Korea to pay for Yongsan relocation
U.S. is using joint fund paid by Seoul for $9.1 billion in moving costs
The United States is expected to divert Korea-contributed funds, earmarked for bolstering joint defense capabilities, to a project to relocate the American military headquarters in Seoul and other bases further south, government sources said yesterday.
The move would effectively make Korea shoulder almost all expenses for the massive project initially estimated to cost around 11 trillion won ($9.1 billion).
According to government sources, the U.S. has kept most of the funds Korea has contributed in the name of joint defense capabilities in a federal bank account. Washington apparently plans to use that money to fund its 4.7 trillion won share of the base relocation cost, they said.
In addition, the U.S. has recently asked Korea for a guarantee that it will provide 1.7 trillion won in cash to cover the cost for designing a new base and other expenses, and that the payment guarantee be mentioned in a joint statement to be adopted at October’s annual defense ministers’ meeting, the sources said.
The U.S. plans to move its military headquarters from Seoul and some other bases stationed north of Seoul to Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of the capital city, as the two countries realign their alliance to give Korea a bigger role in its national defense. The location of the U.S. military headquarters in Yongsan, in the heart of Seoul, has long been a source of criticism.
The timeline for the relocation project, however, had been readjusted several times because Seoul and Washington were in a tug-of-war over cost-sharing plans and other technical matters in building facilities at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek. When fully expanded, the new base will serve as the main hub of the U.S. military in Korea.
The U.S. stations some 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea. Yonhap