The Yongsan Garrison, which served as the US military headquarters in South Korea until the headquarters’ relocation to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, in June, opened to the Korean public for the first time in 114 years on Friday.
A special bus tour program was jointly launched by the Ministry of Land and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, for those who are interested in visiting the army base in central Seoul that has been inaccessible to Korean civilians since 1904.
The bus tour program runs through the end of the year.
Mancho Stream, which flows through the Yongsan Garrison, is seen Friday. (Yonhap)
Since last year, the base has been undergoing relocation to Camp Humphreys near the city of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. It was decided in 2005 to turn the site into a national park once the relocation process is completed.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said more Koreans are being interested in the site as it will be returned to South Korea when all facilities of the base are fully transferred to Pyeongtaek.
“The purpose of this special bus tour is for Koreans to have a glimpse into what the property looks like (before all the facilities are transferred),” Park said in a joint statement with Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the area in Yongsan where the base is currently located, is where the Imperial Japanese Army originally created it as its garrison from 1910-1945 and served it as its headquarters during the colonial period.
The US military took over the garrison after Japan’s surrender in 1945, and had used it as its main command in South Korea until the US military headquarters was moved to Pyeongtaek in June.
Both the Imperial Japanese Army and the United States Forces Korea never allowed Korean civilians to enter the site throughout the last 114 years.
Korean nationals who are interested in the bus tour should apply for tickets at www.ysac.or.kr
from Nov. 12 to Nov. 20. For more information, call 02-703-0052.