This article was written in 2000 by Green Korea United.
This bombing training site was closed in 2005 and now is waiting for the cleanup by U.S military.
Maehyang-ri villagers are being killed, being made sick, and their sources of living hood is being destroyed; it is not an exaggeration to say that the USFK’s training is more like war.
The US Air Force’s Koon-ni Range is located on Nong Island, off the coast of Maehyang-ri, Hwasong County, Kyonggi Province, a two hour trip from Seoul. For half a century, continuous bombing training has been occurring there. It was built in 1952 on over 24 million square meter of sea and land area, and is the largest US Air Force bombing training site in Asia. More than 80 percent of the sea near the village is included in the training site. USAF F-16, A-10 and OV-10 bombing planes from Near East Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, Guan, and the Philippines conduct bombing training at Maehyang-ri about 250 days a year, everyday except weekends and holiday.
A Bomb Hit the Villagers!
At 8:30 AM n May 8, 2000, a U.S. Air Force A-10 fighter, which was experiencing engine trouble, dropped six 500 pound bombs to reduce the aircraft’s weight on the United States Forces Korea (USFK) Koon-ni training range in Hwasong County, Kyinggi Province, damaging some 170 houses nearby and injuring seven residents fleeing their homes, But the residents say that this is only a small accident compared to all the mis-bombings of the past 50years.
Maehyang-ri, Villagers Suffer from Hearing Loss, Lead Poisoning and Mental Stress!
There is much damage in this village due to noise,(the extent of which is 90-100 dB). It is the main source of villagers poverty : mentally, physically and financially.
7.1% of Maehyang-ri residents suffer from hearing impairment severe enough to be classified as an “occupational disease”. The noise affects the character formation and emotional development of youth and even affects the animals. The residents have great difficulties breeding animals, chickens perish and cows produce little milk.
Green Korea United discovered that 5.37 mg/kg of arsenic, 13 times the Korean soil average was found in the bombing range. Other harmful metals which can cause future physical or mental problems were also found. Cadmium was found to be 37 times higher than average, copper (62.1 mg/kg)was 13 times higher, and lead (845mg/kg) was 145 times higher than average.
The Council of Physicians for the Humanitarian Practice of Medicine on June 4 th and 5 th conducted a study in Maehyang-ri, and revealed that Maehyang-ri residents had about 1.7 times more lead in their blood than the average among steel factory workers, who are highly susceptible to lead poisoning.
On a stress test, Maehyang-ri residents registered an average of 53.2 out of a total of 135 points, much higher than average 35.3 recorded by Chugok-ri residents. Considering that healthy people register between 31.3 and 43.5 on the test, the medical council and Maehyang-ri residents were suffering from severe stress. Maehyang-ri residents were also shown to have a greater tendency to suffer from negative emotions like anger, anxiety and fear. Professor Chu Young-su, who headed the study, said the results clearly indicate that the health of Maehyang-ri residents is at high risk.
Although residents have constantly demanded compensation for suffering and a relocation of the training range, it’s not easy to solve this problem. The United States Forces Korea (USFK) considers the issue as a problem between the villages and the Korean government. The USFR even refuses to take any responsibility for compensation by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The USFK’s position regarding the damages to residents is demonstrated in the findings of the joint Korea-US investigative group. The group said that the incident (dropping six 500 lb bombs) was part of normal training and that the pilot’s judgment was right. Whether the incident was “normal training” or not, all the villagers have been and continue to be constantly exposed to the high risks of the bomber training.
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