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Story Range

Story Range is located two miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. The range has been used for about 30 years. U.S. forces use Story Range about 75 percent of the time, with South Korean soldiers using the balance. The range is used for mortar, grenade, mine, anti-tank missile and artillery practice. Story Range is the smallest impact area used by the US Army. Multiple targets are in a 500m X 500m area less than 1 km from the southern edge of the DMZ.

South Korean farmers see the range as valuable soil, frequently planting crops near the range, despite warnings to stay away. The range is a typical example of how South Korea's population has encroached on once-rural training areas.

In 1996 and 1998, unexploded ordnance killed two Korean civilians who had entered the range to look for scrap metal. Unexploded munitions and live-fire exercises make the area dangerous. Unexploded ordnance in that area presents a very real and significant danger to anyone walking in the impact area. This danger is greatly amplified if someone is planting or harvesting crops.

The South Korean Army supervises farming. Farmers must have a pass to cross any of the three bridges, guarded by South Korean soldiers, leading to the range. Normally, range control officials and Army explosive ordnance disposal teams would clear munitions from the impact area annually. But the impact area at Story Range is swampy, and teams can only look for duds on the surface. Additionally, the entire area just south of the DMZ is rife with mines. Many are newer mines laid by the South Korean Army as part of the DMZ defense. But there are unmarked mine fields, and monsoon rains shift mines around. Korean contractors and 8th Army personnel have uncovered about 30 mines while putting in fence posts.

In June 2001, USFK and the South Korean Defense Ministry agreed to put a fence around the range by January 2004. USFK lobbied the South Korean government to allow fencing of the entire range more quickly so no one is hurt. To protect the farmers, USFK has erected a three-strand barbed wire fence with metal gates and posted danger signs, in English and Korean, to clearly mark the impact area. USFK erected a barbed-wire fence after farmers ignored warning signs in English and Korean to stay out of the impact area. The barbed-wire fence angered farmers, but they continued in 2001 to raise crops on other sections of the range.

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