The curfew for U.S. military personnel here will be extended another two months, the U.S. Forces Korea chief said Tuesday, citing the need to assess the current operational environment.
According to USFK Commander General James Thurman, the curfew, originally intended to last until the beginning of this month, will be extended to Jan. 6.
The USFK said the move was a temporary force protection measure to ensure the continued mission readiness of the command.
“I firmly believe that military discipline is the foundation of mission-ready, well-trained and effective organizations,” said Thurman.
“We must maintain mission readiness and the strength of the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance.”
Many soldiers welcomed the curfew extension, saying it would keep soldiers responsible and help improve their stained image.
“Nobody around me is really that disgruntled about it,” said one U.S. soldier who declined to offer his name, as he was not authorized to comment on the matter.
“Actually people are glad, because it stops them from drinking out too late, plus it keeps them responsible.”
Thurman announced the decision after convening with service component commanders and Korean leaders.
The off-installation curfew is in effect between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. from Monday through Friday, and between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
For some, the curfew is simply a reminder of what it was like back home in U.S.
“In the states they stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. anyways, whereas in Korea they serve alcohol 24 hours a day,” said one U.S. soldier.
“It’s really about the same difference.”
The curfew was reinstated after a handful of violent crimes committed by U.S. soldiers including the high-profile rape of an 18-year-old Korean woman in her home in Dongducheon last month. The soldier was given a 10-year prison sentence, one of the harshest given to a USFK personnel by the local authorities in history.
The curfew had been lifted last year, after being in place for nine years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The U.S. has 28,500 troops stationed here primarily as a deterrent against North Korea.
By Robert Lee