ROK-U.S. News

Stars & Stripes – Abrams defends coronavirus measures as more troops test positive after arriving in South Korea from US

Staff Sgt. Lamaar Melvin from the 51st Medical Operations Squadron administers a coronavirus test at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020. MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: July 20, 2020

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

SEOUL, South Korea — Gen. Robert Abrams defended his command’s anti-coronavirus measures on Monday, calling them “more stringent than just about any other country in the world,” as 10 more people affiliated with the military tested positive after traveling to South Korea from the United States.

The latest confirmed cases, which included six service members and four dependents who arrived in South Korea last week, raised to 98 the total number of infections linked to U.S. Forces Korea since its first case in late February.

The sharp increase, which is largely due to troops and family members coming from the United States for new assignments, has prompted growing concern in local communities, especially since South Korea has seen its coronavirus crisis largely stabilize.

The province of Gyeonggi-do, which includes cities near Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base, on Friday asked the military to test troops in the United States before they get on the plane.

Abrams said procedures within the United States vary but stressed that USFK has a strict testing and quarantine program that begins as soon as troops and other personnel arrive on the divided peninsula.

Local concerns

Everybody is tested twice for the virus — once before entering a mandatory two-week quarantine, then again before being allowed to leave. Those who receive positive results are kept in isolation and released only after they are asymptomatic for seven days and test negative twice.

“We have a tried and proven process to ensure that those traveling in from the United States — that there is no unnecessary exposure to Korea citizens or to our own population here on our bases. They’re strictly controlled,” Abrams said Monday on American Forces Network radio. “That’s actually more stringent than just about any other country in the world.”

While local officials expressed concern, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it enjoys close cooperation with USFK and expressed strong confidence in the military’s procedures.

South Korea was once an epicenter of the pandemic but has managed to flatten the daily number of infections. It requires all incoming travelers to be tested and quarantined but does not mandate an exit test.

“The USFK procedures, therefore, are even stronger than what we are practicing,” KCDC director-general Kwon Jun-wook said Friday during a press briefing.

Kwon also said he knew of no recent transmissions happening on a commercial airline, citing health measures by the flight crew and passengers and the air flow system on the plane.

“The air flows from top to bottom, and then from front to back,” he said. “Because of the way the air flow is designed, we test the front three rows and the back three rows when a confirmed case happens.”

Abrams noted that only 24 of the 98 USFK cases were contracted locally, with the most recent one recorded on April 13. The rest traveled to South Korea from abroad.

Service members and families exit the Patriot Express after arriving at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020
MATT KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

Safety net

Five service members and four dependents tested positive after arriving at Osan Air Base on U.S. government-chartered flights on July 12, 14 and Wednesday, USFK said Monday in a press release. Another service member arrived on a commercial flight at Incheon International Airport on July 13, it said.

Six of the affected individuals tested positive on their first test, with only two of them showing minor symptoms. The other four initially tested negative but later developed symptoms and were retested with positive results, USFK said.

“All individuals have since been transferred to an isolation facility designated for confirmed COVID-19 cases on either Camp Humphreys or Osan Air Base,” it added, referring to the disease that is caused by the virus.

The command said health authorities determined limited contact tracing was needed since everybody arriving in the country is tested and quarantined but all means of transportation and quarantine rooms occupied by the individuals had been disinfected.

“None of the new arrivals have interacted with anyone residing within the local community,” it said.

The new cases come as the United States struggles with another surge in infections and more than 3.7 million total confirmed cases.

South Korea, meanwhile, reported only four local transmissions but 22 imported cases on Monday, raising its total to 13,771 with 296 deaths since Jan. 20.

A sanitation crew works to disinfect the chartered Boeing 767 known as the Patriot Express at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020. MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

Many asymptomatic

Abrams also provided more details about the troops and others who tested positive upon arrival, saying 46 had displayed no symptoms, while 10 initially tested negative but received positive results on their second test, suggesting they had contracted the virus during their travels.

“We’ve only had a couple out of our 98 cases that have required any sort of in-hospital medical care, and it’s been really minor so, thankfully, we have not had any serious cases,” he said.

The military also increased the number of Patriot Express flights from two to five per week in anticipation of a backlog in travel after the Defense Department lifted a ban on moves that had been imposed to stem the spread of the virus.

“As long as they’re not symptomatic, displaying symptoms of COVID, they’ll be allowed to get on the aircraft,” Abrams said. He said the flights were only being filled at 60% capacity to enable social distancing and all passengers were required to wear face masks.

“We’re putting as many as we can on Patriot Express, but we’re still going to have the occasional service member or family member that’s going to have to travel here through the commercial airport,” he said.

USFK also had conducted 1,000 random coronavirus tests on-base and all were negative, he said, crediting continued vigilance against the disease despite a relaxation in restrictions.

“When you can’t maintain social distancing, you need to put your mask on because the mask is not about protecting you, the mask is about protecting everybody on your team in the event that you’re an asymptomatic, positive case, that you just don’t know about yourself,” he said. “COVID’S going to be with us for a while. This is the new normal and we just need to embrace it.”

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

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Yonhap – S. Korean assembly speaker proposes peace talks with N. Korean counterpart

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — National Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug on Friday proposed talks with his North Korean counterpart to discuss ways to enhance peace and cooperation between the two countries.

The dialogue offer by Park, who left the ruling Democratic Party last month to serve as the assembly speaker, came as inter-Korean relations are stalemated after the North’s provocative detonation of an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory a month earlier.

“The arbiters of the Korean Peninsula’s fate should be South and North Korea … As the first step to that end, (I) officially propose inter-Korean assembly talks to the representative of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly,” Park said in his speech marking the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of South Korea’s Constitution.

“I am prepared to discuss inter-Korean relations and issues sincerely, with an open mind, at any time and in any place,” Park said.

“Let us (meet) to declare a commitment to peace on the peninsula and coprosperity and find ways to institutionally back up inter-Korean relations,” Park said.

The assembly speaker also said he wishes to discuss inter-Korean cooperation in sectors like disease prevention, health, agriculture and forestry as well as railroads linking the countries during the envisioned talks.

National Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug (C) and lawmakers pay their respects at the National Cemetery in Seoul on July 17, 2020, to mark Constitution Day. (Yonhap)

National Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug (C) and lawmakers pay their respects at the National Cemetery in Seoul on July 17, 2020, to mark Constitution Day. (Yonhap)

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200717003500315

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Yonhap – ROK Navy set to depart for U.S.-led RIMPAC exercise

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — Two South Korean destroyers and hundreds of troops will depart for Hawaii this week to participate in a U.S.-led multinational maritime exercise slated to kick off next month, the Navy said Friday.

The 7,600-ton Aegis destroyer Seoae Ryu Sung-ryong and the 4,400-ton Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin will leave a port in the southern island of Jeju on Saturday to take part in the biannual Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC) scheduled for Aug. 17-31.

Along with the two destroyers, South Korea is sending two Lynx naval choppers and 570 service members for the exercise where Col. Kim Sung-hwan will serve as the Combined Task Force (CTF) commander.

In 2018, South Korea sent a submarine, a patrol plane and some 700 troops along with destroyers, but it is sending smaller forces this year as the upcoming exercise has been scaled down due to coronavirus concerns.

This year, land and shore-based training and social events on shore will not take place.

The Navy said all of its troops taking part in the exercise have been staying inside the vessels for the past two weeks, and have tested negative for the virus on Saturday.

“The exercise is expected to boost the operational capability of combined forces and the ability to carry out combined operations to improve joint response to various maritime security situations,” the colonel said.

In this file photo, provided by the Navy and taken on May 28, 2018, South Korean naval officers leave from Jinhae military port in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in Hawaii. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In this file photo, provided by the Navy and taken on May 28, 2018, South Korean naval officers leave from Jinhae military port in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in Hawaii. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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Stars & Stripes – Pompeo downplays possibility of summit with North Korea

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. ANDREW HARNIK/AP

By KIM TONG-HYUNG | Associated Press | Published: July 16, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the possibility of another summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the U.S. presidential election, saying Trump would only want to engage if there were real prospects of progress.

Pompeo’s comments during a forum in Washington on Wednesday followed repeated North Korean statements insisting it would no longer gift Trump high-profile meetings he could boast as foreign policy achievements when it’s not being substantially rewarded in return.

“The North Koreans have given mixed signals, but the truth is President Trump only wants to engage in a summit if we believe there’s a sufficient likelihood that we can make real progress in achieving the outcomes that were set forth in Singapore,” Pompeo said during the event hosted by The Hill, referring to the first Trump-Kim summit in June 2018.

“You need to have a willing partner, and the North Koreans have chosen at this point in time not to engage in a way that can lead to a potential solution. We hope they’ll change their mind.”

Trump and Kim have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018, beginning with their meeting in Singapore where they issued vague vows for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

But negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February 2019, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.

Some analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now before attempting an eventual return to negotiations after the U.S. election in November. They say North Korea likely doesn’t want to make any major commitments or concessions when there is a chance U.S. leadership could change.

But others say another Trump-Kim meeting wouldn’t be impossible. Trump could opt for something dramatic to improve his sliding poll numbers while Kim could see a window of opportunity closing with a Trump presidency and attempt a quick exchange between reversible denuclearization steps and hard-to-reverse sanctions relief.

In a statement last week, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader, said she doesn’t expect another summit with the United States this year, insisting that such a meeting would be “unpractical” for the North.

But she also said “you never know,” saying that a meeting would depend on the determination of the two leaders, and called for major concessions from Washington to keep alive the nuclear diplomacy.

The prolonged stalemate in nuclear talks have raised doubts on whether Kim Jong Un would ever agree to fully relinquish the nukes he likely sees as his strongest guarantee of survival. Some experts see him as trying to shape the diplomacy as an arms reduction negotiation between nuclear states rather than talks that would culminate in a surrender of his nuclear program.


Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/pompeo-downplays-possibility-of-summit-with-north-korea-1.637704?fbclid=IwAR2b6jCFob1vQ7nGz45aG04g5OCjqBflk1cWAmR-j6Y6MF1qNoZgKJ17vXE

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Stars & Stripes – Number of coronavirus-infected US troops arriving in South Korea mounts

Service members and families exit the Patriot Express after arriving at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020. MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: July 16, 2020

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The number of coronavirus-infected American service members traveling to South Korea from the United States mounted with 14 new cases over the past week, the military said Thursday.

South Korea has expressed concern over the growing numbers, although U.S. Forces Korea insists that mandatory testing and two-week quarantine procedures have helped contain the problem.

A service member receives a coronavirus test kit within hours of arriving at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Tuesday, July 14, 2020.MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

“None of the arrivals have interacted with anyone residing in the local community due to USFK’s aggressive preventative control measures,” the command said.

Nine troops and two dependents tested positive after landing at Osan Air Base on government-chartered flights between July 11-15, USFK said in a press release.

Three other service members tested positive after arriving on separate commercial flights on July 11 and 13, it said.

“All individuals were tested prior to entering quarantine, and have since been transferred to an isolation facility designated for confirmed COVID-19 cases on either Camp Humphreys or Osan Air Base,” it added.

The shuttle buses that carried the affected troops to quarantine barracks and the rooms they occupied all had been disinfected, it said.

The report raised to 88 the total number of cases affiliated with USFK.

The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said authorities were working with the U.S. to prevent the virus from spreading.

“We’re keeping an eye on it at present,” the agency told Stars and Stripes.

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Twitter: @kimgamel


Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/number-of-coronavirus-infected-us-troops-arriving-in-south-korea-mounts-1.637711?fbclid=IwAR1D0yATqYnWAjL1VNmkxnwKyj-odbLN34iQVvR6ZHvGTIX8XOTda9riRps

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Yonhap – Korean War hero Paik laid to rest

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL/DAEJEON, July 15 (Yonhap) — South Korea held a funeral service Wednesday for Paik Sun-yup, a legendary Korean War hero credited with saving the country from falling under the control of North Korea, with the Army chief vowing to firmly defend the country that Paik saved with “blood, sweat and tears.”

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Robert Abrams also attended the funeral service held at Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul, lauding Paik as “a patriot, a soldier’s soldier and one of the founding fathers of our ironclad alliance” between the two countries.

“Farewell friend and rest in peace,” Abrams said.

Also in attendance were Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Park Han-ki and politicians from the ruling and opposition parties. The funeral, presided over by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Suh Wook, was held on a small scale due to coronavirus concerns.

“The general, with his spirit and body, showed what true patriotism is. He was the symbol of South Korean Army and the symbol of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” Suh said. “We will do our best to firmly defend the Republic of Korea that the general, together with comrades, defended with blood, sweat and tears.”

The funeral for Paik Sun-yup, South Korea's best-known Korean War hero, is under way at Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul on July 15, 2020. Paik died on July 10 at age 99. (Yonhap)

The funeral for Paik Sun-yup, South Korea’s best-known Korean War hero, is under way at Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul on July 15, 2020. Paik died on July 10 at age 99. (Yonhap)

An honor guard carries the coffin of late Korean War hero Paik Sun-yup at the National Cemetery in the central city of Daejeon for his burial on July 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

Paik, South Korea’s first four-star general, died Friday at age 99.

He is credited with leading key battles during the 1950-53 war, including the battle of Dabudong, or Tabudong, in which his unit successfully stopped invading North Korean troops from moving further south in the southeastern region of Dabudong until U.S.-led U.N. forces arrived in the early months of the war.

That battle prevented the North from taking over the entire Korean Peninsula at the last minute and provided South Korean and U.N. forces with a chance to push back. The war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula still technically at war.

Clad in a combat uniform similar to one he wore during the war, Paik’s body was buried at the National Cemetery in the central city of Daejeon.

Soils collected from eight former Korean War battlefields were scattered over the coffin during the burial ceremony that was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris, Abrams and former military leaders.

Near the cemetery, civic groups for and against his burial at the site held rallies. Police dispatched hundreds of officers to prevent clashes.

Supporters of Paik blasted the government’s decision to bury him at the Daejeon cemetery, arguing that he should be buried at Seoul National Cemetery, where former presidents, war heroes and other top patriots are laid to rest.

Opponents say Paik doesn’t deserve burial at any national cemetery, let alone the Seoul cemetery, citing records he served in a pro-Japanese military force and cracked down on Korean guerilla forces fighting for independence from Japan.

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Yonhap – USFK commander pays tribute to late war hero Paik

Abrams told members of Paik’s family that the late general “was at the heart and soul of the ROK-U.S. alliance and we are deeply grateful for his service.”

JCS Chairman Park also expressed condolences.

“Carrying on the general’s strict military spirit and dedication to the country and the military, we will maintain a watertight military readiness posture and do our best to fulfill our mission to protect the country and the people,” Park told reporters at the mortuary.

Korean War hero Gen. Paik Sun-yup dies at 100, controversy over burial at national cemetery

Paik, South Korea’s first four-star general and most renowned war hero, died Friday at age 99. He is credited for bravely leading key battles during the 1950-53 war and contributing greatly to the modernization of South Korea’s armed forces.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, and other key figures from the political and industrial circles also paid tribute to the late general.

Former USFK commanders also offered their condolences over Paik’s death.

“The passing of General and Ambassador Paik Sun-yup marks the closing of the first 70 years of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, while his life and contributions to the Alliance serve as a great role model for the future of this close and invaluable relationship,” Walter Sharp, who commanded the USFK from 2008 to 2011, said.

John Tilelli, who headed USFK from 1996 to 1999, said Paik was a “soldier’s soldier” and that it is “difficult to put into words the great loss of someone who has meant so much to all of us who served in The Republic of Korea and to me personally.”

“He will be greatly missed and has left a legacy not only for the Korean People but for the United States Military,” James Thurman, USFK commander from 2011 to 2013, said.

Paik’s body will be buried at the national cemetery in the central city of Daejeon on Wednesday.

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Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200713007152325?section=national/defense

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Yonhap – S. Korea seeks to request pre-departure COVID-19 tests for incoming USFK members

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering requesting the United States to have its service members and related individuals go through coronavirus testing before their departure for the South amid growing concerns over a surge in imported cases, officials said Tuesday.

This month alone, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) reported a total of 38 COVID-19 patients, including 11 cases on Monday, all of whom tested positive upon arrival or during their mandatory two-week quarantine period after arrival.

“Residents in Pyeongtaek are anxious about the recent uptrend, and some call for a measure that requires USFK-affiliated people to undergo a virus test before leaving their home country,” an official said. Pyeongtaek is where USFK headquarters are located.

“So the city government asked the Gyeonggi government and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) to make such a recommendation to the U.S. side, if not making it obligatory,” he added.

Until Monday, the city reported a total of 97 COVID-19 patients, and 60 of them are USFK-related individuals. Across the nation, the total COVID-19 caseload among USFK members stood at 74.

USFK has implemented aggressive measures to stop the spread of the virus, but there has been a growing call for tougher entry procedures for newly assigned service members, another official said.

Currently, foreign arrivals from four high-risk countries — Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — are required to submit health certificates proving they have tested negative for COVID-19. Health authorities said more could be subject to the requirement according to the virus trend down the road.

“Now is USFK’s troop rotation season and the South Korean and the U.S. authorities are working closely on the virus issue,” another government official said.

In order to relieve anxiety among citizens, the government will also cooperate further with the U.S. military to promote its stringent preventive measures, he added.

All USFK-affiliated individuals arriving in South Korea are required to undergo the virus test and are quarantined for 14 days. Medical personnel administer a second test prior to their release.

“The last organic USFK positive case that originated from on-peninsula was mid-April,” USFK spokesperson Col. Lee Peters said. “The majority of our recently confirmed cases have been asymptomatic and we are catching them on their first test and they are immediately going into isolation after spending only 1-2 days in quarantine.”

The official did not elaborate on further steps to reduce the number of patients among newly assigned members, while noting that the South Korean authorities “are extremely satisfied with our aggressive approach to identifying, containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

U.S. officers wait for American service personnel to arrive at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

U.S. officers wait for American service personnel to arrive at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

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Stars & Stripes – Yongsan Garrison’s new commander has a long history on the Korean Peninsula

Accepting the colors, Col. Ellis Baker assumes command of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey during a ceremony inside Collier Community Fitness Center at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Friday, July 10, 2020. MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Col. Monica Washington turned over responsibility Friday for this steadily shrinking garrison to a successor with a long history in South Korea.

Once the most populous U.S. military installation in the country, Yongsan, in the heart of the capital city, Seoul, was headquarters for major commands – U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Eighth Army.

Those numbers dwindled during Washington’s two-year tenure, and the commands moved 55 miles south to Camp Humphreys as part of an $11 billion relocation program.

“Her area of responsibility began in 2018 in support of a population of approximately 25,000 and decreased to 13,000 in 2020,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel Christian, the Eighth Army’s deputy commanding general for sustainment.

The Yongsan commander’s responsibility includes camps beyond the city, including training areas near the Demilitarized Zone, the border with North Korea just 28 miles away.

The continuing process of shutting down the installation now falls to Col. Ellis Baker, a Mount Olive, N.C., native with a string of previous assignments on the peninsula. Between 1998 and 2019, he was posted to Humphreys, Camp Carroll, Camp Stanley, Camp Casey and Yongsan.

“The alliance [between the U.S. and South Korea] is the No. 1 important thing we are doing,” Baker said during the change-of-command ceremony. “This strategic opportunity the Army has given me and my family to help foster that as we give back the historic site to [South Korea] and all the significance that entails as we set conditions for our shared future is something that I look forward to greatly.”

He was accompanied Friday by his spouse, Jinhwa Lee, and their 5-month-old daughter.

“This is my second home,” Baker said, “I do love Korea.”

The handover, with coronavirus safety measures included, took place at the Collier Community Fitness Center on Yongsan.

The Army is steadily shutting down services throughout the garrison in preparation for returning the property to the South Korean government.

Yongsan continues to support thousands of service members, Defense Department civilians, U.S. Embassy staff, contractors, retirees and their family members.

Washington is headed for the Pentagon to serve as executive officer for the Army assistant chief of staff, G9, Installations.

“Today is a day of mixed emotions,” she said during the ceremony. “One part of me is excited about the next step in my journey, while a big part of me wants to stay and continue our efforts to return the historic Yongsan to [South Korea].”

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Article: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/yongsan-garrison-s-new-commander-has-a-long-history-on-the-korean-peninsula-1.636992?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2007.13.20&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

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A Tribute to General and Ambassador Paik, Sun-yup

The Immeasurable Importance of General and Ambassador Paik, Sun-yup

July 10, 2020

Image

Former CFC Commanders and Deputy Commanders met legendary Gen. (Ret.) Paik, Sun Yup. As part of the 1st Former CFC Commander/Deputy Commander Forum in Seoul on Nov 14, 2019, Generals Kwon, Scaparrotti, Tilelli, Sharp, Thurman, and Jung visited the 99 year old General Paik who was the first ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ROK Ambassador to several countries, and an infrastructure pioneer. General Paik helped build the ROK-U.S. Alliance into one of the most important in the world.


The passing of General and Ambassador Paik, Sun-yup marks the closing of the first 70 years of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, while his life and contributions to the Alliance serve as a great role model for the future of this close and invaluable relationship.  General Paik’s role in defending South Korea against North Korea starting on June 25, 1950 is of historic importance to both South Korea and the United States.  He served as the division commander of the 1st ROK Infantry Division which took the brunt of North Korea’s surprise attack, helped defend the Pusan Perimeter, and led the fight into Pyongyang on October 19, 1950.  Later as the first ROK Army Chief of Staff and first ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he worked to build up the post-war ROK military.

After retiring from the ROK military as the country’s first four-star general, he continued in public service as Ambassador to Taiwan, Canada, France, and several other countries.  Then he served as ROK Minister of Transportation and launched the construction of the Seoul Subway system.  He was also instrumental in the construction of the War Memorial of Korea.

The distinguished and very long history of General Paik’s public service is truly immeasurable and unequaled.

His life serves as an example for future generations to care about the ROK-U.S. Alliance, to work for the Alliance, and to do so with integrity, hard work, and understanding.  The members of KDVA are very honored to have known this great man.  General (Retired) John Tilelli, the former Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Command, captured the essence of General Paik and his legacy for the ROK-U.S. Alliance, “General Paik’s legend goes far beyond his military contributions and battlefield heroics.  When I commanded in Korea from 1996 to 1999, his was the voice I sought and heard when we faced challenging situations because he understood both the ROK and U.S. sides, and how we needed to work together.  I have lost a most significant friend and mentor in my life, and my heart goes out to his family, the people of South Korea, and those of us who care and love the ROK-U.S. Alliance.  He was a National Hero of the Republic of Korea.”

KDVA will carry on General Paik’s legacy and lifetime of work for the Alliance in 2020 and well into the next several generations of people who care for and support the great Alliance.

ImagePaik Sun-yup poses in front of a makeshift barracks in June 1952 when he served as commander of the 2nd Corps.

ImageRetired Republic of Korea Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup received the honorary commander title August 2013.

ImagePaik Sun-yup poses in front of a makeshift barracks in June 1952 when he served as commander of the 2nd Corps.

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