DONGHAE, Republic of Korea –
Sailors and Navy families assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy 1st Fleet improved cultural relations and strengthened the U.S.-ROK alliance through a two day team building event hosted in Donghae, July 20-21.
"This trip is a great opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen our partnership with the ROK navy," said Lt. j.g. Christopher Quast, who helped organize the event in conjunction with the ROK Chief of Naval Operations staff. "Interacting with Korean sailors in an informal setting is a terrific way to improve our professional relationships."
The event kicked off on Mangsang Beach where Korean sailors and their families welcomed the U.S. Seoul-based Sailors, accompanied by their families, with refreshments and water sports. Many Korean and American service members enjoyed the unique opportunity to talk with their counterparts in an informal setting, while others competed in the team building activities including a water balloon toss, a bean bag toss and a friendly game of soccer.
"I firmly believe that the strong Alliance between our navies is sustained through relationships - and this starts by getting to know each other on a personal level - as people - and building close friendships with each other," said Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea. "These relationships enable the success and lay the foundation for teamwork in our bilateral exercises we just completed in the East Sea this week."
The first day wrapped up with a dinner and cultural performance at the Hyunjin Hotel hosted by Rear Adm. Chung, An Ho, commander of ROK Navy 1st Fleet. The performers included a Samul-Nori (traditional Korean drum quartet), a magic show for the children, a cross-cultural saxophone duet and a ROK Navy band showcasing a variety of American classic rock songs.
The next day, the 45 Americans had the choice of visiting Ojukheon, a traditional Joseon Dynasty estate and museum, or hiking in Mureung Valley with a tour of the Samhwa Buddist Temple. Their Korean counterparts were on hand to help translate and expand the U.S. Sailors' knowledge of the Republic of Korea's history and culture.
"This trip was a great family adventure, and a wonderful opportunity shared with our ROK Navy colleagues," said Jessica Hentze, president of the Navy Family Readiness Group in Seoul. "We experienced part of their culture and enjoyed many laughs together along the way."
The two-day event closed with a traditional meal of bulgogi served in a stone bowl with rice and kimchi hosted at the ROK Navy Golf Club House.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander for the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea.