|A little over a year ago, I got tied up with Yongsan Legacy, a nonprofit dedicated to archiving living memories of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, a massive military base in central Seoul. |
The US has been in Korea since about September 1945, occupying Yongsan which the Japanese had previously occupied. Yongsan means "Dragon Hill," and to the north of the base is the mountain we call Namsan. Seoul originally was a small walled city on the north side of that slope. Only after the last century of development has the city expanded, coming to consume Yongsan. I have found photo captions written by people living here in the 1950s who describe the area as "south of Seoul," but nowadays it's more likely to be considered part of northern Seoul. Over its history, it has had a profound impact in Korea's culture, industries, economy, etc.
In this image below, Namsan mountain is the green zone with the green triangle and 262m, its height. Below and to the left is a slightly more geometric shape, which balloons out heading to the river; all that is Yongsan Garrison. Due to national security laws, online maps censor it with fake forests. The UER LDB Map shows it as forest, but if you switch to satellite view it reveals what's actually there.
For over a decade I've been saying I won't leave Korea until Yongsan closes down, and now that process is nearing completion. I currently live just north of the base, and on July 4 I could see fireworks from my roof. For the next couple years I'm expecting it to provide increasing UE opportunities. I believe in November 2019 it will be as closed as it will ever be, and sometime after that civilians will have unrestricted access, before they close it, demolish most of it, and build a massive city park.
You'll probably see more pictures from me of this area after some embargoes end. In the meantime, there's a lot out there you can read, if you like.
Check out the Yongsan Legacy series I've been publishing in my newspaper, inviting random people, mostly former US soldiers but also dependent family members and various locals to contribute their memories of a vanishing place.
|I need to get over there and check it out ! |
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