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Release No: 769-00
December 28, 2000

U.S., Korea Complete Negotiations on Status of Forces

The following statement was released today at a joint press conference in Seoul, Korea:

On Dec. 28, 2000, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the U.S. governments completed negotiations to revise the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). ROK chief delegate Song Min-soon, Director General for North American Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and his U.S. counterpart, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific Affairs, Frederick Smith, have agreed upon and initialed the revised Agreement.

Both governments agreed that this SOFA revision reflects the will of President Kim Dae Jung and President Clinton and the people of both nations to enhance U.S. - ROK security cooperation in a mature and balanced manner.

Both governments expressed the mutual understanding that this SOFA revision reflects both nations' interests in a wide range of fields, including criminal jurisdiction, environment, labor, quarantine regulations, facilities and areas, non-appropriated fund facilities, and civil proceedings. The revision will, in the long term, contribute to maintaining a stable environment for U.S. troops stationed in the ROK and to further enhancing the alliance between the ROK and the United States.

The major contents of this revision are as follows:

On major crimes, both sides shall advance the timing of transferring the accused SOFA personnel to Korean authorities from the current "upon completion of all judicial proceedings" to "at the time of indictment." If the Korean police arrest someone for an egregious crime, such as murder or rape, the Korean police will have the right to maintain custody. The Korean government agreed to the protection of the rights of the accused SOFA personnel.

A provision on environmental protection is included in the SOFA revision, stating that the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Korea will respect Korean environmental laws and regulations, and Korea will consider the safety of SOFA personnel. Based on this provision, both sides shall sign a memorandum of special understandings that includes cooperative measures for environmental protection.

Both sides shall shorten the cooling-off period of labor disputes by Koreans employed by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), enhance regulations governing stable employment, and allow qualified SOFA dependents to work in the ROK.

Joint inspections of animals, plant and their products imported for USFK will be conducted in accordance with procedures to be established.

Prior to constructing facilities within U.S. military bases, the U.S. government shall consult with the ROK government. The two sides will jointly survey existing facilities and areas in order to return facilities and areas no longer needed for use by USFK.

Both sides shall set up a necessary procedure for serving legal documents issued by local courts on SOFA personnel, and for executing rulings issued by those courts.

Both sides shall establish a new procedure for controlling access by Koreans to U.S. facilities such as U.S. military clubs and golf courses.

This SOFA revision shall be incorporated through changes in the SOFA text, Agreed Minutes, Understandings on Implementation and Agreed Views. Separate documents, such as a memorandum of special understandings on environmental protection, will also be signed. Both sides will formally sign the SOFA revision when both governments' domestic procedures are completed.

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