The US Forces Korea will end all services at a major military base in the heart of Seoul within this year to prepare the return of the land to the South Korean government, military officials said Saturday.
The US military has been moving its bases from around the country to a refurbished garrison in Pyeongtaek, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul, since 2017.
While the USFK headquarters and the Eighth Army have moved to the new headquarters, called Camp Humphreys, the US military has been preparing to vacate Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul to speed up the relocation processes.
As part of the plan, the USFK will end services in convenient facilities, including a military hospital, a laundry room, a transitioning assistant program office and an outdoor pool, by Oct. 1, and shut down remaining amenities within this year.
"All services in Yongsan Garrison will end by the end of this year," a USFK official said, asking not to be named.
The relocation plan is the result of a 2004 agreement between the US and South Korea, which is eager to reclaim Yongsan and other bases that are occupying what has become prime real estate.
On Friday, Cheong Wa Dae said it will redouble efforts for the early return of more than 26 US military bases. Among 80 bases, 54 have been returned to the South Korean government so far.
The process of South Korea regaining the sites of the bases has been going slowly, partly due to handling of polluted soil.
The presidential office's call came as Seoul and Washington are set to launch negotiations on sharing the cost for the upkeep of 28,500 American troops in the coming month, with a defense cost sharing deal set to expire at the end of this year. (Yonhap)