Ministry of National Defense (Yonhap)
The government and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea agreed Friday to lift the restricted military zone designation for some areas near the inter-Korean border to secure more land for civilian use and development.
The Defense Ministry and the ruling party held a consultative meeting and decided to release restrictions on about 2.74 million “pyeong” of land, equal to about 9 square kilometers, near the inter-Korean border controlled by the military.
The move will allow people to build and develop facilities without consulting the military authorities, as they will regain their property rights.
The released lands are spread in six cities, with 99.4 percent of them from Gangwon and Gyeonggi Provinces and Incheon, that the military deemed the decision will not affect military operations.
Restrictions were lifted for about 1.1 square kilometers in Incheon, 250,702 square meters in Gimpo, 4.98 square kilometers in Paju and 2.63 square kilometers in Goyang, all in Gyeonggi Province, and 32,075 square meters in Wonju, Gangwon Province, according to the Defense Ministry. Some 53,466 square meters of land in Umyeon-dong, in southern Seoul’s Seocho-gu, was also derestricted.
The move comes as Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung pledged to reduce the size of military restricted areas to expand the available land for local residents.
Separately, the Defense Ministry said it decided to ease restrictions on 3.69 square kilometers of land where new construction had been prohibited, to a less rigorous category, where such development will be allowed after consultation with the military.
The ministry also decided to transfer authority over some 34 square kilometers of land to local governments. This means the governments will now be in charge of approving developments and administrative processes in those areas.
They include areas that are considered to have little impact on military operations, including in Paju, Goyang, Yangju and Gimpo in Gyeonggi Province, and Cheorwon, Yanggu and Yangyang in Gangwon Province, among others.
Meanwhile, the government newly put some 2.48 square kilometers of land around major government facilities and military bases as military protected zones, meaning any construction requires consultation with the military.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org