A look at Humphreys

Topics Covered

Where is Camp Humphreys?

The Relocation

Quick Facts

Thoughts

Humphreys logo

Where is Camp Humphreys?

Camp Humphreys is located in the city of Pyeongtaek on the east side of the Korean peninsula. Pyeongtaek received the status of city in 1986 thanks to its international sea port and rail lines that connect Seoul to the southern peninsula. The city center of Pyeongtaek is about 15-20 minutes away from Camp Humphreys, which is important to note when finding the DMV or City Hall. Even with its 35,000km2 of land, Pyeongtaek uses about 15,000 of it for agriculture. Super O’ning is the main distributor of Pyeongtaek’s agricultural products and you’ll see their operating plants everywhere.

Pyeongtaek_logo

Pyeongtaek City Logo

The population of Pyeongtaek is similar to Miami’s at a rough estimate of 450,000 but you will never hear a Korean say it is a big city. Every single native that I have spoken to disdainfully exclaims how small Pyeongtaek is and that it’s just a small farm town. I think the farm cow town where I grew up in Upstate New York would choke on the milk in their cereal bowls to hear that Miami is a small town. All 5,000 of them.

It’s a bit misleading to say that Camp Humphreys is in Pyeongtaek City when it’s truly at the southern outskirts next to the small town of Paengseong. Pyeongtaek itself is a sprawling metropolis and along with its rice paddies it covers 35,000km2. By Comparison, New York City and its five boroughs only cover 1,200km2. Before we can figure out where Humphreys is located, here is a quick reference on administrative divisions of municipalities in South Korea.

-do      Province
-si       (pronounced ‘she’)- City
-eup    Town
-tong  urban village
-ri        rural village

To learn more about Korea’s administrative divisions, read more at the Wiki Page.

A municipality’s designation is added to the end of its name so Camp Humphreys general location is:

Gyeonggi-do, Pyeongtaek-si,
Paengseong-eup, Anjeong-ri

The community of Anjeong is a small community within the town of Paengseong, whose population is much more on par with my hometown. The population density is much higher though and I can walk through Anjeong in about 15 minutes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot here, the town of Paengseong is jam packed with restaurants, bars, grocery stores and shops. Right outside of the walk-in gate is a strip of shops called The Ville which have many bars and restaurants targeting single soldiers. The Ville and the entire town of Paengseong are preparing for major renovations in the next few years as Humphreys and Yongsan get ready for The Relocation.

Super O'ning

The ‘O’ Represents a Dinner Plate. All Trademarks to the Super O’ning company.

The Relocation

What is The Relocation? In 2004, the Republic of South Korea (ROK) and the US government came to an agreement to consolidate over 100 US bases, including Yongsan, to the south of Seoul and the Han River. This has Camp Humphrey’s poised to be the largest American base in the Pacific and the construction plans for Camp Humphreys is impressive. The base acquired 24 acres of rice paddies and began the arduous task of raising the land 3 Meters above sea level. During our newcomer’s brief, the Deputy Colonel said that it was the equivalent of filling the Yankee Stadium with dirt 50 times. With this expansion, Camp Humphreys is building gorgeous high rise housing towers which can hold 1,400 families and a PX and Commissary that will have, as the Deputy Colonel said, “the walking footprint of the Pentagon.”

The deadline for this massive endeavor was to be 2016 but by the close of 2015 the base was only 85% complete. There is a lot of hope that the work will be done by 2017. Meanwhile, Humphrey garrison is still granting its limited Command Sponsorship billets and Yongsan continues to anticipate The Relocation. I recently attended a meeting at the Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation (PIEF) where city council members and the merchant’s association asked spouses of military soldiers what they wanted out of the little town of Paengseong. The meeting was extremely productive and later that afternoon a number of representatives from businesses and restaurants in Seoul came to discuss The Relocation and how to renovate the area to accommodate the new population in the coming year. When The Relocation is complete, The Humphrey’s garrison will increase its manpower from 11,000 personnel to a whopping 42,000.

Until the construction and The Relocation are complete, soldiers and their families should be prepared for this assignment to feel like a deployment. The hours are long, the demands are high and the paperwork load never ends.

Quick Facts

– Curfew is 1AM-5am for all service members to be back onpost. Offpost SMs must be in their residence by 1am. Soldiers on recreational pass or leave while in the Korean peninsula must be at their hotel or dwelling by 1am. The only exceptions to the curfew are soldiers on official orders. Read the command policy letter here.

– Single Soldiers and Geographical Bachelors may not own a POV on the peninsula. Soldiers and their Command Sponsored family members may ship and register one vehicle to the peninsula. Additional vehicles or Non-command sponsored families will need an exception to policy letter. There are taxes and shuttle buses available on Camp Humphreys. In South Korea, cars drive on the right side of the road like in the United States.

– BOSS, MWR and CYS host multiple trips, with transportation, for the Korean peninsula every month. There is always something to do on the weekend with friends and family.

– South Korea is a 1 year tour for single soldiers and geographical bachelors. Soldiers who bring their families have a 2 year tour. Soldiers may extend for an extra year where they may receive monetary recompense.

– Pet policies for South Korea are strict and expensive. Make an informed decision before bringing pets.

– Onpost and offpost housing are primarily apartments or villas, 3-5 story buildings with single floor apartments. With the construction, there is a good chance that new families will live offpost. There are very few options for backyards and garages.

– Families will receive a no-fee Passport for travel between South Korea and the US. A no-fee passport cannot be used to enter other countries for recreational travel. For any international vacations, have a tourist passport ready.

– Childcare and after school care is limited on post and is prioritized by need. There are many wonderful offpost options.

– Family members will need vaccinations before coming to South Korea. We received Japanese Encephalitis (Two doses a month apart), Typhoid and Hepatitis A.

– Camp Humphreys has a miniature golf course, water park and many dining options outside of the PX food court.

– The new commissary has not been built and the old commissary is limited. With the poultry embargo, there are few options for raw chicken. There are many markets and grocery stores a few minutes from base that have a lot more options and are cheaper.

Source: USAG MWR

Source: USAG MWR

Thoughts

I look at Camp Humphrey’s like the best 2-year deployment my husband has ever had. He gets to come home to his family every night, go on vacations to exotic locations (that are only an hour away by car) and there are no mortars flying over his head everyday. While he works his tail off, the boys and I are enjoying a 2-year vacation with homeschool opportunities and cultural experiences abound. I am looking forward to my two years here and we are going to have to decide if we want to do a third. Here’s hoping!

~Sig

Last Updated April 18, 2016

 

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