The United States Forces Korea (USFK) announced on Wednesday the return of four closed military bases to the South Korean government and said that it was ready to hand over 13 additional sites.
"During this meeting, the finalized and permanent returns of Camps Eagle and Long (Wonju), parcels of Camp Market (Bupyeong), and the Shea Range parcel located at Camp Hovey (Dongducheon) completes the return of these four sites back to Korean control effective today," the USFK said.
According to the statement, this is the "biggest land return of former US sites" to South Korea since 2015, and there are another 13 more ready to be returned. They were "completely vacated and closed" by the USFK.
The returned bases were closed between 2009 and 2011. According to the Yonhap news agency, Seoul intends to continue decontaminating these four sites, as the level of soil and groundwater pollution there is critical.
The 28,500-strong USFK contingent has been present in South Korea since 1991. Scattered across the country, the military has been occupying some of the most valuable real estate in prime locations, including in Seoul. The bilateral Special Measures Agreement stipulates that the costs of stationing the troops be shared between Washington and Seoul, but the countries have drastically disagreed on how much each side should contribute.