South Korean officials said on the 11th that South Korea and the United States reached an agreement on the same day on the return of 12 military bases to South Korea, six of which were located in the capital Seoul.
So far, 12 of South Korea’s 80 U.S. military bases are still to be recovered by South Korea. However, the newly returned base still has pollution problems such as heavy metals exceeding standards, which triggered protests from South Korean people.
According to Yonhap News Agency, officials of the South Korean presidential palace Qingwatai said at a press conference on the 11th that South Korea and the United States held an online meeting of the Joint Committee of the Status Agreement on the U.S. Military in South Korea on the same day and reached an agreement on the return of 12 bases to South Korea by the United States.
According to the agreement, the newly reclaimed bases of the South Korean side are located in Longshan District and Central District of Seoul City, as well as Gyeonggi Province, Daegu City, North Gyeongsang Province and Gangwon Province, respectively, with a total area of 1.465 million square meters.
Yonhap, this is the first time that South Korea has recovered part of the Longshan U.S. military base since the South Korea and the United States began the return of the U.S. military base in South Korea in 2002. South Korean officials said that the land will be used to build parks and public rental housing projects.
However, the two sides did not negotiate the clean treatment cost after recovering the base. South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said that 11 of the 12 newly recovered bases exceeded the standard of heavy metals and oil pollutants.
The two sides tentatively agreed that the South Korean side should bear the governance costs first, and then negotiate the cost sharing issue later. Yonhap reported that the governance cost is not a small amount of money.
South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said that the clean-up cost of the three bases recovered last year was 98 billion won, or about 100 million USD. South Korea has been asking the United States to share part of the cleaning costs, but the United States insists that the United States will only pay if pollution poses a so-called “substantial and imminent” health risk.
The pollution problem of U.S. military bases in South Korea has also aroused strong dissatisfaction among the South Korean people. Some people held a protest at the gate of the South Korean Ministry of Defense on the 11th.