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USFK bans alcohol sales after 9 p.m. in Yongsan

The main U.S. Army installation in Seoul has banned the sale of alcohol after 9 p.m. under a new policy going into effect this week, a report said Tuesday.

The Stars and Stripes, a U.S. military newspaper, said Col. William Huber, commander of the U.S. Army’s Yongsan Garrison, is seeking to promote “the health and welfare of the military community” and that the policy, which takes effect this Thursday, is meant to “standardize the hours for alcohol sales for Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities” in the greater Seoul area.

“Stopping the sale of alcohol after 9 p.m. helps implement an alcohol risk reduction and prevention strategy that responds to potential problems before they jeopardize readiness, productivity, and careers,” Huber was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the ban will affect AAFES shops at the Dragon Hill Lodge and the Main Post Mini-Mall. Other Seoul-area AAFES stores selling alcoholic beverages close at 8 or 9 p.m., the paper said.

The alcohol ban comes in light of a recent rise in drinking-related incidents among U.S. Forces Korea troops.

The paper said the U.S. forces had 127 alcohol-related incidents from October to December last year, a 53-percent increase from the previous quarter.

In a memo to soldiers last month, Gen. James D. Thurman, the USFK commander, called out officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) for violating an off-base curfew. In the October-December period, more than 50 of 168 curfew violators were NCOs or officers.

On Oct. 7 last year, Thurman imposed the curfew for 30 days, and extended it again in November. It had been withdrawn in July 2010 after being in place for nine years.

It was extended indefinitely in January, and the hours were modified from midnight to 5 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends to 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. seven days a week.

The new curfew was put in place largely in response to a series of criminal charges brought against U.S. soldiers since last fall.

The USFK has said the curfew applies to all U.S. service members in South Korea, whether permanently or temporarily assigned here. It doesn’t affect military officials at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, but military family members of civilians working on base will be “encouraged to abide by this policy.”

About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea. Their presence is a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty and left the two Koreas technically at war. 

(Yonhap News)
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