U.S. SOFA Korea not Reciprocal

It has been noted by my friend Brendon over at Korea Law Blog that:

The Korea Times reports that in August Korean aircrews and planes will be training at Nellis AFB, Nevada for the first time. As for me, I am halfway hoping that one of the Korean military members gets into a traffic accident, or even flips out and commits some sort of crime. We are talking about servicemembers on temporary duty, so drunk driving seems the best bet.

So why am I rooting for some kind of misfortune? It’s not because I dislike Koreans, or any members of the aircrews personally. It’s because some kind of a legal entanglement in the Nevada desert would be a teachable moment for the Korean public about the reciprocal nature of the US-Republic of Korea Status of Forces Agreement, a bilateral treaty the “unfairness” of which is an article of faith among the populace protected by US Forces Korea.


I think Brendon is getting bilateral confused with reciprocal. The U.S. Status of Forces Agreement Korea is an agreement that concerns the status of United States military personnel (and others including dependents) stationed in Korea. It is not a reciprocal agreement. Bilateral means, in general, binding on both sides. It does not mean all clauses are binding on both sides.


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