Amendment to the Korean Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act 2019

The Amendment to the Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act of Korea was proposed by the Korean Chair of the National Defense Committee on April 4, 2019 and shall become effective in the autumn of 2019. The Amendment stipulates the extension of the scope of “protection zones” within a military base or installation in Korea and amends the process to remove the status as a “protection zone” with the return of the concerning military base or installation to the Korean government.

Increasing the Scope of the Protected Zones in a Military Base or Installation in the Republic of Korea

The purpose of the aforementioned Act is to “…to contribute to the national security by providing for matters necessary for the protection of military bases and installations and smooth conduct of military operations.“ To the term “military installations” under the amendment adds in Art. 2: Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act “research institutions, test sites, and test facilities for military purposes.” The current Act includes only “…battle positions, obstacles for military use, explosives-related facilities, shooting ranges, training grounds, military telecommunications equipment and other installations reserved directly for military use.” Thus, the revised Act increases the scope of application of the law to, also, research and test sites/facilities.

Reclassification of “Protection Zone” by Returning the Military Base or Installation to the Korean Government

According to Art. 4 (1): Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act “The Minister of National Defense may designate protection zones, etc. according via a proposal . . . of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff […], or modify or cancel such designation.” With the enforcement of the Amendment to the aforementioned Act, Art. 4 (3) shall additionally regulate the end of the status as a “protection zone” by returning the military base or installation to the Korean government. If the United States Forces Korea has its military base in the Republic of Korea, this area is designated as “protection zone.” If the United States Force Korea returns a military base to the government of the Republic of Korea, this former military based ceases to be designated as a “protection zone” as soon as the process of the return to the Korean government is executed. However, this shall not apply, if a “protection zone” is planned, prior to turnover, if under the broadened scope under the amended Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act (Art 5 (1)a and (2) of the Protection of Military Bases and Installations Act of Korea).

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