Defense ministry to lift record amount of military protection zones

The defense ministry said Monday it plans to lift a record amount of area zoned off for military facility operations in the coming days, clearing them for use and development by the public. The ministry has regularly lifted military facility protection zones that are no longer considered necessary to address complaints by nearby residents. Around 8 percent of South Korea's total land area is currently designated as such zones, which limit development. Under the latest plan, 339 square kilometers of the zones nationwide -- slightly more than five times the size of Manhattan -- will be lifted, marking the largest size since a relevant law was enacted in 2007, according to the ministry. With the lifting, the areas in question will be available to newly build or expand structures without having to go through consultations with the military, the ministry said. The lifted zones include 287 square km of area around military airfields in Seosan, 98 km southwest of Seoul, and six other locations, as well as 38 sq uare km of area in four border regions, such as Cheorwon County, 85 km northeast of Seoul. They also include a zone in Pyeongtaek, 60 km south of Seoul, to allow the establishment of an elementary school within the area that has faced difficulties opening due to the designation. Source: Yonhap News Agency