ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on May 3rd, 2012 at 3:15 am

Yongsan Garrison To Begin Transition To Becoming A Seoul City Park In 2017

» by in: USFK

I really hope I get to see the creation of this complex of parks over Yongsan Garrison happen instead of the land just being turned into more apartment buildings:

The decade-long process of turning the largest U.S. military installation in South Korea into a Central Park-like oasis in the middle of Seoul will begin in 2017, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

The start of the transformation is timed to coincide with U.S. Forces Korea’s move from Yongsan Garrison as part of a long-planned consolidation of U.S. troops to the Pyeongtaek-Osan area and to Daegu, shrinking the military footprint in South Korea from 107 bases to 48.

Rotterdam-based West 8 and South Korea’s Iroje will design the project, which, according to West 8’s website, will emphasize sustainability, the preservation of green spaces and the “fundamental concept of healing.”

“Yongsan is kind of our sad history, and we thought that we need to heal,” said Choi Hyeyoung, a landscape architect for West 8.

In one of the most painful chapters in Korea’s past, Japanese forces occupied the peninsula from 1910 to 1945, basing a number of troops at Yongsan. USFK and 8th Army are now headquartered at Yongsan, operating out of a number of Japanese colonial-era buildings that remain standing.

Choi said more than 30 of the Japanese buildings will be incorporated into the design of the future park as art galleries, museums and exhibition centers, some exploring the base’s history.

“Keeping the buildings has a lot of architectural value,” she said, because few buildings from the first half of the 20th century remain standing in South Korea.

Choi said a greenway will connect the park to Namsan mountain and a land bridge will connect the park to the Han River area.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

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  • Kormatt
    1:49 am on May 3rd, 2012 1

    That will be long damn bridge!!! Maybe they made the plan without even comin to Korea to see that yongsan base is not that close to han river.

  • kushibo
    1:49 am on May 3rd, 2012 2

    I own an apartment near Seoul Station, so what happens to the military base has enough of an impact on my property that I try to keep up with developments. It looks like this article hit all the things that I’ve been reading, including the idea of a nearly unbroken greenway from Namsan all the way to the Han River, which will involve razing some homes in Haebangchon.

    And I’m glad to see that they’re planning to keep some of colonial-era buildings. Some of the buildings have been well maintained and would be an asset to Seoul’s architectural legacy if they remain standing. (Some even have bullet pockmarks from the war.)

  • kushibo
    2:02 am on May 3rd, 2012 3

    Kormatt (#1), depending on where in the park they do it (e.g., the National Museum or the existing Yongsan Family Park which was built on the former golf course), it’s about 3000 to 4000 feet, roughly a kilometer.

  • Matt
    8:36 am on May 3rd, 2012 4

    I wonder what the definition of “begun” will be? “Look at this beautiful model of what Yongsan will be developed into?” That could be a “beginning.”

  • Kingkitty
    12:30 pm on May 3rd, 2012 5

    So yes the transformation begins….this is why so much new construction has begun….after the turn over the camp will sit vacant for years while activist protest about the obvious environmental damage on the base and then facilities will be left open and eventually be torn down like they did at page, falling water, kyle, Essyonce

    Then it will become an apartment building and those colonial building will be torn down after YEARS of neglect

    4:21 pm on May 3rd, 2012 6

    And where did Stars & Stripes get this information from??? USAG-Yongsan is so far in the hole financially that even if they wanted to relocate they could not afford to move one inch south toward Camp Humphreys!!!

  • Teadrinker
    6:06 pm on May 3rd, 2012 7

    “will begin in 2017″

    It will take 5 years to do anything? In other words, they are passing the buck.

    PS. Wasn’t the process supposed to be completed by 2012?

  • jakesmith
    7:06 pm on May 3rd, 2012 8

    hey koreans can dream

    12:41 am on May 4th, 2012 9

    Two years ago I was sitting in on a meeting with the Garrison Commander and his Deputy. The Deputy stated they would be lucky if all of this transition business started in 2019 because of the debt situation.

  • kushibo
    2:50 am on May 4th, 2012 10

    So is it a big fat lie that construction of buildings has begun at Camp Humphreys, with some of the buildings well underway?

  • kushibo
    3:01 am on May 4th, 2012 11

    I’ve been living in Seoul off and on since I was a teenager, and I remember back when the promise was that USFK would be out of Yongsan by 1996. :razz:

    Anyway, I have heard over and over again (mostly from USFK personnel) how they’re sure that as soon as the move is made, someone is going to come in and say screw the park and put in apartments.

    That’s always a possibility, and there are loads of people on guard for any signs of that. I don’t think it will happen, though, precisely because there are people watching out for it. There could be more apartments on the periphery (e.g., where Embassy Housing now is, or the apartments across from the Crown/Capital Hotels or the gas station), but the main part will be a park.

    You see, there are about a hundred thousand homeowners in Yongsan-gu, like me, and people will vote to get rid of the people who would betray them on this. The park is expected to enhance home values across Yongsan-gu and make it “the Manhattan of Seoul” (Youido’s former nickname), and they will not stand for it if that plan is changed.

    It’s a simple calculation: Current residents vote, while future residents of the would-be apartments do not.

    A lot of people have been waiting a long time for the redevelopment to come, and now that they have started to hear about the move to an expand Camp Humphreys, they’re getting impatient. If the pro-Pyongyang chinboistas start using environmental cleanup as a way to hold things up, they will be taken down by the Yongsan bourgeoisie. It could get ugly.

  • kushibo
    3:03 am on May 4th, 2012 12

    One last thing, the Yongsan developers should look at what has gone right and what has gone wrong with the Orange County Great Park where El Toro Marine Base once was.

    There were problems with environmental clean-up, disagreement from competing communities about what to put there (nearby residents wanted a giant park, while residents further away wanted a second major OC airport), and delay after delay after delay over the grand things that are supposed to go in there.

    There are quite a lot of parallels, despite the obvious difference of El Toro being in the same country and Yongsan being in a foreign country.

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    3:13 am on May 4th, 2012 13

    #10 – no, the construction is well under way down there at Humphreys. One of the issues is the whole McCain & co. Senate mutterings that the whole plan is ‘too expensive’ and should be ‘scaled back’. I saw some C-span footage of GEN Thurman saying the plan to normalize tours here in Korea was not possible, due to the ‘new fiscal realities’ USFK is faving. Of course, everything that was drawn-up and planned called for many more dependents and families at Humphreys, so that puts some projects in a conundrum. Some of what they have built and planned can’t be undone, but I’m sure they could cancel or draw down some of the phases that haven’t started yet. Also, you’ve got the presidential election going on here this year, and if the nut-job fringe takes over once again, who knows – they could just let those guys cut down the fences and squat on the land again. That’s one recent reason (but of course not the entire reason) that this is behind – Roh & co. let those squatters sit there for over 2 years and you know how things work – if its something already rolling, then it has a better chance of sticking to the plan and staying on-time. But as these things have delays in starting and execution, there are more and more opportunities for things to be changed, reduced or cancelled. Also, with the possibility of an anti-US government being elected, there is always the chance the ROKs could decide they don’t want to pay the billions that they have promised to so far – heck, we have our own Senate saying they don’t want to pay for it…so… The (somewhat reliable) rumor mill I’m tuned-into says that the 2019 date one of the posters mentioned above is what’s realistic, provided that either the US or the ROKs don’t change anything *again*…

  • guitard
    3:15 pm on May 4th, 2012 14

    kushibo wrote:

    There could be more apartments on the periphery (e.g., where Embassy Housing now is…

    I seem to recall that the embassy housing area technically is not part of Yongsan Garrison (USFK), is not being returned to the Koreans – and will continue to be embassy housing after USFK moves out.

  • kushibo
    4:37 pm on May 4th, 2012 15

    Guitard, you are correct about that. However, if I recall correctly, the plan was for there to be some sort of land swap deal.

    The idea is to put embassy housing closer to where the new embassy will be, which is Camp Coiner. At least, that’s what was going on the last time I checked.

    This could also make Yongsan-gu an anchor for embassies that want to get out of their high-rise digs (like Canada’s) in favor of knocking down some old houses in Yongsan and being closer to other parts of the diplomatic community.

    The real question is whether Dragon Hill Lodge really will remain in US military hands, as was the plan.

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    5:59 pm on May 4th, 2012 16

    If those embassy employees get to stay housed on that vast swath of land they’re on now, it would be a travesty, IMO. They already have huge houses on huge properties – with YARDS, even – completely unheard of in Seoul. I don’t think it bodes well to let these guys live like royalty while the employees of all the other embassies have to find apartments, villas or what-have-you. I understand the ambassadors themselves having a nice, cushy place – that’s pretty common, but not a hundred or so of their rank-and-file employees as well. I don’t see how this helps US interests at all to have these guys living in ridiculous opulence as compared to their peers…

  • Tom Langley
    7:36 pm on May 7th, 2012 17

    Does anyone know the plans for the 121 Evac Hospital? That’s where I worked when I was stationed in Yongsan from 1979-1980. I also wonder about the Navy club, I don’t even know if it is still there or not. When I was in Korea they had the best pizza that you could get in Korea. It really wasn’t that great but I’m talking comparatively.

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:00 pm on May 7th, 2012 18

    They’ve rushed and put up buildings without the proper infrastructure for heat, plumbing etc. By the time they intend to occupy them, they will be uninhabitable. Rip everything out and start again. More money down the drain. Many phases, yet to be started, may never start. Of course the usual Korean graft and corruption are involved along with USFK’s piss-poor planning and gross mismanagement.

    I do think much of Yongsan (but not everything) will move – someday.

    I do think there will be – some – park land, but not as much as currently advertised.

    I do not think Camp Casey will move in our natural lifetimes unless other factors change – drastically.

    CRC and the smaller camps may or may not go away. They could be absorbed elsewhere although there are certain pieces of infrastructure which are quite valuable.

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    10:47 pm on May 7th, 2012 19

    Leon – I’ve heard (from more than one somewhat-reliable source) that the plan is to keep Casey as a ‘FOB’ since the major training areas (Rodriguez, Warrior Base, MPRC, etc.) are still up that way and lots of stuff will have to be rail-loaded for the big exercises, etc. You caught any drifts of this sorta thing?

  • timtim
    10:34 am on May 23rd, 2012 20

    so what is the latest news on when the 121st hospital will move?

    2:48 pm on May 23rd, 2012 21

    Oh Sungod, please don’t let Camp Casey go away. That’s my wife home town right out the main gate. I get dragged away to there every other year this time she cancelled. Anyway to just signed for wife ration card, so she can eat her ox tail soup and other American products that she has become accustom to using doing our 35 year of marriage while in country. Because of Camp Casey is why I go alone with her insistence of going back to Korea South; Camp Casey with it’s military retires community just make’s it little bit more tolerable. Without it being there it will be most boring without fellow retired to mingle with. When I look back on the first time I sat foot on this city and how much money been through there since 1975 it should be a city with a better infrastructure and quality of life systems for it’s citizens to match. Not, money where did it go? billions of dollars. I guess it all went out with those little black cars that park around the club area that came in and went out with other little black escorts cars after a GI pay day weekend.


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