After their intial agreement decades ago there have been countless delays in their actual return.
For more, we go to our Kim Ji-yeon at Seoul’s defense ministry.
Ji-yeon, what’s the latest?
The Office for Government Policy Coordination along with the ministries of foreign affairs and defense said South Korea and the U.S. have agreed to the prompt return of a total of twelve U.S. military facilities to South Korea.
This was at a videoconference meeting held Friday at the 201st joint committee meeting on the Status of Forces Agreement.
Those installations in Seoul alone include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District in Jung-gu District Camp Kim, two parcels of the Yongsan Garrison including the South Post, Niblo Barracks, Seobinggo Compound, and the 8th Army Religious Retreat Center the rest all in or near Yongsan-gu District.
Locations other than Seoul include: the Camp Walker heliport in Daegu, the Seongnam Golf Course in Hanam , Gyeonggi-do; Camp Jackson in Uijeongbu , parts of Camp Mobile in Dongdocheon , Commander Naval Forces Korea Detachment in Pohang and lastly the Pilsung Air Range in Taebaek , Gangwon-do.
With this, 12 U.S. bases remain for return out of the 80 bases the U.S. is to return to Korea.
It’s not the first time the U.S. has returned military bases to Korea. Late last year the two sides reached a similiar agreement to discuss how they’re going to share the costs of decontaminating the bases. Has there been any progress in that front?
You’re absolutely right the two sides seem to still be in consultations regarding the decontamination issue so it seems South Korea will end up shouldering the costs until the two sides make progress in negotiations.
Around this time last year, the U.S. had returned four bases.
At the time, the Korean government had said there was a disagreement in determining which side is responsible for the costs of decontaminating the polluted parts of the four bases estimated to cost more than 92 million U.S. dollars.
An official from Seoul’s defense ministry said future talks will go forward in establishing a mutually acceptable standard to the U.S.’s KISE principle an acronym for the Known Imminent Substantial Endangerment to Human Health for the U.S. to shoulder some of the costs.
Despite the pandemic, the two sides have been conducting detailed environmental surveys since last December to determine the decontamination costs of the returned bases.
Back to you.