Japan Peace Conference 2004
Green Korea United
We still have a hope
Once again we realized the power of the U.S. during the presidential election. Apparently they put out many public slogans "for America." Although they put out numerous public pledges "for America" the whole world paid attention to the election, because the influence of the result is not limited to the U.S. Since November 4th the world has talked about the election result and a discussion over the future of Korean peninsula has followed by another. That very day, the Department of Defense had a big conflict with the Pyoung Tek city residents over the expansion of the U.S. army base when it carried out an inspection. A tense atmosphere lurks over the peninsula since the President Bush, with a firm attitude on the matter of North Korea as opposed to Mr. Kerry, who intended to figure out the problem with conversation, has been reelected. Global Defense Posture Review (GPR) and the fight for U.S. militaries bases will be executed further. As the plan of U.S. to widen its influence all over the world continues, the fight for people who want world peace continues as well.
The Blood and Sweat of the Citizens in Pyoung Tek
Citizens of Pyoung Tek who currently live around Humphries camp area, two hours driving distance away from Seoul, have been living in the area longer than the U.S. soldiers. Since Japanese soldiers built the runway in 1919, the history of the unwanted evacuation of residents has started. Once again, the Korean government is asking them to leave the area. There are already lands reserved in Pyoung Tek for U.S. air bases with the size of 2,100,000 pyong and the land force bases for 1,500,000 pyong along with five other U.S. military bases and systems. An additional 3,490,000 pyong will be provided for the armies, which will make the total area for U.S. military twice larger than the current size. The government doesn't know the meaning of Do Doo plain to the citizen of Pyoung Tek. In early '70s they reclaimed the wasteland after 10 years of hard work. Now the land is used for rice farming and has just become one of the famous rice farming areas in Korea. What drives them crazy is the fact that they will use the land for hotels and golf courses. There was times that women in the area had to dress like men when they left their houses for places like rice fields because of frequent sexual harassments by U.S. soldiers.
The residents who have been going through tough periods because of the military crimes of U.S. soldiers are now having candlelight vigil everyday for 70 days as a means of the protest. They are showing the strong will with slogans such as "Never let them take our land" and "the land is our life we will fight for it till death." The government is planning to forcibly take the land under "national security" and "U.S. and Korea alliance." But they can never calm people down. The residents want the government to make public the result of the negotiation with the U.S. government. Though recently some members of national assembly has revealed several of the government documents, the people still have a doubt about that. Because, for example, the expense of the bases transfer is not clear. It might be going to be more than 30~50million dollars. For this reason the angers from the people are not merely for U.S. troops but for Korean government as well.
One-sided Negotiation on Yong San Military Bases
The final decision of the expansion of the military bases in Pyoung Tek was made in the 11th FOTA (Future ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiatives, which began in 2002) in August 2004 and currently is waiting for ratification of the parliament. Because the Korean government has been asking for the transfer of Yongsan military, the government has to pay all the expenses and provide 520,000 pyongs of land in the Pyoung Tek area. This is twice as much as in the previous negotiation, which only covered 260,000 pyong (in early 90's they tried to negotiate on the transfer of military base but cancelled because U.S. changed its mind and the issues of North Korea's nuclear weapon emerged) to obtain the high-tech weapons from U.S. In the new transfer we are exposed to danger that we may have to completely change the system to whatever they like for it since the idea of "duty and function" is specifically pointed out during the conference. Especially the "duty and function" means the allocation of U.S. force in Northeast part in Asia and it might threaten the peace in Korean peninsula. The expected amount for the transfer of Yong San station is estimated to 300 million dollars although it's perfectly accurate because MP (Master Plan) hasn't been set up yet. Korea government is trying to exclude the IA (Implement Agreement) from subjects of Congregational Ratification Agreement although the law states "the pact which gives financial burden to citizen" is a subject for the agreement.
The reason is because content of the agreement is reviewed already and Korean government is afraid of possible rejection. Whether or not the need for the transfer is only for Korean government is another issue for argument. This is necessary because, if that's not the case, Korean government don't have to pay all the expenditure for the transfer. In the agreement, it states that "uniting U.S. troops as the core power" and "the proper transfer at the right moment increase the level of life, the safety support, readiness for war, protection of troops and the system of continuous stationing of U.S. troops in Korea" which imply the atmosphere for U.S. troops would be improved. Since the unification of U.S. troops as the core power is what U.S. always wanted and they can build the military hub for Northeast Asia, which will be advantageous for U.S. it's not reasonable for Korea to pay all the expenditure for the transfer.
The Reduction in U.S. troops and the Increase in the Air Force
According to the LPP (Land Partnership Plan) the 28 of U.S. military training fields and the land with the size of 39,000,000 pyong were to be returned to Korea. The plan was changed by the amendment in the FOTA meeting to add 6 more bases to be eliminated and the change the operation time to be brought forth to 2008, for the plans that are set to be completed by 2011. In 2004, according to the report from Green Korea United (before the LPP was issued), ninety-four stations and facilities are distributed throughout the country. There are 38 stations, 11 training fields, and 14 communication centers. Among all the facilities 80 are for the ground forces. The strategy of the U.S. is to restructure the obsolete force on the ground with the Air Force and the Marines by stationing the Stealth Fighting Bombers at Gun San station at all time and arranging the troop of patriot missile in Soo Won, Pyoung Tek, Gun San, and Kwang Ju. U.S. is insisting that the dismissal of bases is policy of U.S. respecting the opinion of Korean citizens. But Story shooting range, on which people raised their voice to close, is now building more structures for expanding. The shooting range is renovated and expanded to 2,150,000 pyong and will be an all-in one training camp for machine guns, tanks, etc. U.S. troops in Korea already mentioned that "the trops will join immediately to Korean forces if a war breaks out," indirectly admitting the trainings in the Story Range of U.S. Striker Brigade Combat Team, the Special Operation Forces and the marines stationed in Okinawa.
The residents in Okinawa are fighting against the troops because there is possibility that U.S. trainings pollute the drinking water that's only 500m away. Moreover, the prohibited area from the public, the areas such as DMZ, is where many ecologically valuable plants and animals such as roe deer and Chinese water deer are found. Because the Story shooting range is not far from the south border North Korea has already announced that the expansion of the shooting range might create tension between soldiers of the south and the north. In spite of the environmental regulations stated in SOFA U.S. troops were expanding the Story shooting range ignoring the Korean domestic laws such as evaluation of environmental impact assessment. In the name of "Safety" U.S. troops don't follow any domestic law in Korea in which there are a lot of exceptions.
Breaking Their Plans
Residents of corresponding areas rejoiced over the announcement which is 34 of U.S. army bases are returned. They almost forgot the sufferings over the past few decades. However, the joy didn't last long. The Department of Defense legislated for a special law which makes it possible to sell the bases to appropriate the moving cost. In Busan, a group of citizens and local communities have been trying for ten years to make Camp Hialeah a public park to compensate the sufferings. If the camp gets on sale as the government intends the local communities have to buy the land at a high cost. And that means their plan to make the area a park is very likely to dissipate. It is no wonder for the residents and local communities to insist a free return. They even say that they could break the government's plan to relocate the U.S. army bases by sabotaging the sale of the land.
Who Is in Charge of the Peace in the Peninsula?
The reason of Koreans' interest on the U.S. presidential election is the special relationship between Korea and the U.S. Although the spirit of independence in Korea has been elevated and that the various crimes and environmental contamination cases caused by the U.S. army has increased Koreans still agree to the high influence of the U.S. in Korea and northeast Asia. Many people disappointed on the reelection of the President Bush and criticized the failed movement. However, instead of arguing over the election result it is more important to make the Korean government listen to its people and proceed with independent policies. The Department of Defense is proposing an extension of dispatching Korean army forces to Iraq. The proposal will be taken care at the National Assembly as well as the matters of relocation of Yongsan camp and LPP agreement on the amendment. In Korea people are trying very hard on the streets and on the National Assembly to stop these bills from passing. The peace in Korea is not something U.S troop, so-called the peacemaker and world police, could bring. It is the job of our own, fighting for lives in the Han peninsula and the world. That is our hope.