As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District (FED) remembers the accomplishments of its past, the District also takes a few moments to learn about the new mission of an important part of its history, the former FED headquarters Dongdaemun compound.
Earlier in June, members of the District visited the former FED compound to pay homage to the District’s 64-year history and learn about the compound’s new mission as an agent in the fight against COVID-19.
The former FED headquarters, comprised of 42,096 square meters of land, located in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea, was the District’s home for sixty years, from 1957 to 2019. The compound was just three blocks from the East Gate, known as Dongdaemun, which served as one of the entry points to a walled-off ancient Seoul.
Over six decades, the District and the area surrounding the Dongdaemun compound changed, but the original buildings, which underwent renovations and upgrades over the years, remained the same. As part of the Yongsan Relocation Plan, FED headquarters began its move from the Dongdaemun compound to its present location in USAG Humphreys, Pyeongtaek in 2018.
While the compound may not house administrative offices and U.S. government personnel anymore, the location hosts a wholly different and important mission as part of the Republic of Korea National Medical Center (NMC).
The former FED headquarters is situated directly across from the NMC, which is responsible for treating the most severe cases of COVID-19, and opened as the Central Infectious Disease Hospital and COVID-19 Isolation Unit on Jan. 18, 2021.
The building that FED headquarters previously occupied now serves as the NMC’s main vaccination site. The first floor of the building, where the Programs and Project Management Division was located, was transformed and now serves as vaccination rooms. About 400-500 people are vaccinated daily at the facility. The second floor, where the Command group offices were previously located, is being used as office space.
Vaccinations that are currently offered at the NMC are made by Jansen and Pfizer. These vaccines are stored in refrigeration in the building where the Legal Office formerly occupied. The former Contracting Division building and Thomas J. Davis, Inc./Jung Il Associated (TJD) building are operating as isolation and quarantine facilities.
“About 30 percent of the compound is currently in use, and there are plans to develop the area with a laboratory to study infectious disease and more technology to study the virus,” said Han Hee-jae, NMC Communication Planning Team. “After the environment surveys, the rest of the compound will begin renovation. The NMC is in close consultation with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Welfare.”
The demand for medical centers specialized in infectious diseases has been around since the 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, which was the largest outbreak of the virus outside of the Arabian peninsula. With the Central Infectious Disease Hospital open and in operation on the former FED compound, the NMC will develop into the main pillar of public healthcare facilities to fight against outbreaks of pandemic diseases within the Republic of Korea.