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More stray rounds found outside US live-fire range near N. Korean border

A shot of the DMZ when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo were there, October 2017. (DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

More than 10 stray rounds from an Army training area have been found at a South Korean base near the Demilitarized Zone, according to officials from the country’s defense ministry.

The bullets, which the officials say are .50-caliber rounds, were discovered at a small base in Pocheon, just a few miles from Rodriguez Live Fire Range – a 3,390-acre U.S. complex near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. A joint investigation into the incident between the defense ministry and the U.S. military was underway on Friday.

8th Army spokeswoman Christina Wright confirmed the investigation to Stars and Stripes in an email Thursday, but said no other information was available.

Last month, the 8th Army hosted a town-hall meeting in Pocheon to address a bullet fired from Rodriguez that was found inside a local home in November. It was the third incident, including a fire, at the range that year.

Then-8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal said new safety procedures were in the works; however, the command has yet to provide details about those measures.

Lee Kil Yun, a local resident who serves as chief of the Pocheon Live-fire Range Countermeasure Committee, said Friday that his group plans to meet Monday on Mount Bulmu, which overlooks the training range, to prevent units from firing unless their concerns are addressed by the South Korean government.

“The government has been treating these incidents too lightly,” said Choi Myungsoon, a group member from Yami-ri. “So, we’ll be asking the prime minister to have face-to-face talks with us. We can’t trust [the government] unless the prime minister or president comes and talks with us.”

Such incidents have been on the decline over the past few years, according to statistics obtained last month from Pocheon’s city hall. Wednesday’s stray round was the first of 2018.

Rodriguez Live Fire Range is the Army’s premier training site on the Korean Peninsula and one of the few places where troops have space to maneuver and train with live munitions.


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