|• Revised Romanization||Pyeongtaek-si|
Location in South Korea
|Administrative divisions||2 eup, 7 myeon, 13 dong|
|• Total||452.31 km2 (174.64 sq mi)|
|Population (2012 Jan)|
|• Density||945/km2 (2,450/sq mi)|
Pyeongtaek is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Located in the southwestern part of the province, Pyeongtaek was founded as a union of two districts in 940, during the Goryeo dynasty. It was elevated to city status in 1986, and is home to a South Korean naval base and a large concentration of United States troops. The Korean government plans to transform Pyeongtaek city to an international economic hub to coincide with the move of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) to Pyeongtaek. During the Korean War it was the site of an early battle between US and North Korean forces, the Battle of Pyongtaek.
The United States and South Korean governments came to an agreement to enlarge Camp Humphreys — a US Army installation outside Anjeong-ri, a community in Pyeongtaek — and move the majority of US forces stationed in and north of Seoul to the Camp Humphreys area. Invoking eminent domain, the government obtained the surrounding land for the base expansion.
The move originally included the headquarters of the Combined Forces Command, which has operational control of ROK (Republic of Korea), US, and UN combined forces during wartime. In March 2007, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and ROK Minister of Defense Kim Jang-soo agreed to dissolve the ROK-US Combined Forces Command on April 17, 2012. This would allow ROK forces to have wartime control of its military during a military confrontation with the North. The US/ROK agreement allows USFK to move to one centralized location away from the congestion of Seoul and its surrounding areas. This relocation agreement results in returning two-thirds of the land currently used by the United States Military back to the Korean government. By 2008, the US military was to have consolidated 41 installations down to 10 due to the relocation agreement.
There have been heightened protests against the construction of the new USFK headquarters near Pyeongtaek. Moreover, authorities evicted protestors from occupying the elementary school and working the fields where the base will be built by placing barbed wire at the boundary of the future base.
Struggles erupted on May 4, 2006, when some 13,000 South Korean military soldiers and riot police arrived to guard the land where the new Camp Humphreys was to be built. Farmers could not get to their land to cultivate their rice. When troops arrived to set up the fencing, residents moved in to block them. The activists claim South Korean military troops injured over 200 people and rounded up 500 more. However, none of the soldiers were armed and the riot police's main role was to prevent the protestors from attacking the soldiers. On May 5, 2006, an undetermined amount of unarmed Korean Army soldiers were attacked by protestors with pipes and sticks after the riot police prevented the protestors from breaching the site. After a public outcry from the parents of some of the soldiers who were attacked, the government started to equip the soldiers with bamboo sticks and armor. It was the first time since the 1980 Kwangju massacre that the South Korean military, as opposed to riot police, were used against demonstrators.
Pro-expansion protests were also witnessed during this time but at a much smaller scale. The main arguments of the pro-expansion protests were that the protestors that were occupying the Daechu-ri Elementary School were not local farmers but were from an organized anti-US civic group from outside of Pyeongtaek. They estimated that fewer than 10% of the individuals that were protesting the expansion of Camp Humphreys were farmers that were being evicted.
As planned, Yongsan Garrison, in Seoul, and the Second Infantry Division will be moved to the same area by 2019. The South Korean government's handling of the surrounding land has led to conflict with local farmers in Daechu-ri, Paengseong-eup due to the planned expansion of Camp Humphreys.
- ^ U.S. Move Is Spurring Evictions In S. Korea (Washington Post article)
- ^ Massive Force Mobilized to Evict U.S. Base Protestors (Chosun Ilbo article (English))
- ^ Activists Are Only Using the People of Pyeontaek (Chosun Ilbo English Editorial) article
- ^ More Violence Looms in Planned Rally at U.S. Base Site
- ^ U.S. base expansion in Korea sparks protests (Socialism and Liberation) article
- Official Pyeongtaek Website
- Anjeong-ri, a Pyeongtaek community outside Camp Humphreys
- Pyeongtaek in a Nutshell