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U. S. forces request free use of Incheon airport site

Posted October. 03, 2000 21:25,   


The United States Forces in Korea, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation and Ministry of Defense have been embroiled in a battle over the USFK's request for the free use of the new facilities and some land at Incheon International Airport, which is now under construction.

According the documents submitted to Rep. Lee Yoon-Soo of the Millennium Democratic Party by the construction and defense ministries, the USFK sent an official letter last August demanding 2,239 pyeong of land for the site of a mail terminal and 135 pyeong for a personnel waiting area, 333 pyeong for a parking area, totaling 3,732 pyeong.

The American forces in Korea reasoned that, with the projected opening of the Incheon airport in 2001, they need facilities and sites to substitute the mail terminal and others now accommodated in Kimpo International Airport.

The Incheon airport authorities sent a reply, saying that, since the facilities and land of the airport are owned by the corporation but not the state or the local governments, all the facilities and the sites will be made available with due compensation, even to the state organizations.

Ministry of Budget and Planning has earmarked pertinent budgets for the 16 government agencies' accommodation in the airport, including entry-exit management office and customs office, given that the corporation will have to sustain some 100 billion won in annual deficits for the operation of the new airport hereafter.

Noting that the arrangement of the passenger terminal facilities was completed between 1995 and 1998, the construction and transportation ministry maintained that, if the USFK wants to use the airport, it will have to build facilities with its own expenses. In line with the policy, the ministry has sent notification of the refusal to the USFK authorities.

However, the ministry stated in the documents submitted to Rep. Lee that in the letter to the USFK the ministry said that it will consult with the defense ministry, the foreign affairs and trade ministry and the USFK on the U. S. utilization of the airport facilities and land on the condition of the payment of compensation.

The USFK, meanwhile, sent an official letter again in August, claiming that the Korean government has the obligation to pay for the USFK to use the airport facilities in accordance with the bilateral security treaty and the SOFA.

In this regard the defense ministry also sent a similar letter, saying that the government won't bear the financial burden for the USFK airport usage, as the ministry itself has to pay its own compensation for its airport utilization.

Yoon Young-Chan yyc11@donga.com