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(LEAD) Gov't holds meeting with residents over USFK Pocheon live-fire range issues

National 14:00 July 08, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead as meeting took place; ADDS more details, comments in para 4-6)

SEOUL, July 8 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry held a meeting with residents near a U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) firing range in the northern city of Pocheon Wednesday in an effort to explore ways to address their safety concerns and other complaints, officials said.

Those residing near the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Pocheon, some 45 kilometers north of Seoul, have long complained about noise, unexploded ordnances and other damage, as firing drills have taken place throughout the year.

In order to improve the situation and compensate for their sufferings, the government has been pushing for diverse projects, such as the construction of a separate road for direct access to the camp and welfare facilities, and has held a regular meeting with local residents.

During Wednesday's session, the government briefed the people on major ongoing support programs and future plans and listened to residents' opinions, the ministry said.

Around 40 officials and local residents, including Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min and Pocheon Major Park Youn-kook, attended the meeting, it added.

"Based upon results of the meeting, we will continue consultations with USFK and related ministries so as to implement related projects without a hitch," the ministry said in a release.

Located near the inter-Korean border, the 13.2 million-square-meter complex, also known as the Yeongpyeong range, is one of the few live-fire training facilities for the U.S. military in South Korea.

In the wake of public outrage over a series of stray round incidents, USFK in 2018 enhanced safety features of the range, such as through the improvement of ricochet beams and the adjustment of targets in various locations.

This file photo taken on April 4, 2016, and provided by the Pocheon city government shows a truck blocking the entrance of the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, in protest over noise pollution. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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