Where is Camp Humphreys?
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 of Pyeongtaek is huge! It is more like a county than a city and along with its rice paddies and fields it’s an agricultural metropolis covering 35,000km2. By Comparison, New York City and its five boroughs only cover 1,200km2. So if Pyeongtaek is that big, where the heck is Humphreys?
When we first got here, we didn’t understand that Camp Humphreys is about 15-20 minutes away from the urban regions of Pyeongtaek. The $40 cab ride we took to the DMV to get the car temporary plates was unexpected. Saying Camp Humphreys is in Pyeongtaek city is like saying you’re from New York City but you’re house is in Hoboken.
The population of Pyeongtaek is similar to Miami’s at a rough estimate of 450,000 but it’s four times the size. Yet, you will never hear a Korean say it is a big city but a small farming town. Now, I grew up in a small cow town in upstate New York with a population of 5000. If anyone from my hometown heard that an agricultural city the size of Maryland was too small to live in they’d choke on their fresh milk in their oatmeal.
So, to figure out where Humphreys is located, here is a quick reference on administrative divisions of municipalities in South Korea.
-si (pronounced ‘she’)- City/County
-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:
The small community of Anjeong-ri is in the town of Paengseong-eup, whose population is much more on par with my hometown. The population density is much higher though and I can walk through Anjeong-ri 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. Read about the upcoming renovations here.
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, facilities and services are extremely limited on Camp Humphreys. There are local hospitals that accept Tricare, most realtors speak English and have all of the skills of their American counterparts and there are endless options for eating and shopping in Pyeongtaek city center. The ville outside of Camp Humphreys is very small compared to Osan but there are plans in the works for Paenseong-eup to receive its own renovations.
Here is a video of the renovation plans from the USAG Humphreys Youtube channel. As of June 2016, the construction is 89% complete. However, very few buildings are actually complete, most of them are close to completion or are empty and waiting to be utilized. One set of new housing towers are complete and occupied and old housing is still being used. The only proof of a downtown that I have seen were the Korean words I read over a very small construction area; Downtown is a long ways off.
UPDATE: It’s happening this time! The relocation is happening this summer. Read my notes from the Humphreys’ most recent town to learn more.
- Link to map of the Humphreys installation. Lodging will have these available upon arrival.
- 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.
- 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. In South Korea, cars drive on the right side of the road like in the United States.
- All service members living on-base must be at Humphreys for Curfew from 1AM-5am. Offpost service members 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 and/or have an exception to policy. Soldiers on official PCS or TDY orders are not restricted by the curfew. Read the command policy letter here.
- There is an off-limits list for off-post facilities. Know it before going out, the Humphreys smart phone app keeps an up to date list. All Tattoo and Body Peircing shops are off-limits. CCTV cameras are everywhere in Korea, it’s the main method of policing. Do not try to sneak into off-limit sites, soldiers will get caught.
- There are taxis and shuttle buses available on Camp Humphreys. Public Transportation offbase is cheap, efficient and easy to use.
- BOSS, MWR and CYS hosts multiple trips, with transportation, to explore the Korean peninsula every month. There is always something to do on the weekend with friends and family.
- Pet policies for South Korea are strict and expensive. Make an informed decision before bringing pets or acquiring pets here.
- On-base and off-base housing are primarily 3-4 room apartments or villas. A villa is a 3-5 story building with single floor apartments. With the construction still ongoing, there is a good chance that new families will live offpost. There are very few options for backyards and garages. Read about On-post and Off-post housing here.
- 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.
- Family members will receive a tourist stamp in their passport when first arriving. They will have 90 days to receive a SOFA stamp at the Osan Passenger Terminal. A SOFA stamp does not allow a family member to acquire employment in Korea.
- Childcare and after school care is limited on post and is prioritized by need. There are many wonderful offpost options.
- Family members should get 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 a few dining options outside of the PX food court like the Alaska Mining Company (Denny’s style restaurant) and the Katusa Snack Bars (Korean).
- The new commissary has not been built and the old commissary is limited. There are many markets and grocery stores a few minutes from base that have a lot more options and are cheaper.
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!
See anything need fixing? Am I missing something? Email me at SigFlipsTheTable@gmail.com or leave a comment.
Last Updated: March 23, 2017