STUDENTS AND faculty and staff members of the Korean School at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) at the Presidio of Monterey honored South Korea\'s Independence Day by stepping outside the classroom and onto the Presidio's Price Fitness Center Athletic Field for a day-long celebration of Korea's most important patriotic holiday.

The Presidio event took place on Aug. 14, one day before the Republic of Korea's Independence Day of Aug. 15, which South Koreans remember as the designated day in 1945 when their country gained its freedom after 40 years of subjugation by Japan.

"Aug. 15 is for Koreans what the Fourth of July is for Americans," said Dr. Clive Roberts, Dean of DLIFLC's Asian School 2, in remarks that opened the celebration. Like the American holiday, South Korea's Independence Day commemorates "liberation from tyranny and a declaration of independence," he said.

Observing the holiday is a DLIFLC tradition and this year's celebration, as in years past, was a day of skits, songs and games with Korean themes and with Korean language very much in use.

Guest speakers Dr. Donald C. Fischer, DLIFLC Provost, and Mr. Bon-Woo Koo, Republic of Korea Consul General for San Francisco, addressed attendees when the celebration began. With an interpreter alongside to render his remarks in Korean, Fischer compared Korea's attainment of independence with that of America's original 13 colonies, with a notable difference that the Korean experience is still a living memory for some.

Fischer said DLIFLC graduates of Korean have helped maintain peace in a troubled part of Asia. "Hang in there," he told the students. "You have very great value, very great importance."

Speaking in Korean with an English interpreter alongside, the consul general also directed many of his remarks to students.

Acknowledging that Korean is a difficult language for speakers of English to learn, Koo urged students to cultivate interest in Korean culture and traditions.

"It will help your language skills," Koo said.

Koo described the South Korea-United States relationship as "very tight and solid." DLIFLC's Korean School, he said, contributes to a "foundation for the future."

Page last updated Tue September 22nd, 2009 at 13:21