New US Military Base in Pyeongtaek is completed

August 8, 2017

Elan Zohar, Korea Times Student Intern Reporter / Brentwood School Senior

In the midst of rapidly growing tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the United States Army has recently finished one of its biggest, most expensive projects after thirty years of talks with South Korean officials. American troops in South Korea will be relocated from their current base in the heart of Seoul to the colossal modern complex known as Camp Humphreys, just about a one hour drive south in Pyeongtaek. The $11 billion camp is set to house over 1,000 families and more than 45,000 people.

As visitors drive down the new multi-million dollar bridge leading to the garrison, what is most eye-catching about the base is not only its sheer size, but also its facilities and amenities. Because troops often bring their partners and kids while serving, Camp Humphreys did its best to create an atmosphere that is appealing to the whole family. Highrise buildings with three, four, and five-bedroom apartments were recently completed, along with two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. Additionally, multiple parks, sports fields, and even a water park have been installed.

For the soldiers, three fitness centers, supermarkets, and a 48-lane bowling alley are available for leisure time. An 18-hole golf course is also set to be completed, with generals‘ homes lining the edges.

The Pyeongtaek base, although almost 6,000 miles away from the mainland United States, was designed specifically to maintain an American feel. Wide roads, larger parking spaces, and American restaurants have all been put in place to make the base feel like any other American town. Knowing English has become a necessary skill for Korean business owners in the area.

The base’s new location will likely be the most impactful change amid the North Korean tensions. The US Army‘s old base in Yongsan was located in the center of Seoul, directly above the Han River. Now, closer to the Yellow Sea and south of Seoul, the army base is further from the conflict with the North. This not only keeps the American troops safer from a possible attack, but also allows the military more time for preparation in case an attack is on the horizon. The location change also gives the army more room to work with. Prior to the move, soldiers and equipment were confined in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Pyeongtaek now offers more room for all types of new equipment, technology, infrastructure, and personnel. Among the new infrastructure being installed is a modern hospital and dental clinic. According to the US Army’s official website, the 68-bed hospital will be capable of serving tens of thousands of patients every year. The dental clinic is equipped to support 40,000 eligible beneficiaries per year as well.

While the move does not imply that the United States is looking to invade or attack North Korea, it could be a sign that America is moving in a more aggressive and military-focused direction. Numerous recent North Korean missile tests have provoked America and its allies to consider tougher sanctions and to prepare militarily for a possible strike. Camp Humphreys will obviously be used to contain North Korea, but its location makes it apparent that the base could be used for other purposes too, possibly in case America gets into a more serious clash with Russia or China.

7 Comments

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  6. John

    August 16, 2017 at 6:13 PM

    Well written but the headline is extremely misleading. The base is not completed and there is still a lot of work to be done before the units can move in. The base won’t be completed for at least another year. I’m wondering why you wrote it is completed?

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