CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea -- South Korea, also known as the country of morning calm, is abundant in historical sites that anyone can visit and learn about nearly 5,000 years of Korean history throughout the beautiful scenic mountains across the country.
Different culture, history, food, people and their ideas collectively make South Korea a unique place to visit, attracting people from the rest of the world.
To experience the culture of South Korea, Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, along with Soldiers from subordinate units of 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division, participated in a tour of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, on Oct. 21.
During the Security and Culture Tour, hosted by Min-Cheol Kim from Gyeongi Provincial Government Northern Office, U.S. Soldiers visited the Seoul National Cemetery, Republic of Korea's Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI), the N Seoul Tower, and the War Memorial of Korea.
After taking a moment of silence to the fallen heroes of South Korea at the Seoul National Cemetery, Soldiers visited the MAKRI, a military organization that is similar to U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Command.
"The most meaningful part of the tour was the MAKRI," said 2nd Lt. Chandler Weigand from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. "I was able to learn how ROK recovers the remains and the whole process behind it."
Following the MAKRI was a visit to the N Seoul Tower. The 775-foot-high tower is located in the center of Seoul, so when Soldiers reached the circular observatory with transparent windows on the fifth floor of the tower, they could see the whole city from the sky view.
The last place Soldiers visited was the War Memorial of Korea, which is located next to the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. After watching a one-hour performance by the Ministry of National Defense Guard of Honor, Soldiers entered a section inside the memorial where they could learn the history of the Korean War.
"It was an awesome experience to learn a lot of the Korean War that I was not aware of," said 1st Sgt. Michael Keys from Company B, 1st En. Bn., 1st ABCT. "I also enjoyed the military show they put on. It was a good experience."
The Devil Soldiers' first tour to Seoul concluded with a dinner in Uijeongbu, a city located in the north of Seoul. During the dinner, Soldiers were served with a buffet and Shabu shsabu, a Mongolian hot-pot cuisine that was later introduced into Japan and Korea.
At the end of the day, Soldiers who participated in the tour say they were impressed by a different but beautiful culture of South Korea.
"I could learn a lot about the culture of Korea," said Keys. "I got to see beautiful scenery with a lot of mountains. I learned how Korean people lived in the past."
The tour program was designated not only for Soldiers' to experience and understand the Korean culture, but also for the alliance between South Korea and the U.S.
"The idea behind it is that the Soldiers go out and see the Korean culture and interact with Korean people so they can build better friendship and understanding of why we are here," said Capt. Kelly Buckner, the Devil brigade's Civil Affairs Officer, who coordinated the tour program with the 2nd Inf. Div./RUCD and Gyeonggi Provincial Office. "This translates to overall a better attitude and more thoughtful engagement about Korea as a whole."
We are working to find what available tours are, including tours to Seoul, Demilitarized Zone, Joint Security Area, and local areas, so we can provide every Soldier with the opportunity to participate, said Buckner.