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.