[EDITORIALS]U.S. base deal achieves muchSeoul and Washington have concluded their negotiations on the Land Partnership Plan including the transfer of Yongsan Garrison, where the headquarters of the U.S. Forces in Korea is located.
In the finalized plan, certain clauses of the 1990 agreements that the Korean side had claimed were unfair were taken out. Also, the two sides reached a compromise on the physical size of the new U.S. military headquarters in southern Gyeonggi Province. It was agreed that Seoul would provide 1,154 hectares (2,851 acres) of land in Osan and Pyeongtaek, an agreement that reflected the Korean side of the negotiations.
Of course, there are those who have voiced dissatisfaction with the fact that South Korea has to cover the moving costs, which is estimated to amount between $3 billion to $5 billion. Some legislators, in both the government party and the opposition, have requested an audit of the new agreement.
Nevertheless, from a larger perspective, it must be said that the negotiations have achieved much. First, many of the unfair clauses, that were agreed on during the Roh Tae-woo administration, were revised according to our requests.
In addition, the agreement includes a new clause on the environment and provides that the facilities within the Yongsan Garrison used by the U.S. Embassy, an addition of 65 acres, will be returned to Seoul as well. All in all, these new changes should heal any wounded pride Koreans might have felt over the previous agreements.
Now, all that’s left for the government to do is to promote the agreement to the people. If we believe that a U.S. military presence in Korea is vital to our particular security interest, we should do our utmost to convince the residents of the newly designated garrison site to accept the move and lessen any possible friction. Following the relocation of the U.S. forces, we have to establish a plan to strengthen our independent defense capability swiftly.