The Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense Friends Forever Program has invited 300 United States Forces Korea servicemembers to participate cultural tours over the summer to increase their understanding of the Korean history, customs and traditions as a part of the Republic of Korea-United States Friends Forever Program.

Each tour visits the National Museum, a traditional Korean restaurant for lunch, the Korean Folk Village in Yongin, the Korean War Memorial and ends with a traditional dinner at the Museum Wedding Hall with Lee Keun-beom, director of the Defense Education Policy Bureau at the Ministry of National Defense.

"For the last half century, Korea and the United States have been comrades, having fought together in the same wars and whose bonds were forged in blood. Although short, I hope this invitational event serves as a valuable opportunity for all of you to gain a deeper understanding of Korea and to strengthen friendships with one another," said Lee in his toast during dinner at the Museum Wedding Hall.

Pvt. Samuel J. Bittinger, a tour participant and billeting clerk at the 1st Replacement Company, said he learned a lot about the Korean culture and people during the tour. He said it helped him "solve some questions about the Korean culture and tradition," such as why Koreans serve many side dishes when dining. He said this experience would help him to bridge the cultural gap.

"I especially liked the tour of the Korean Folk Village," said Bittinger. "Looking at the old villages and experiencing how they used to live taught me many new things about this country and I now feel little bit more at home in this country."

ROK-U.S. Friends Forever Program has hosted more than 15,000 USFK servicemembers throughout the peninsula in the 15 years since its creation.

A cornerstone of this long-lasting alliance, Friends Forever Program will continue to bridge the gaps and strengthen the friendship between the two armed forces.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16