Sunday, May 21, 2006

No golf course in Pyongtaek, please.

I think I've made it clear that I am a strong supporter of USFK's move from Yongsan to Pyongtaek, but at the same time I really do feel for those people being given no choice but to leave their family property to make room for the new base in Taech'uri [Daechu-ri] (though I have no sympathy for the chinbo "progressives" who are using the farming families to whip up support for their pro-Pyongyang cause).

When I first heard that one of the planned facilities for Pyongtaek may be a golf course, my jaw just about hit the floor. After the huge struggle ensuing to obtain the land, what will be remembered—and repeatedly evoked by the "progressives"—is that hapless farmers were kicked off their ancestral land so stuffy officers could play a few rounds of golf in the third most densely populated country in the world.

It's one thing to make room for training grounds, barracks, schools, even movie theaters and bowling alleys. After all, these are a part of normal everyday life for military and their families (the schools and recreation facilities are a part of everyday life for all families), but a golf course is an exclusivist and elitist facility that is about the worst common use of open space imaginable. Particularly in a place lacking much open space in the first place.

Not just in Korea, but all across the world, and particularly in Asia, the environmental damage and economic waste associated with building golf courses is a hot topic. Why engender many years of testy relations just for the ease of playing nine or eighteen holes? If it's really that important, work out a way to keep USFK's golf course at Camp K16 in Songnam open and make the Pyongtaek base a little smaller (or add other more needed facilities).

This should be a no-brainer to the USFK brass, since it's not like this issue has not come up before. Back when the first Yongsan move was announced for 1996 but then thwarted by rising land prices in the area speculated for the move, USFK decided to at least give up the golf course it had in central Seoul, which is now Yongsan Family Park and the site of the National Museum. All that remains inside the garrison is the driving range (which is about the most Pyongtaek really needs), to which has been added a miniature golf course.

USFK did the right thing then, and it should do the right thing now. Save everyone a whole lot of grief later on and give up the golf course idea, if in fact it is in the works.

[I would appreciate any information from my readers who are in the know about the development of such plans. And please, if you agree with me, please feel free to link to this post or pass it on to people who could do something about this.]

1 comment:

  1. Jim, I thank you for your comment, and I'll respond more a bit later, but for now I don't think the benefits of that particular entity justify the many negatives attached.

    And what I said about eminent domain at the end of this post applies in this case as well.

    Kicking farmers off their land to build a golf course wouldn't sit well anywhere. There are many more recreational activities that don't gobble up that much land. Choose one of those.

    More to come...


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