[EDITORIALS]Defending the capitalNegotiations over moving the U.S. military out of Yongsan Garrison now involve the likelihood of moving the UN Command and the Combined Forces Command out of there as well, and this raises questions about the defense of the capital. There has been no agreement between the United States, which wants 228 acres of the 660-acre garrison, and South Korea, which is willing to live with a 144-acre residual military presence there. The U.S. secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has proposed to pull the UN Command and the Combined Forces Command, and the Blue House has apparently accepted that idea.
The so-called “independent” faction in government, as opposed to the “pro-ROK-U.S.-alliance” faction, has apparently emphasized the end of 120 years of foreign military presence in Seoul. Nobody welcomes foreign military in the capital, but the U.S. is here for a national security reason. Has the government resolved the condition that required its presence? If so, there should be an explanation. But if the government is merely appealing to the complacency of the people, it is not going to win much lasting public support.
The relocation of the U.S. 2d Infantry Division south from its position just below the armistice border, and of the entire Yongsan Garrison to Osan and Pyeongtaek in southern Gyeonggi province, would mean the end of the U.S. military as a “trip wire.” What else is there to stop the 11,000 North Korean artillery pieces aimed at Seoul? It would take time to set up an adequate defense of the capital, and the cost would be astronomical. It is amazing that the government has agreed to the relocation without a defense plan.
When the U.S. military moves completely south of the Han River, the jitters among foreign investors will be at least as great as the concern felt by us. Investors have been leaving already in the face of militant labor and the North Korean nuclear tensions. A policy that would keep them away forever must be reconsidered. A national leader who bases an important national decision on the popularity that tends to follow nationalistic self-esteem is not the kind of leadership we need. We urge a more cautious review.