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The 199th ROK-US Joint Committee of the Status of Forces Agreement Joint Press Release

18-020 | Dec. 10, 2018

CAMP HUMPHREYS, PYEONGTAEK —

Representatives of Republic of Korea and the United States of America held the 199th Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Joint Committee meeting at Pyeongtaek City Hall on 11 December 2018. The ROK delegation was led by Director General Kim, Tae-jin of the North American Affairs Bureau, ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.S. delegation was led by Lieutenant General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Deputy Commander, United States Forces Korea. In this year’s meeting, the two sides highlighted recent developments made in the course of USFK’s relocation to Pyeongtaek, as well as preparation for the return of Yongsan Garrison. The two Representatives pledged to further cooperate on setting conditions for a successful transition, so as to maintain a stable stationing environment for USFK and enhance public safety and welfare.  

Against the backdrop of entering USFK’s “Pyeongtaek Era,” the Joint Committee mutually recognized that it is essential for the ROK-US Alliance to further mature positive, effective and harmonious relations between USFK and adjacent local communities, and pledged to enhance joint efforts to that end, such as reinvigorating activities of the Civil-Military Relations Subcommittee of the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee highlighted contributions made so far by the City of Pyeongtaek and the SOFA Counseling Center Pyeongtaek Office, which was established in 2016, to promote the welfare of the local Korean community and maintain a close working relationship with USFK. Furthermore, it pledged to enhance communication channels among the Pyeongtaek Center, the Public Affairs Office of USFK, and other local organizations to expand and diversify opportunities for exchange between USFK and Korean local community members, in order to enhance mutual cultural understanding. The channels will also coordinate closely on prevention and response measures to challenges or incidents that may adversely affect civil-military relations with adjacent local communities. The Joint Committee also recognized the two sides’ joint efforts in the prevention of crime and in addressing noise complaints associated with military installations. Both sides committed to maintaining timely and close communication and cooperation, in order to minimize inconveniences that may arise from USFK’s relocation to Pyeongtaek.

The Joint Committee, taking note of a heightened sense of anticipation and interest among the Korean public towards the return of Yongsan Garrison, recognized the smooth cooperation demonstrated by the two sides regarding new initiatives to enhance public awareness and understanding. These have included on-base tours, exhibitions, and access to Yongsan for ROK Government planning and the protection and preservation of cultural heritage properties. In the Joint Committee meeting, the U.S. shared with the ROK an update on the recent developments regarding preparatory steps to ensure a smooth return of Yongsan Garrison. The Joint Committee pledged to continue its close cooperation, in order for relevant SOFA procedures to be carried out efficiently.

Moreover, the Joint Committee assessed the various outcomes of the SOFA channel consultations over the past year. These included: Authorization for ROK government construction for flood mitigation on Camp Mobile (in Dongducheon) prior to a formal return of the property; 20 cases of disclosure of non-confidential information related to SOFA implementing agreements regarding various subject areas such as disease prevention and control, facilities and areas, as well as utilities; Consultation on Joint Inspection Procedures in Camp Humphreys, following the USFK Headquarters relocation to Pyeongtaek; Commitment to improve understanding, transparency, and coordination with local Korean authorities regarding USFK use of Korean nationals as armed security guards on USFK Installations; Initiation of discussions on improving the procedures required for Korean National Employees of USFK to access U.S. computer networks and facilities. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to continue joint efforts to further enhance the management of SOFA-related issues that are closely related to everyday lives of USFK personnel and the Korean public. These include mutual efforts to maintain force readiness, minimize public inconveniences, and protect public health and safety.

The Joint Committee mutually recognized that environmental protection on and in the vicinity of USFK bases is of mutual interest to both Korean communities and USFK. The two sides reaffirmed the need for faithful implementation of the Joint Environmental Assessment Procedure regarding the to-be-returned bases and pledged to continue constructive discussions on the environmental issues to this end. Both parties committed to cooperation in the periodic update of the USFK’s Environmental Governing Standards (EGS), and for sharing of environmental information on and appropriate access to USFK facilities and areas. The US Representative reaffirmed that USFK takes environmental protection very seriously and continues to operate responsibly in accordance with high standards and discipline to ensure protection of the environment on all USFK installations in operation, whether they be enduring installations or those scheduled for future return. 

The two Representatives recognized the close partnership and efforts of the two chairpersons of the Facilities and Areas Subcommittee that has been and continues to be instrumental in the relocation of USFK units and operations to Pyeongtaek. Both chairpersons received plaques in appreciation for their commitment, accomplishments, and team work.

The Joint Committee pledged to continue close partnership and transparency in addressing challenging SOFA-related issues with mutual trust, respect and diligent cooperation, so as to     further strengthen the ROK-US Alliance. The next Joint Committee meeting (the 200th meeting) is expected to occur at a mutually convenient time in 2019.

End.

  • U.S. Forces Korea