[EDITORIALS]Resolve Yongsan situation

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[EDITORIALS]Resolve Yongsan situation

South Korea and the United States have signed the Land Partnership Plan, which closes or integrates facilities and installations of the U.S. Forces Korea. The plan will be implemented over the next decade, and the area to be returned is larger than expected, resolving many of the civil petitions lodged against the U.S. military bases here. The agreement was an important step forward because the United States agreed to relocate Camp Page in Chuncheon, Camp Market in Incheon and part of Camp Walker in Daegu. Those military bases were located in the hearts of their respective cities, triggering several years of civil petitions.

Yet the Korean and United States' military authorities failed to agree on relocation of the Yongsan military base in Seoul, which has been damaging the dignity of the nation's capital and causing controversy over urban development. We deeply regret that the relocation of the Yongsan base was postponed to be resolved down the road. The two parties should begin separate negotiations apart from the agreement to relocate the base - as soon as possible.

The agreement had no clauses on possible environmental contamination of the military facilities and installations to be relocated or returned, and that is a serious problem. The Defense Ministry said it would survey the environmental conditions of the areas before relocations and returns. U.S. Forces Korea, however, has showed a lukewarm attitude on environmental issues and it is easy to guess that the National Defense Ministry's efforts on the survey will be a waste. The U.S. troops here should change their attitude, and handle environmental issues more seriously and cooperate with South Korea.

The Maehyang-ri and Story bombing and strafing ranges, which have been the core reason for the civil petitions, were also neglected in the agreement. The two shooting ranges threaten the livelihoods and the rights to live of nearby residents, fueling anti-American sentiments. If the two military training ranges were vital for the U.S. forces here, the South Korean and U.S. governments should have provided compensation to the residents and reinforced safety measures. The two governments should hurry to resolve such shortcomings in order to protect the U.S.-South Korea alliance in the aftermath of an unsatisfactory Land Partnership Plan.
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