REPUBLIC OF KOREA -- Coming to a new country can be intimidating. Everything is unfamiliar, and you want to find ways to immerse yourself within the culture.
Here in the Republic of Korea, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) provides the opportunity for service members from the U.S. Forces Korea to go on a three-day cultural awareness trip. This program happens five times a year to strengthen community ties and give members a better view of Korean culture.
“We hope this program is helpful for [participants] to understand and experience Korean culture,” said Lee Kyun, Ministry of Defense program director. “Every year we plan these trips to better relationships between Americans and Koreans.”
Approximately 50 members attended the program in May and experienced the mountainous area of Peyong Chang, the iconic boarder of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the exceptional training program of the Korean Combat Training Center (KCTC), and the agricultural hillsides of Yanggu and Yang Pyeong.
“We were able to work, learn and interact with our Korean counterparts, which implemented what our mission here is, and that is to work together with the Korean Military to keep South Korea at peace,” said Staff Sgt. Hallie Hewitt, 607th Air Support Operations Group command support staff noncommissioned officer in charge.
For the three days, members spent morning, noon and night learning Korean phrases, traditions and viewed Korean life outside of the city area.
“We were able to go to the countryside, away from the base and Seoul, and see the beauty Korea had to offer,” Hewitt said.
This program has been offered to USFK members by the MND for decades, which they have inevitably continued to educate those on Korean culture.
Lee said, he believes the partnership between Americans and Koreans is important to both parties in the mission to maintain the peninsulas safety.