Korean People say,
“RETURN! FARMER’S LAND!”,
“STOP THE EXPANSION OF CAMP HUMPHREYS, PYEONGTAEK!”
# The summary below much owes to the works of the media activists and to the literatures of the Korean Peace organizations-specially by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center and the South Gyeonggi branch of the solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea which have kept the monthly rally in front of Pyeongtaek station. I added my own personal research here.
"Let people do farming. Do not leave the lands of Daechu-ri and Dodu-ri idle!"
Monthly peace vigil in front of the Pyeongtaek station by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center (representative, Kang, Sang-Won)and South Gyeonggi branch of the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea(SPARK, secretary Hyun, Ho-Hyun) of Korea on Nov. 29, 2008
The big banner in the first photo says, "People's bloody tax are being poured, stop the expansion construction of the Pyeongtaek US base! Too noisy to live, solve the noise damage by the US combat aircrafts!"
(4) Map Image source: South Gyeonggi-do branch of the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea/ English title added
(5) Photo source: Kim, Do-Sung producer
The once golden rice fields of the Daechu-ri are now being idle and desolate
(6) Map of the Gyeonggi Province, English title added
(7) Pyeongtaek on Wikipedia
(8) In the photo on Nov. 19, 2008, Yoo, Young-Jae, the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea (SPARK) is explaining the estimated cost allotment by the US and SK governments for the relocation of the US bases into the expanded & constructed Pyeongtaek US bases in the South Korea. While the original agreement for the payment between the two governments was 45(US):55(SK) in 2002~2004, with the USFK abuse of the SMA, the whole cost by the South Koreans is now estimated as 94.2%(about $13~14 billion), while by the US, as 5.8%(about $0.75billion). Added with the civilian housing construction fee, the shared defense budget amounts to about $5 billion which contributed the dramatic burden increase by the South Koreans for the construction of the expanded Pyeongtaek base.
(9) The table drawn by the South Gyeonggi branch of the SPARK. Compare the yellow bar(US allotment 5.8%) and the red bar (SK allotment 94.2%), regarding the cost comparison mentioned above.
(10) We denounce the construction plan for the nuclear war protection facility in the Pyeongtaek US base by the KORCOM
English title added.
(11) Children of the Peace School with their own writings and drawings for the peaceful unification of Korea, City of Osan, nearby Pyeongtaek, Dec. 18, 2008.
My purpose to write the report on the struggle of Pyeongtaek since April 2007 is to let you know some issues which have mattered regarding the expansion construction of the Pyeongtaek base and to let you know the struggle is still going on.
One may remember, the fierce struggle by people, mostly rice farmers, in the villages of the Daechu-ri, Dodu-ri, against the triple expansion of the Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek, for the set up of the U. S. military hub in the North East Asia, which has an air base which includes parts of the city of Osan and a port nearby.
In 2003, the both governments of the US and SK agreed to relocate the US garrison in Yongsan, Seoul, the US 2nd Infantry Division in Ujeongbu & Dongdoochun in the north of Gyeongki province near the Demilitarized Zone and the Camp Page in Choonchun to Pyeongtaek, about 7,000 km(less than 2 hours by car) southward from Seoul. The whole plan was under the U.S. strategy change named “Strategic Flexibility” of which the core content meant the SK would be the rampant ground for the US military to invade the other countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite the total struggle for more than three years by all the village people and the Korean peace activists, and the strong global solidarity with it, the people could not but give up the land in April, 2007. The supposedly progressive SK government then had even deployed the military to oppress the struggle on May 4, 2006. On the day of April, 2007, it was a tremendous pain for all the Korean people, especially for the farmers, especially the Daechu-ri Farmers.
At the time, I was in the city of New York, United States. I could only know the news of the struggles of Daechu-ri via the peace activists websites and other news site. I just visited Daechu-ri once in 2005. So, I am not really qualified to render all the glory and pain of the people who threw down their bodies in the struggle. But I am so grateful of all the activists and artists at the time who had kept enormous and wonderful records on the struggle so that I could humbly refer to them in this summary.
Since I returned back to Korea in July, this year, the after-stories of the Pyeongtaek were less heard than in the past. It could have been a big trauma for all the people who directly involved in the struggle. Still, I found that the same activists are again devoting themselves in another struggles against the US bases in Korea and that there started the monthly rally in front of Pyeongtaek station this year by the activists who have lived in Pyeongtaek long time. And the statements, protests by various peace organizations surrounding the problematic issues of the Pyeongtaek construction have captured me. I apologize to many people whe have much involved during the struggle and whose stories I could not include enough here. And I so thank you.
The struggle was not over but keeps going on. Some were preparing the next phase of the comprehensive struggle such as the movement of Peace Agreement which demands the US troops out from the SK and end of the US-SK alliance(SPARK).
2. Under the US Strategic Change, Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek is triple -expanded, at the cost of expelled farmers.
Since they have no more rice fields to work on, they have made living by public labor which would only remind them the visceral fact that they had above all been farmers in the golden rice field. The rice field of the Deachuri had been of not only the highest quality in the South Korea but also of inspiring motive of art by many artists and poets in the South Korea. (For the videos recording the struggles and arts of Daechuri, from 2003 to 2007, please see the reference in the end).
It is unspeakable suffering for them to see their rice field enforced by the government being idle for two years now since the construction has been being delayed not only because of their long time protests but for the still going-on negotiation process between the United States Forces of korea(USFK) and the SK government, including the technical matters etc. The original completion plan for the base was 2008 but to be postponed to 2016. Now in 2008, even the basic construction of landfill could not begin because of all the high cost. The loss of farming three years up to now are estimated about $ 13 million(17 billion won). The farmers now trying to re-work on their former rice fields rather than seeing the fields idle.
Otherwise, not all the village people have the financial abilities to move to the new complex and the government has little alternative on this. Moreover, the provisional public labor job whose wage is about $650 (800,000 won)a month would be even dramatically reduced in this financial crisis.
According to the reporter of the article, one village person who had lived 12 years in Daechuri lamented, “Do you know how sad is to lose the hometown? The migrants from the north would still find their hometown once the Korea is unified. But we lost our hometown forever.”
In November 12, 2008, the US force in Korea(USFK) had the celebration ceremony for the set up of the totally new enlarged Pyeongtaek base. The expanded base would accommodate 40,000 people including the 28,000 US soldiers and have luxury of the city life(?).
The video website of the Camp Humphreys of the Pyeongtaek, USFK now boasts how the grand plan for the base and its international city style life would be. It erases all the histories, cultures and struggles of the poor farmers whose blood-tear shedding has been completely ignored and invisible there. Look at the two videos below.
The whole expanded construction plan of the Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek base does not stop for itself. According to the ‘letter to the citizens of Pyeongtaek’ passed around to the people near the Pyeongtaek train station on Nov. 29, 2008, in the monthly rally by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center and South Gyeonggi branch of the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea, its eventual grand plan is to make the city of Pyeongtaek as the international military and economic hub by establishing the Koduck, the new international peace city, as a rear city of the Pyeongtaek USFK base. It would be done by adding 2827acre to the existing 3701acre of Songtan air base and Anjung base(K-6) and enforcing the 4366 acre of the Koduck town of the city of Pyeongtaek.
The enforcement plan of the land of the Goduck town has already anticipated another struggle between the people in the Goduck town and the SK government. The people are currently opposing the plan and organizing the meetings, See the photos in the bottom of the website, here.
According to the same letter, the people in Segyo area of the city of Pyeongtaek and the Keumgok-ri of the Anjung county recently installed the banners opposing the railroad construction. The peace activists there say that, knowing that there was a pre-deployment training of the USFK marine on March 8, 2004(Yonhap news)and that the train crosses the US base in Anjung-ri, it is clear that the railroad would be used for carrying the military goods. They expect that the USFK would use the railroad to move to the Mugun-ri training site and Rodriguez military training site near the Demilitarized zone for military training and that it would carry the military materials during war time. The activists say it is why one of the reasons that the city of Pyeongtaek would be not a city for peace but a city for war once the railroad is constructed.
The relocation plan had been agreed upon the Land Partnership Plan(LPP) between the US and SK governments in 2002(revised in 2004). When the original plan for the completion of the Pyeongtaek base was by 2008, the cost was estimated about $10 billion.
Basically, the USFK is an occupying force and there should be no reason that the people in the South Korea pay the cost for it. However, according to the LPP, it was agreed that while the SK paid the 55% of the total cost for the relocation of the Yongsan garrison, the US would pay the 45% for the relocation of the 2nd Infantry division etc.
But in reality, the Korean peace activists have noticed that the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported on Oct. 9 that the US would pay only $ 0.75 billion. while the SK would pay about $13~ $14 billion of which the high amount would contribute to improvement of the C4I, to accommodation of luxury housing & facilities for the US soldiers and their families and to transformation of the whole base as the semi-permanent spearhead military base. As Wooksik Cheong, the representative of the Peace Network wrote, the construction cost of the Pyeongtaek base by the SK government and the US government is compared to higher than 1:15, regarding the completion year of 2016. In reference, the recent annual SK defense budget in 2009 has been about $20 billion. Above all, the whole and detailed blueprint was heard even not to be completed.
What happened? One of the main issue by the Korean peace organizations regarding the construction of the Pyeongtaek base is the USFK abuse of the Special Measure Agreement(SMA) between the US government & SK government and in the obligatory attitude of the SK government which tries to cover the illegality and immorality of the abuse by the USFK.
The SMA, first set in 1989 by the US government demands the SK government to share the budget for the US defense fee in the SK including the maintenance of the US bases in Korea. It has actively met by the SK government since 1991. The negotiation is done every 3 to 5 years. The budget share by the SK government actually comes from the taxes of the South Korean people. In 2007, it was disclosed that since 2000, the USFK had been illegally accumulated about $1billion, by saving the unused fee of the defense share budget given by the SK government to the Community bank(“invited contractor”) inside the USFK base, then reinvested 650 billion won(about $500million ) of it to the Bank of America, Seoul branch, gaining the interest of about $ 100million. Moreover, it is suspected of evasion of income tax of about $ 10million. As the USFK admitted, the community Bank is not owned by the US Fed but is a civilian commercial bank so it is the duty of the USFK to pay the tax to the SK National Tax Service. And the SK NTS illegally exempted the USFK from its tax duty. Currently the Solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea has protested against the NTS’s cover of it and the Center for Peace and Disarmament, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy has submitted the letter demanding full inspection of the abuse of the SMA to The Board of Audit And Inspection of Korea.
On Nov. 19, the concerned civil organizations and individuals from various fields of peace, religion, trade union, peasant, law, woman etc. had the common statement on the almost final agreement between the both governments on the Special Measure Agreement. Right now, in this financial crisis in which many Korean workers are laid off, the unimaginable unjust cost burden for the South Koreans and the immorality of the USFK can be read as part of how the US imperial strategy would keep its supremacy at the cost of people’s sacrifice globally.
According to the newspaper, the three stories underground bunker was said to be built against any chemical or nuclear attck from the North Korea. Quoting the military personal on Oct. 30., it said that, “If the KORCOM facility is completed, it would be the US’s third facility in the world which could survive in case of nuclear war” and that “There would be no other US military facilities like KORKOM except for the NORAD and the parts of the White House.” The bunker would be laid out for 1,000 personnel to survive for more than a month and would have not only the most advanced command control system (C4I) but also dinner room, shower room and recreation facility. The plan is even criticized inside the SK military and the USFK in the sense that it assumed the failure of the preemptive nuclear attack against the NK and that it did not make sense if only 1,000 could survive in the nuclear war.
If the plan is realized, the charge of the SK for the special facilities would be increased by 20%. The new plan was not in the original agreement between the USFK and the SK government in the beginning.
The peace activists in Korea, initiated by the SPARK, reminding the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review(NPR) in 2002 and the Quadrennial Defense Plan(QDR) in 2006 which opened the possibility of the nuclear preemptive strike against the NK, denounced the plan and had a protest on Nov.3, 2008 in front of the USFK Yongsan garrison in Seoul. The SPARK statement pointed out that 1. the plan aimed to realize the material condition for the nuclear preemptive strike against the North Korea: 2. the plan would seriously threaten the peace of the Korean peninsula and the North East Asia: 3. the plan would make the basis for the permanent occupation of the USFK in Korea and for the continued control of operational control of the SK military.
We could not hear any subsequent articles related to it but would watch for it.
In a same news letter, it quotes the survey result by the medical school of the Dankook University in 2005. The survey says there have been high illness rate of high blood pressure, depression, anxiety hindrance, insomnia, heart’s blood disease, artery hardening, self-closing symptom etc among the people nearby the Pyeongtaek US base. It also says there were lots of low grades in the Children’s intelligence test and many symptoms of depression, attentiveness deprivation & excess behavior hindrance in the same test. The farmers were said to have stress by air plane noise, which affects their harvest amount.
The issue of environmental damage by the US bases in the South Korea has actually been one of the big issues, especially in recent years. Many Korean organizations have concerned about it and once all the documents are collected, its content itself would be huge. I can not summarize it since my knowledge about it is incredibly superficial. I hope I can find a good material about it, which I can forward you sometime. But regarding Pyeongtaek. you may look at the article in the link.
__Realignment of U.S. Forces in Korea and Changes in US-ROK Military Alliance(Oct 2008)– Their Effects on People and Strategic Responses by the National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea
_ The Korean people's statement to the four nations of the Korean Peninsula Peace Forum relating to the peace agreement March 24, 2008
_ S. Korea, US Resume Talks on Troop Cost By Jung Sung-ki Staff Reporter
- [Editorial] No defense for unequal shares, Hankyoreh, Nov.24, 2008
_ Korea Times articles on Pyeongtaek
_US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Oct. 9, 2008
__Missile Defense and the Two Koreas by Cheong Wooksik(the Representative of Peace Network) January 24, 2005
__ [Column] The month of May in Pyeongtaek and President Roh-Moo Hyun’s “great failure”, Park, Jung-Eun, Center for Peace and Disarmament, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD), 2006/05/09
__USFK’s Pyeongtaek relocation rescheduled for 2019 2008/10/25
*note: The completion plan was recently rescheduled by 2106.
__Let the water flow in Pyeongtaek! Date 2006/05/16
__Seoul to pay 9 trillion won for U.S. forces base in Pyeongtaek, The total expenditure is expected to jump 3.3 trillion in one year to 12 to 13 trillion Date 2008/06/17
__AAFES gas station to open soon at Camp Humphreys _Stars and Stripes 12/09/08
_On-base fuel leak causes farmers concern By Teri Weaver and Hwang Hae-rym, Stars and Stripes, Pacific edition, Saturday, December 6, 2008
_ Camp Humphreys
_ Pyeongtaek on Wikipedia
• note: some contents in the Wikipedia reflect the conservative view. One of the referenced media for the site, ‘Chosun’ is very rightwing news paper in the South Korea, which has fiercely denounced by many South Korean People and peace activists. Do not believe all the details in the content of the site.
__ Last days of Daechu-ri(4min.)
__Get our fields back, that is peace 빼앗긴 들녘을 되찾는 것, 그것이 평화
*note: As in video, the cost burden for the South Koreans for the construction of the base was said about $5.5 billion in 2006 as in the original plan. Now it is expected about $ 13~14 billion(94.2% of the total cost) The video says, "With $4.7 billion, free medical service could be provided to all Korean people." The video was translated by the Seoul Radical Language Exchange.
__Struggle For Land (Part 1, 8min.)
__Struggle For Land (part 2. 7min.)
__Help Stop US Military Base Expansion in pyeongtaek
* note: Father Mun Jyeong Hyeon has also been active in the struggles of opposing Jeju naval air base and the expansion of the Kunsan U.S.A air base. He stays in Kunsan with his Peace Nomad friends who had lived in the Daechu-ri during the Pyeongtaek struggle. He has become a videographer himself, too.
__Strength of Our Candle produced by the Normad Peace
*note: The English subtitle comes soon if you can wait for. It is a little out of synch. But it is a valuable collection of the people’s voice themselves.
__USFK Relocation to Camp Humphreys Pyeongtaek(12min.)
• note: Around 5:19, it says that the SK government is planning to spend about $19billion for the regional development of Pyeongtaek to make it an international hub. In reference, the recent annual defense budget of the SK was about $18~20 billion.
__USFK Relocation to Camp Humphreys Pyeongtaek(4 min.)
_USAG Humphreys Groundbreaking Ceremony
_TOUR OF DUTY (Pt. 1) USAG-Humphreys - U.S. Army in Korea - Camp Humphreys - Newcomer Video
_TOUR OF DUTY (Pt. 2) USAG-Humphreys - U.S. Army in Korea - Camp Humphreys - Newcomer Video
* note: The whole cost for the construction would be not $8.5 billion but near & 13 to 14 billion. And while the U.S. pays about $0.75 billion, the other charge is now forced to be paid by the SK taxes. As Wooksik Cheong summarized in one of his Korean analysis, the cost rate for the construction between the US and the SK would be 1:15. The entire peace organizations in Korea, including the SPARK, The PSPD and the Peace Network are against this. Even in right wing dominated SK congress, it is now in dispute
_TOUR OF DUTY (Pt. 3) USAG-Humphreys - U.S. Army in Korea - Camp Humphreys - Newcomer Video
*note: Part 1 is about the general introduction: Korean war and plan of the three-times expanded Camp Hunphreys. Part 2 is about the detailed plan of the luxury facilities for the GIs and their family. Part 3 is about the DMZ tour and the introduction of the Korean culture for the new GIs in the SK. I wonder about the opening music in the videos. I don't think it is the Korean. I guess they put the music they think the 'oriental'.
Appealing letter to the citizens in Pyeongtaek by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center and the South Gyeonggi branch of the solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea, in the monthly rally, Nov. 29, 2008
Pyeongtaek Peace Center Website
South Gyeonggi branch of the solidarity for Peace And Reunification of Korea Website
Pyeongtaek Peace Center news letter, 평택평화센터 기획기사3_평택시민신문2008-10-20
Walter Sharp, KORKOM Commander says, "An individual of the USFK would stay the 36 months at the longest" 샤프 한·미연합사령관 “주한미군 최장 36개월 근무” 2008-12-11
"Stop the 20th SPI meeting! Stop the passing of the USFK reloaction fee!"[12/9]"20차 SPI회의 중단, 미군기지이전비용 전가 중단하라!" _111차 반미연대집회
South Gyeonggi branch of the SPARK annual meeting on Dec.18, “Yes, Peace Agreement, Good-by, USFK)
Monthly rally of Pyeongtaek, Nov. 29, 2008(sponsored by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center and the South-Gyeonggi-do branch of the SPARK)
Monthly rally of Pyeongtaek, Nov. 29, 2008(sponsored by the Pyeongtaek Peace Center and the South-Gyeonggi-do branch of the SPARK)
Village people oppose the hearing for the city plan for the internationalization of the Goduck, the would-be-expanded area of the city of Pyeongtaek 고덕(평택) 국제화 계획 지구 비대위
[ Collective statement from all fields] Stop the illegal abuse of the SMA[각계선언] 국민고통 외면하고 방위비분담금 증액할 때인가 , 2008-11-19
Collective statement from all fields] Stop the illegal abuse of the SMA[11/19] 각계인사 125인, “방위비분담금 불법전용 중단” 선언 2008/11/21
Daechuri , after the eviction 오현리의 미래, 대추리 그후 [한겨레 시사다큐 ‘한큐’]③ 자기땅을 ‘사격’당한 사람들 <2부> 임시거처에 공공근로로 생계, 그나마 곧 ‘끝’ 가을걷이 들녘 보며 “가슴이 저리고 미어져”
We denounce the construction plan for the nuclear war protection facility in the Pyeongtaek US base by the KORCOM, at the cost of the South Korean taxes-SPARK press interview and rally, 11/03/08
한국민 등골 핵전쟁 기지 만들려는 주한미군 나가라
In the ‘non-nuclear’ mood, the cost for the nuclear war protection facility would be $0.8billion? The SPARK says the concern that the US military domination would be long term…increasing question on the return of the war time operational control '비핵' 무드 속 '핵전쟁 방호시설' 공사비에 1조 원? 평통사 "美, 군사적 지배 장기화"...전작권 환수에도 물음표 가중 2008년 11월 03일 (월) 고성진 기자 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyeonghyang article: The SPARK protests against the KORKOM plan.평통사, "미군 핵전쟁 대비 시설, 동북아 평화 위협" [경향닷컴] 날 짜 2008/11/04
The SPARK statement to demand the stop of the the construction plan for the nuclear war protection facility in the Pyeongtaek US base by the KORCOM미국 한국전투사령부(KORCOM) 핵전쟁 대비 건설 계획 중단 촉구 기자회견문 2008/11/0311:46
美코콤 ‘핵전쟁 대비’ 건설… 공사비만 1조원 과잉공사 논란 [경향] 2008/11/0110:11
Peace Agreement Movement-Oh, Peace
평화협정실현 운동 - 오 평화 (727 한마당 상영 수정본)
Daechuri , after the eviction 오현리의 미래, 대추리 그후 [한겨레 시사다큐 ‘한큐’]③ 자기땅을 ‘사격’당한 사람들 <2부> 임시거처에 공공근로로 생계, 그나마 곧 ‘끝’ 가을걷이 들녘 보며 “가슴이 저리고 미어져” 김도성 피디
Have the plan for the village people damaged by the vericles for the landfil[영상]성토차량으로 인한 주민피해대책을 강구하라 평택평화센터 | 2008·08·11 16:15
The Struggle of Daechu-ri 대추리의 전쟁 (Korean) : 60 min.
*note: The video was famous because its screening was blocked by the former SK government. But it was heard to have been screened in the international film festivals. I hope I can find its English subtitled video.
Daechu-ri, Pyeongtaek(produced by NewsCham)평택 대추리 참세상 제작 영상: 6min.
평택 대추리 참세상제작영상! (6min.)
평택 대추리 어린이날의 비극1-1 The tragedy of the Children Day(The SK military and police violently oppresses the people’s resistance on May 4, 2006)
평택 대추리 달맞이 영상!!!
The 200th, Last broadcasting of the 'Deulsori'[meaning 'field voice/sound'], Good-bye, Daechu-ri, April 24, 2007 들소리 마지막 방송-안녕. 대추리. 2007 년 4 월 24일