Yongsan land after US Forces are relocated

Contributor: Nam SangSo

When Korean government announced that the United States and Korea agreed in 2003 to relocate the U.S. Army Yongsan Garrison to Camp Humphreys by the end of the year 2017, and the Yongsan land will be developed to a large park, larger than London’s Hyde Park, many Seoul citizens not only overjoyed with the good news …

Topic: Habitat, Landscape, Mapping, People, Yongsan Legacy
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West 8 Model for the designed Yongsan park 2014

Korean people are generally known hotheaded. That is not always negative temper but had rather contributed in a way rapid recovery and growth of the Korean economy from the aftermath of the Korean War.

When Korean government announced that the United States and Korea agreed in 2003 to relocate the U.S. Army Yongsan Garrison to Camp Humphreys by the end of the year 2017, and the Yongsan land will be developed to a large park, larger than London’s Hyde Park, many Seoul citizens not only overjoyed with the good news but also impetuously wanted U.S. Forces to move out as quick as possible. The 14-year -waiting was too much for them.
The Yongsan Garrison will be emptied by the end of this year leaving Dragon Hill Lodge and some other U.N and U.S. headquarters behind, the units of which require to maintain a close contact with the Ministry of Defense of Korea, which is located at southeast corner of the Yongsan garrison.

In 2007, the government has enacted a Special Law for Development of Yongsan Park and drawn a Basic Master Plan for the Development of the 2,430,000 m2 (600 acres) Yongsan Park and put out international perspective drawing contest in 2012. A bird’s-eye-view landscape named “The future-oriented healing park” (a literal translation) by a consortium architects of the Netherlands and Korea was chosen as the prize winner in 2012 among many dozens of fine design concepts proposed by the local architects and architect professors.

Now as it’s clear that U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan will complete its relocation before the end of this year, then the question is; have the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) or the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation (MOLIT) completed its master plan or the phased construction drawings and documents ready to put out for competitive bidding? None of the above master plan, project program has been fully agreed by the concerned offices as of today, according to Chosun-Ilbo (March 13, 2018). The vernacular paper reports that discords on the master plan of Yongsan Park between the Ministries, Seoul City, Yongsan Gu Office and including Seoul City’s civic organizations have been drifting for more than two years as each office is demanding different idea.

While the presidential office is too busy in dealing with North Korean issue so it appears that the development of new Yongsan Park would be dawdled further, Seoul citizens might organize a tour guide to just see the empty site before bulldozers come in. So that the citizens will know how the U.S. Forces had responded to the North’s aggression in June 1950, and how and why they have been stationed in the Yongsan Garrison and ready to respond for any further attack by the communist North since the U.S. 7th Infantry Division had established its headquarters at Yongsan land in September 1945.

By Nam Sang-so (sangsonam@gmail.com), a retired architect who has served in the Building 1510, which still stands in the Main Post, and K-6 (now Camp Humphreys) in and out for 25 years.