The curfew is being lifted for 90 days by Army Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of all troops on the peninsula, from June 17 to Sep. 17.
The suspension will serve as an evaluation period to assess whether the curfew can be lifted permanently. It is an opportunity to demonstrate U.S. troops’ ability to maintain good order and discipline at all times and under all conditions, the command said in a statement this weekend.
Part of the reason for testing a lift of the curfew is to increase the quality of life for troops stationed in South Korea.
“South Korea is an assignment of choice with countless regional and cultural opportunities for assigned personnel. The intent of the curfew suspension is to provide [U.S. Forces-Korea] personnel greater access to all Korea has to offer,” Col. Jonathan Doyle, U.S. Forces-Korea provost marshal, said.
“Our professional service members will act in accordance with our standards of conduct and Korean laws at all times," Doyle added.
At the end of the evaluation period, Abrams will determine whether to continue the curfew suspension evaluation period, maintain, or rescind the off-installation curfew, the command said.
Behavior, morale and readiness factors will be assessed at the end of the 90-day period.
Any peace deal with North Korea is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the 23,000 U.S. troops deployed on the peninsula.
Normally, the curfew lasts from 1-5 a.m. and requires troops to remain on base, in their residences or hotel rooms during those hours, according to the General Order Regarding Off-Installation Curfew posted to the command’s website.
The curfew is sometimes referred to as a “readiness call," as its restrictions are often framed as a way to ensure troops are able to conduct their duties on the peninsula each day.
“We are a professional military charged with the defense of the Korean Peninsula; military readiness remains a top priority for the command," Doyle said.
The curfew was first imposed in the early 2000s, but was temporarily relaxed in 2010. After public outcry arose in 2011 over alleged crimes, such as rape, by American forces, the curfew was re-instituted.
Doyle said in the U.S. Forces-Korea statement that while the command intends to allow Americans more opportunity to enjoy their stay on the peninsula, each service member is responsible for serving as an ambassador of the United States.
U.S. troops are required to act in accordance with standards of conduct and Korean law, the command said.
“These actions will serve as a demonstration to the ROK people that we will safeguard the vital relationships while maintaining the ironclad Alliance,” the command statement reads.