US military bases in South Korea on map

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US military bases in South Korea. Map of the South Korea with military bases of the United States


83 U.S. Base(s)


Despite gratitude toward Americans from Korean War, bases have caused anger because of GI crime, accidents, environmental damage, exploitative camptown prostitution.


 Fleet Activities Chinhae Navy Base in Busan, South Korea US Military Bases in South Korea


Fleet Activities Chinhae is one of the few military bases located in Korea and fully operated by the United States Navy. It is close to Busan, the second largest city in Korea, after Seoul, in the southeastern side of the country. Just like the officials describe it, the base is often referred to as the land of the morning calm. Its history has gotten it to evolve in what it is today, after changing its leadership and objectives a few times.


The primary objective of this base is to support the operations held by the United States of America and follow its foreign policy. The operations in Korea imply peacekeeping and contingency projects. Other than that, the base has the role to support all the marines and sailors on site, as well as their families. It supports the facilities and services to fulfill their necessities.


Fleet Activities Chinhae began as an Advisory Group. It was also operated by the US Navy. Its beginnings date to 1946, soon after World War Ii reached to an end. The advisory services were fully provided for Korea in a time when the country was about to split. In fact, they played a massive role during the Korean War, which began in 1950. Soon after the war ended, the base was taken through a massive improvement and restructuring process. It was fully reorganized in 1969. It became one of the main fleet detachments in the country. Three years later, its objectives were still not clear enough, therefore it was reorganized in 1972. This is when it became what it is today.


As years passed by, the place has been through a few other changes as well. Most of the units that took it over in time became tenant units in the end. At the same time, the military operations led by this base were not very significant. The peacekeeping operations in Korea go smoothly, although there is still a lot of tension floating in the air. Only time can tell when a potential new conflict is about to start.


Judging by the low military activity on site, Fleet Activities Chinhae has turned into a transportation base. The management is mostly concentrating on manufacturing, production and distribution services, whether you count particular services, products or goods.


The facilities at Fleet Activities Chinhae are varied enough to make the inhabitants feel like home. There are a wide variety of recreational spots for picnics, walks or sports. At the same time, the soldiers can always relax themselves in a community center or the several snack bars in the area. They may opt for American or Korean food. One of the most important facilities on site is the Branch Medical Clinic, one of the tenant groups belonging to the US Navy Hospital from Yokosuka.


Those who enjoy physical activities may always play court based games or go swim, while the fitness centers and gyms represent a great opportunity for the troops to stay in shape. All in all, the place is great to be deployed at.


 Kunsan Air Force Base in Gunsan, South Korea US Military Bases in South Korea


Kunsan Air Base is located on the coast of the Yellow Sea in western South Korea and falls under the command of the United States Air Force. It is one of only two United States Air Force installations in the Asian peninsula, with the other being found in Osan, nearly 6 hours away.


Located approximately 150 miles from the capital city of Seoul, Kunsan Air Base is often referred to by multiple names. The official name of the closest city is Gunsan, which the base is sometimes called. The name Kunsan is used by locals and the US Government to try and differentiate the base from the city.



The history of Kunsan Air Base dates back to the years before World War II. The base was established in 1938 by occupying Japanese forces as an operating base. After the Japanese withdrawal, the United States took over the base. It first saw a limited use in 1945, and by 1949 only a small handful of US troops remained in the area. The close of 1949 saw the complete withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula, leaving the base completely vacant.


The Korean War brought Kunsan Air Base back into action, but not in favor of NATO forces. When North Korean forces invaded the south in 1950, Kunsan Air Base was one of the first objectives to fall due its almost complete lack of defense. Within a few months US forces quickly regained the base and began stationing troops and assets at the location. The first resident of Kunsan Air Base, the 27th Fighter Escort Wing, became the main unit in 1951. The 27th Fighter Escort Wing went on to become one of the most highly decorated Air Force units of the Korean War.


With the initial hostilities of Korean turning into full scale war, the United States and its allies built a network of bases across South Korea. A majority of these were haphazardly constructed temporary bases with unpronounceable names. To make things easier for US forces, most bases were simply designated “K” and a number. Kunsan Air Base for instance, was K8 and Onan K55.


A majority of Kunsan Air Base’s history has been as a stopover point for US troops moving within or through South Korea. It has yet to play a major role in any conflicts, but due to its location near the coast it remains an important installation. Today, it remains in standby state while being periodically updated and upgraded.



Housing at Kunsan Air Base is tied directly in with individual units. Housing information will usually be provided directly by the incoming airman’s command. Incoming service members will need to fill out an application prior to arrival in order to secure base housing; however the privatized housing system in town is also available. This is usually far more expensive, so a majority of service members choose to live on post.


 Osan Air Force Base in Songtan, South Korea US Military Bases in South Korea


Osan Air Base is one of the few military bases located in South Korea, only 64 km away from Seoul. The general objective of this base is to ensure the protection of South Korea from all points of view. At the same time, this base is one of the two active facilities run by the United States of America in South Korea, under the local laws and regulations. Although there were many others out there, most of them were closed. The base is located in the northern part of the country.



The history of this base is entirely American. If other bases run by the Americans in foreign territories used to belong to the local armies, things are different for this one. It was actually built from scratch by the American forces during the Korean War. The place was easy to pick. It hosted the Battle of Bayonet Hill in 1951. After the US forces won it, they found the area excellent to set up a little base and maintain the control in the surroundings. The base construction began in 1952 and it was over by 1953. A few squadrons joined right away. In the first months of 1953, multiple bombing operations were run from this base. Since it was close to North Korea, its location was excellent. Many of these operations were decisive to establish a peaceful attitude in this part of Asia. As the war ended in the summer of 1953, the US forces decided to withdraw most of their forces, except for a single unit to ensure the defense of the area.


Over the Cold War, no particular actions were taken from this base, regardless of its proximity to Russia. It was also left like in its first days. Aside from a more advance runway, the conditions on site remained the same. This is why most of the troops were given extra wages when deployed there, to compensate for the harsh living conditions. The Pueblo Crisis raised an alarm among the authorities too. North Korea launched an attack over USS Pueblo, causing over 1000 military troops to be deployed in the area. However, the weather conditions were extreme. They had to deal with temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius and without any winter clothes or warming facilities. They were sleeping in tents, directly on the ground. Many of them returned home with more problems than before getting there. It was the time when the local authorities decided to raise enough funds to improve this base.



The 51-st Fighter Wing is the main unit hosted on site at Osan Air Base. It works in four groups and more than 20 squadrons. The base also hosts the 7-th Air Force and around 10 associate units and base agencies.



Due to the risky situations around South Korea, the troops deployed at Osan Air Base are hosted on site. There are also about 5% of them living off site. The on site facilities include everything you can think of, as things have changed since the ’50s.