening of the US-Japan alliance,
Local residents¡¦ protest against the expansion of the
the area of Doduri and Daechuri
near Pyeongtaek, in the area designated as the
local citizens, who have been evicted twice due to the military base, organized
themselves in July 2003 and have been holding candlelight vigils every day
expanding the base¡¨.
locals have undertaken various actions in an effort to persuade the National Assembly
not to permit the land seizure, resisting the government¡¦s land purchasing by
force, organizing a caravan of tractors around the country, and returning their
residents¡¦ cards. They are well aware of the significance of their resistance,
which lies in preventing the expansion of the USFK¡¦s
role and the restructuring of the ROK-US alliance. Their campaign also aims not
only to protect
In February 2005, a nationwide organization was formed to oppose the enlargement of the Pyeongtaek base. The organization, known as the Pan-South Korea Solution Committee Against US Base Extension in Pyeongtaek includes around 140 civic groups from the peace, environmental, human rights, and anti-US base movements, as well as religious institutions.
They organized two peace marches in which approximately 10,000 people participated, in addition to three nationwide rallies. On 4-5 May 2006, the local citizens, supported by hundreds of peace activists, clashed with the Korean military forces, the police, and civilian security personnel, who set up barbed wire fences around the two villages. About 600 peace activists were arrested and around 20 of them were in jailed. More than 250 were injured. Villagers and peace activists continue their protest activities against the extension of the base by setting up tents or living in abandoned houses.
Supporters from outside the two villages donate money to help the local citizens continue with their farming. Artists have displayed their work on the Pyeongtaek theme, ranging from poems to paintings and sculpture in every corner of the villages, sending messages against the base expansion. Most Koreans are supporting the local citizens¡¦ struggle.
that the base expansion project be cancelled, the local citizens and the
Pan-national Committee are urging the government to renegotiate with the
the negotiations about the relocation of the American forces, the
The National Assembly approved the agreement on expansion of the base in Pyeongtaek without revealing to the public that it is in line with the realignment of the USFK¡¦s role and the policy of strategic flexibility.
importantly, the expansion of the Pyeongtaek base, as
part of the USFK¡¦s strategic flexibility, must not
utilized for pre-emptive attacks on
5. SPARK¡¦s proposal for peace and unification on the Korean peninsula
(1) Abolition of the Korea-US Mutual Defense Treaty and dissolution of the ROK-US alliance
peace activists, Korean and US government officials
and military experts believe that the South Korean armed forces are superior to
that peacekeeping efforts on the Korean peninsula have been successful to a
certain degree, the ROK-US alliance should be dissolved and the ROK-US Mutual Defense
Treaty should also be revoked, since they reflect Cold-War-era tensions and aim
to deter an attack from the North, to trigger the collapse the Pyeongyang regime, and to occupy the
The ROK-US Mutual
Defense Treaty and the documents attached to it (the text of minutes and
memoranda) constitute an unequal treaty infringing upon the national
sovereignty of the
treaty allows the
SPARK members, like the majority of Koreans, believe that this kind of anachronistic ROK-US alliance should be terminated, by revoking the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty, in order to allow for the establishment of mutually beneficial ROK-US relations.
(2) Peace treaty and armament reductions on the Korean peninsula
issue of the peace treaty, which was raised when the armistice came into effect
in 1953, is not yet been resolved; no peace treaty has been signed. In 1954, the
a number of years, a joint statement was issued in
believes that peace in
Korean people can achieve peaceful reunification on their own if the