Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2003 International Symposium


Ko You Kyoung

U.S Troops in the Republic of Korea


National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes

It is already one and a half years since a U.S. armored vehicle ran over and killed two junior high school girls in 2002. One week before the deaths of the two girls, Mr. Jeon Deongrok had passed away, after a year long suffering from the injury he sustained by touching the high-voltage cable installed by the U.S. forces. Even after the tragic death of these three victims, the U.S. military bases continue to inflict damage and suffering on our people under the unequal ROK-U.S. relationship.

In the name of the Land Partnership Plan (LPP) and the Consultation Meeting on the Future ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiative, an extensive reorganization of U.S. troops stationed in Korea is now underway.

Another aspect of the reality is that candle demonstrations continuing for more than a year as well as the peopleユs matured awareness of their sovereignty have prevented the U.S. military from implementing its plan as easily as it did in the past.

1. Recent Cases and Accidents Caused by the U.S. Military Personnel

The past year saw many cases involving U.S. troops. Even after the New Year, U.S. military presence remains a hot issue in our society. There is a case that originated as far back as 40 years ago and the most recent case occurred two months ago.

1) Fatal Hit and Run Accident by a Drunken U.S. Soldier in Osan
In November 2003, a drunken U.S. soldier driving a car ran into another car, killing one Korean and injuring four others. 1)
When the accident happened, the U.S. soldier, instead of taking the injured to hospital, fled into the U.S. military base. Fortunately, he was caught by the U.S. military police, but he was not handed over to the Korean police, because of the Korea-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement 2) . In fact it provides that an offender belonging to the U.S. military cannot be extradited immediately unless he/she is caught in flagrante delicto by the South Korean police. 3)  In addition, the U.S. military authorities did not put him in jail but took a very moderate measure of restricting him from getting outside the base. The soldier could move around freely as long as he stayed inside the base. Normally, in the cases involving U.S. soldiers, the Korean authorities cannot hold the accused in custody until the court of third instance gives its definitive decision. However, under the present SOFA, revised in 2001, the case in question fell within the categories of 12 major crimes. This allowed the Korean police to hold the criminal in custody when the Korean prosecution has filed formal charges against him. 4)
The accused U.S. soldier was thus placed in the detention center in Seoul on December 30th. This was made possible by the monitoring and strong protests of citizen groups. Another case that fell under the categories of 12 major crimes took place in Pusan on December 7. It was a case of group violence and armed robbery committed by six U.S. soldiers. 5)

2) Unauthorized discharge of toxic chemicals
On January 9, 2004, a trial was held against a U.S. serviceman, Albert McFarland, for discharge of toxic substances.6)
Back in 2000, the Korean Court sentenced McFarland to six-month imprisonment. He had been indicted on the charge of ordering the disposal of 470 bottles of toxic chemical stored at the Yongsan Base mortuary into a sewer without purification facility. The trial was held four years after the incident had taken place. During these four years, McFarland had not been detained in South Korea because the U.S. military authorities insisted that they had the jurisdiction over the case, on the ground that he committed the act while on duty. McFarland therefore did not appear in the courtroom and has not received any punishment till now. At the time when the case was revealed in 2000, the U.S. military authorities officially apologized, acknowledging that what McFarland did was a violation of both Korean and American national laws, as well as of the regulations of U.S. forces stationed in Korea. Despite of this, they refused to let him be tried in Korea. This is evidently an act that completely disregards the South Koreaユs judicial sovereignty.
With a prison sentence given on January 9, McFarland was supposed to go to jail in South Korea unless he filed an appeal within seven days. The U.S. military authorities said that they would not appeal, on the ground that Korea did not have the jurisdiction over the case, but McFarlandユs lawyer lodge an appeal in Korean Court on January 15. The lawyer will try to prove that the South Korea does not have the jurisdiction over the case. However, as lodging an appeal means they actually accept the trial, the appeal is criticized as an act aimed at avoiding the imprisonment of McFarland in South Korean.

3) Extension of the Story Shooting Range in Paju
On January 2, 2004, the U.S. military started the works to extend the Story Shooting Range situated within the civilian control zone in Paju City, Gyeonggi-do (spreading between 5 and 20 kilometers from the southern border of the demilitarized zone). This provoked a strong reaction of the residents and city authorities of Paju. The Story Shooting Range was granted to the U.S. military in 1973 for its exclusive use and has been actually used till today. The range has an area of about 712,800m2 and most of the land it occupies is privately owned, but the Ministry of National Defense of South Korea granted the land to the U.S. troops without any consultation with its owners. It was only in 1996 that the residents learned that their own property had been granted to the U.S. military. They found out the fact incidentally, when they were consulting with the Korean armed forces about the construction of a settlement village within the civilian control zone. They were not allowed to use their land for any purposes until the U.S. military returned them the land. Eventually, the farmers had to sell their farming land at a low price to the National Defense Ministry and thus lost their farming land. Those who chose to lease the land for farming had the land-lease contracts suspended because of the extension works now underway, which fact poses a great threat to their livelihoods. The National Defense Ministry of South Korea and the U.S. military authorities used the land for shooting drills for forty years, while keeping secret the granting of the private property. In addition, they are driving the farmers from their land without providing them due compensation.
Located in the middle of the civilian control zone, the Story Shooting Range is destroying the wildlife and natural ecosystem in that area. In addition, there is a water supply facility managed by the Paju City authorities near the range, and the contamination of drinking water by explosives and heavy metals used in the shooting drills has become a serious problem. Concerned about the water pollution, the Paju City authorities requested the National Defense Ministry to use the reserve of funds for assessing the damage on the environment and for restoration, but the U.S. military ignored the request and pushed ahead with the extension works. The U.S. military authorities say that there is no problem because they had already agreed with the National Defense Ministry on the content of the extension works through the Land Partnership Plan (LPP). However, the ROK-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, revised in 2001, requires that the U.S. military should consult with concerned local governments when building new facilities or extending the existing ones. 7)
The U.S. military authorities are clearly violating the SOFA provisions by going ahead with the extension works before they have gone through the consultations with the Paju City. Their refusal of the environment assessment required by the Korean law also constitutes an unlawful act. Nevertheless, the U.S. military authorities are rushing to expand the shooting range for implementing the LPP and strengthening U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.

2. Land Partnership Plan and Relocation of the U.S. Forces Stationing in South Korea

South Korea is hosting 37,000 U.S. soldiers in about 41 bases, 54 small camps and other supporting bases that occupy an area of 244,200,000 m2 in total. The Land Partnership Plan (LPP) is a plan whose purpose is to close down or integrate the existing bases and training facilities for their more efficient management. Through their formal talks that started in 2001, South Korea and the U.S. agreed on the LPP in March 2002. Ratified by the Korean Parliament in October 2003, the plan has been put into implementation. According to the LPP, the U.S. will return to South Korea an area of 135,762,000m2, including 7,062,000m2 of land occupied by 28 base facilities and installations, as well as 128,700,000m2 of land taken by 6 training areas by the year 2011. But in exchange for this, Korea will grant the U.S. a total area of 1508,200m2 and 9 replacement facilities, in addition to some of the training areas of the Korean armed forces that will be jointly used with the U.S. troops. The implementation of the LPP will cost about 2.5 billion dollars, 45 percent of which should be covered by the Korean side. When the LPP was agreed, the Koreans at first welcomed it, believing that the U.S. would return to Korea the installations and training areas that had become unnecessary. However, the LPP actually consists of reorganizing the U.S. presence in South Korea, now relying on the excessively enlarged land army, into a system mainly supported by air and naval forces, and ultimately strengthening the U.S. military presence in South Korea.
In accordance with the plan for an overall reorganization of its military forces stationed abroad, the U.S. since end 2003 has held talks with the Korean government through the Consultation Meeting on the Future ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiative for a full-scale redeployment of the U.S. forces stationed in South Korea. They have so far met six times and will continue discussing such issues as the relocation of the Yongsan Base, which was left out from the LPP, the military mission changeover program, and the military capability development program. Major General James Soligan, deputy chief of staff of U.S. Forces in Korea, speaking on behalf of the U.S. military authorities, announced a plan of major redeployment of U.S. troops in South Korea, including the transfer of the U.S. Second Infantry Division and the Yongsan Base to the south of the Han River 8). Later, at the second Consultation Meeting on the Future ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiative held in June 2003, South Korea and the U.S. agreed on reorganizing the U.S. military system in Korea into what is called メtwo plus three systemモ. The system will be comprised of two hub bases in Pyeong Taeg and Daegu-Pusan regions, and three auxiliary installations: a joint training center in the north Gyeonggi, the Gunsan Base and the enduring Yongsan Base. However, at the sixth Consultation Meeting on January 17, 2004, they agreed that the Yongsan Base will also be transferred to Pyeong Taeg region.
For strengthening the joint defense capability of its troops in South Korea, the U.S. has decided to invest over the next three years until 2006, 1.1 billion dollars in the improvement of the capabilities of more than 150 units. It has already deployed a new type of Patriot Missile PAC-3 and AH64-D Longbow Apache helicopters on the Korean Peninsula. It further plans to cyclically deploy a Striker brigade combat team in South Korea and last year a Striker team conducted exercise for the first time in the training field in the northern Kyonggi. 10)
The U.S., claiming that it has increased its investments into military buildup, demanded the Ministry of National Defense of South Korea to increase the defense budget. This is a grave interference into domestic affairs.

1) U.S. is unilaterally reorganizing its bases and troops in South Korea with the aim of establishing its military hegemony in North East Asia
According to the LPP, a number of U.S. bases will be relocated and the land they occupy be returned to South Korea. But the U.S. air base in Pyong Taeg will be expanded and a new marine base will be built in Pohan, located on the south-east coast, taking 3000 km2 of land. Reorganizing U.S. military bases in South Korea by reducing the almost unused exercise fields and the laxly managed land army system on one hand, and consolidating the entire U.S. forces in South Korea relying on the air and naval forces on the other hand concretizes the Bush Administrationユs basic idea regarding its military strategy: to reduce the size of armed forces while enhancing their capabilities. Though it is not included in the LPP, the 2nd Infantry Division now stationed north of Gyeonggi is to be moved to the south of the Han River. The hub base in Dong Du Cheon and the exercise ground for U.S. exclusive use, both located north of Gyeonggi, are to be enhanced. They will be combined and transformed into a common drilling center to be used not only by U.S. forces in Korea, but also by U.S. troops based in Guam, Hawaii and Okinawa.

The current plan for reorganizing the U.S. troops in South Korea represents the Bush Administrationユs idea of assigning them not only the role of regional forces on Korean Peninsula but also the role of mobile troops covering the whole North-East Asia.

An increase in military strength buildup, whether of U.S. military forces within South Korea or between the North and the South will increase the threat of war in a perpetual tinderbox like the Korean Peninsula, the only peninsula that remains divided. The U.S. is obstructing the North-East Asian countries that are trying to put an end to the division and achieve their political, military, and diplomatic integration. The planned strengthening and reorganizing of the U.S. military forces in South Korea will certainly arouse hostile response from North Korea and China, and will allow Japanユs remilitarization.

For a long time the U.S. had been frustrated to keep its troops near the cease-fire line. In the process of recent discussions on the reorganization of U.S. forces in South Korea, the U.S. officials has abandoned the concept of メtrick wireモ that consisted of maintaining the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division deployed along the cease-fire line so that it could automatically intervene in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula. By redeploying its troops to the south of the Han River, away from the shooting range of North Korean field artillery, the U.S. can increase the relative capability to launch a preemptive attack against North Korea. In addition, the extension and reinforcement of the land army and air force bases in Pyeong Taeg close to the Chinese border are in line with the U.S. strategy for China that is to put military pressure on this emerging economic power, which is playing a key role in the recent U.S.-North Korea talks in addition to its diplomatic problem with Taiwan.

The U.S. government and the U.S. military authorities claim that relocation and strengthening of the American forces in South Korea is to メprepare for emergencies.モ Meanwhile, however, the Bush Administration has introduced the concept of preventive war and is proceeding with its global missile defense program and its war against terrorism. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and then started the war on Iraq. While weapons of mass destruction and any other sign of terrorist attack planned on the part of Iraq, which have been used as excuse for going to war by the U.S., innocent citizens and soldiers of different countries have died, including a large number of Iraqi civilians. We cannot but question the U.S. government: for whom is the prevention, for whom are all these war preparations?

Opinion is divided even within the South Korean government about the reorganization of the U.S. forces. Citizensユ groups and the Korean people in general have expressed their opposition to it. Despite of this, the U.S. is implementing its own plan as if it were mutually agreed upon by South Korean and the U.S. Noh Moo Hyun, in his election campaign for ROK Presidency, advocated for the need for South Korea to adopt a position independent from the United States and promised that he would definitely メsay what must be said to the U.S.モ But after coming into office, he has been criticized for being even more humiliating and subservient to the U.S. The ongoing reorganization is a long-term plan looking ahead to several tens of years later, and our government is being helplessly dragged into the Consultation Meeting without being able to develop an effective policy to resist to the U.S. intentions.

We oppose the unilateral implementation of reorganization of the U.S. forces in South Korea and demand that the U.S. start over the consultations with South Korea to reconsider the ongoing LPP, and halt the one-sided relocation of U.S. bases in our country. Before discussing the reorganization, the outdated ROK-U.S Mutual Defense Treaty concluded during the war should be revised, the wartime command and control be returned to South Korea, and the Status of Forces Agreement be put on the table of negotiation to rectify its unfair provisions. If the U.S. intends to use its troops in our country as a mobile unit in North East Asia, fundamental discussion should be done on their status, role and size.

2) U.S. forces destroying peopleユs livelihoods
If the present reorganization is completed as it is, the U.S. troops will be concentrated around Pyeong Taeg. In that event, the U.S. will need much more land. This is why the U.S. is asking for another 1650 km2 for extending the existing base and negotiating with our government for more land for new facilities. People of Dae Choo-ri, Phung Sung eub, Pyeong Taeg, , the small community where the Camp Humphery is located, are shutting themselves up in their houses to oppose the creation and extension of U.S. bases. When the U.S. troops first came to station in this area, the local residents were forced to relocate their houses. Having suffered for decades from noise pollution caused by U.S. aircraft and now facing the threat of another evacuation from their villages because of the base extension, the residents have shut up themselves in their houses and are determined not to move this time. Nobody consulted them when the base was extended. The same can be said of the people of Pyong Taeg and Song Tang, where the U.S. Osan Air Base is located. Residents of the villages near the runway are disturbed by the terrible noise of U.S. planes taking off and landing night and day. There too, the people are facing the threat of being driven out again because of the base extension. There is a village whose residents have been forced to move several times as the base was gradually expanded. As most of them are farmers, they would be deprived of their means of living if they had their land taken.

Fighter jets and bombers stationed at the Pyong Taeg Air Base fly to the Mae Hyang-ri international shooting range to be trained for bombing. The range is also used for bombing drills of U.S. warplanes stationed in Guam, Okinawa, and other countries. The people of Mae Hyang-ri are very upset because the range has been excluded from the LPPユ land return list. In addition, they have not been compensated for their suffering from the noise pollution because the lawsuit on this problem has not been settled. Last December, the people of Mae Hyang-ri staged a protest in front of the Korean Supreme Court and the U.S. embassy.

Also excluded from the list are the Story Shooting Range which has been a focus of attention due to its expansion, and the Dagma-north Tank Training Field, located near the Story Shooting Range. People in Paju and Jang Pa-ri where these facilities are located, suffer the noise and quakes caused by tanks. Their livestock and crops are also damaged. The U.S. also abuses its power to beat down the prices of the peopleユs properties. Outraged by the unbearable noise and quakes produced by tanks, they have organized picketing to block the village roads to stop the convoy of tanks.

As I have explained, the people demanding the return of their lands have been completely left out in the cold from the process of reorganization of U.S. troops in Korea. The U.S. is robbing them of their land for building new military facilities. For more than 50 years, our peopleユs lives have been threatened and sacrificed for the sake of national security. We can no longer sit by and do nothing while peopleユs livelihoods are being sacrificed and human lives destroyed. In our society, the U.S. troops remain an inviolable sanctuary. However, this is changing. Unlike in the past, peopleユs struggle for their rights is developing.

3. Solidarity of Peace Forces Is Called for to Stop the U.S. Unilateral Military Hegemony

From this January, civil society organizations of South Korea have organized demonstrations and held press conferences on the U.S. military-related issues in front of U.S. bases, U.S. Embassy, the Courts where U.S. soldiers who committed crimes are tried, as well as the South Korean National Defense Ministry. On every Thursday evening, we hold a candle demonstration for peace and sovereignty in Gwang Hwa-mum, in the center of Seoul. 12)
In South Korea, the anti-base movement is carried on mainly at local level in different places such as Pyeong Taeg, Eui Jung Boo, Dong Du Cheon, Mae Hyang-ri, Daegu, Pusan, and Seoul, and we always feel a strong need for solidarity. Not only the solidarity at local level but also solidarity at global level is very important.
International solidarity gives a great strength to the Korean anti-base movement. When we were calling for justice for the junior-high schoolgirls who were killed by the U.S. tank, the activists of the Japan Peace Committee helped us to find out a similar case in Japan in which the U.S. gave up its jurisdiction on the crime committed by a U.S. soldier on duty and thus to refute the U.S. demand for their jurisdiction on the girlsユ case. We have learned a great deal from the struggles of people and activists of Okinawa to put an end to U.S. military crimes. This is a source of continued solidarity between Okinawa and South Korean struggles. Though we have had no direct ties of solidarity with peace activists of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, the successes in closing the U.S. naval base in Puerto Rico and in getting the U.S. bases from the Philippines have been a great encouragement to us.
International solidarity is also needed to build a global resistance to the U.S. unilateral violence, a resistance based on joint actions and common vision. Joint actions against the U.S. invasion of Iraq have aroused a keen interest in our society. An international conference for united actions is the starting point for sharing information and creating people-to-people solidarity.
International solidarity must be sustainable and provide a space for allowing people not only to exchange information, but also to meet each other and build confidence so that they can struggle together. Of course, international solidarity is not an easy job. Difficulties exist concerning language, financial problems, visa and time, but it is also possible to solve these problem through solidarity, putting together our ideas and wisdoms. It is my great hope that the wisdom and the strength of all of you who are assembled here will open a way for a peaceful Asia and a peaceful world.

1) On November 28, 2003, at dawn, a U.S. corporal Jetty Scott Onken was driving a car dead drunk in Osan, Gyeonggi-do. He ignored the traffic light and crashed into a car with five Koreans on board. One of them died, and the other four were injured. Immediately after the accident, Corporal Onken abandoned his car and ran away with two U.S. soldiers who were riding with him, without giving first-aid care to the injured Koreans. The Korean police seized the U.S. soldiersユ ID cards and iron helmets as evidences. They asked the U.S. military to cooperate with the investigation and brought the U.S. soldiers to trial. At present, the trial on the offending soldiers is going on.
2) The official name for SOFA is the メ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 Status of United States Armed Forces in the Republic in the Korea and Related Documentsモ. For short, it is called the Agreement on the Status of U.S. Forces in Korea, or the ROK-U.S. SOFA.
3) SOFA Article XXII Paragraph 5 ゥ: The custody of an accused member of the United States armed forces or civilian component, or of a dependent, over whom the Republic of Korea is to exercise jurisdiction shall, if he is in the hands of the military authorities of the United States, remain with the military authorities of the United States pending the conclusion of all judicial proceedings and until custody is requested by the authorities of the Republic of Korea. If he is in the hands of the Republic of Korea, he shall, on request, be handed over to the military authorities of the United States and remain in their custody pending completion of all judicial proceedings and until custody is requested by the authorities of the Republic of Korea.
4) SOFA Article XXII Re Paragraph 5 ゥ 3: The military authorities of the United States shall transfer custody to the Republic of Korea authorities if the offense over which the Republic of Korea has the primary right of jurisdiction and for which the Republic of Korea has requested the transfer of custody at the time of indictment or thereafter falls within the following categories of cases of sufficient gravity to warrant custody and adequate cause and necessity exists for such custody. (a)murder; (b)rape(including quasi-rape and sexual intercourse with a minor under thirteen years of age); (c)kidnapping for ransom; (d)trafficking in illegal drugs; (e)manufacturing illegal drugs for the purposes of distribution; (f)arson; (g)robbery with a dangerous weapon; (h)attempts to commit the foregoing offenses; (i)assault resulting in death; (j)driving under the influence of alcohol, resulting in death; (k)fleeing the crime scene after committing a traffic accident resulting in death; (l)offenses which include one or more of the above-referenced offenses as lesser included offenses. <added on January 18, 2001>
5) On December 7, 2003, three Korean university students and six U.S. soldiers assaulted two Koreans in back street of Dae Yun-dong, south Pusan. The three Koreans and one of the U.S. soldiers were arrested on the spot, the two U.S. soldiers identified, but the three U.S. soldiers have not been identified to this day. The arrested U.S. soldier is charged for stabbing Mr. Kim in his neck with a broken glass goblet and stealing his wallet and mobile phone.
6) In February, 2000, Albert L. McFarland, the then deputy chief of the mortuary at the Yongsan base, ordered his junior staff to throw away 470 bottles of embalming fluid formaldehyde in the sewer without purification system. The citizensユ group that discovered the incident brought a charge against McFarland to the prosecution. The prosecution lodged a summary indictment against him with a penalty of 5 million won, but the Korean Justice Ministry put this case on the formal legal proceedings. However, the U.S. military authorities presented a duty certificate insisting that jurisdiction belongs to the U.S. side, and did not let McFarland appear in the court. Although McFarland had paid the penalty accepting the Korean jurisdiction, he got the penalty back upon the claim by the U.S. military authorities. The Korean Justice Ministry had made effort for three years to convene a trial, and tried McFarland in his absence, being unable to determine his whereabouts. On January 9, 2004, the court ordered McFarland a six-month jail term for violating the water quality environment preservation law.
7) SOFA Article III Paragraph 1: Consistent with the right of the United States to take メall the measures necessary for their establishment, operation, safeguarding and controlモ within granted facilities and areas, the United States shall notify and consult with the Government of the Republic of Korea on a timely basis about planned (1)modification or demolition (removal) of indigenous buildings and (2)new construction or alteration as defined by the Joint Committee that may affect the ability of local Korean providers or communities to relevant utilities and services, or may affect health and public safety in local communities. ... This procedure does not preclude the United States armed forces from making direct coordination with a local government for planning purposes. <added January 18, 2001>
8) The Han-Kyoreh, April 25, 2003
9) At the sixth Consultation Meeting on the Future ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiative held on January 17, 2004, the ROK and U.S. governments agreed on the transfer of the troops stationed in the Yongsan Base, including ROK-U.S. Joint Command and United Nations Command to Pyeongtaeg by 2007. The agreement however excluded from the transfer list the 82,500m2 occupied by the commandant office in Seoul used as liaison office as well as the duty collaboration unit of 50 staff and the Dragon Hill Hotel. The cost of relocation of the Yongsan Base is estimated at 3 to 4 billion dollars. Although the whole cost will be covered by the Korean government, its precise amount has not yet been determined. The cost could be bloated if the Korean side tries to meet the U.S. demand. The Korean government now faces a strong opposition from the residents in Pyongtaeg, who are outraged by the planned construction of a new U.S. military base in their community following the transfer.
10) University students and others broke into the drill ground to prevent the Striker brigade combat team from conducting the exercise, demanding the halt to the exercise by the Striker team, which will increase danger of war on the Korean Peninsula. All the protesters were arrested by the police.
11) The U.S. military had named its air base Osan Air Base, although it is not located in Osan City. As the name was translated into Korean without correction, many people think that the base is situated in Osan City. Osan city neighbors Pyeongtaeg city, but the U.S. air base is actually located at Songtan in Pyeontaeg City. There is no way to know why the U.S. named the base located in Pyeontaeg the メOsan Air Baseモ, but some say that the U.S. troops did not know the name of the place where they were to be stationed.
12) Candle demonstration began on November 16, 2002 and continued everyday for 400 days, but starting from this year, it is held every Thursday. The candle demonstration in Gwang Hwa-mun calls for sovereignty and peace in the Korean Peninsula and pays tribute to the two junior high schoolgirls, and at the same time it is a manfestation for peace and against the war on Iraq.