CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - For getting a close look at Korea, few opportunities top cultural tours.

Sponsored by the United States Army Garrison Humphreys Public Affairs Office, these tours go to cultural and historic landmarks.

The most recent tour was to Sudosa temple. One participant on this tour, Humphreys family member Sharee Green-Hubbard, said it gave her a better understanding of Buddhism.

Sudosa was built in 852 A.D. by the monk Yeomgeo. Then, according to legend, the monk Wonhyo was en route to China when he stopped overnight at Sudosa. He felt parched and drank water using a dipper. It relieved his thirst and the taste pleased him. The next day, he realized the dipper was a skull. According to the traditional story, he then realized everything is defined by the mind.

The tour of Sudosa temple is an example of the advantage of being in Korea, according to participant Amy Parlo.

"I believe opportunities such as this provide an excellent chance for Americans to experience aspects of Korean culture that we may not otherwise be exposed to," she said. "All of the tours that I've attended have provided me with a better understanding of Korean history, its culture and its people. They have all been positive learning experiences."

Visitors took part in a Buddhist mass and made bean curd, tea and lanterns.

"I really enjoyed being able to see the Buddhist culture firsthand during the ceremony," said participant Justine Beeson, a Humphreys family member. "It was interesting to learn about their religion and foods."

Green-Hubbard said her favorite part was making lanterns.

"My children enjoyed the hands on activity," she said.

"I enjoyed nearly every aspect of this tour," Parlo added. "It was very moving to participate in the chant ceremony in the temple. I also particularly liked the bean paste sandwiches. The food we prepared was some of the best I've had in Korea."

At the end of the tour, participants received photos and a cookbook written by the monks.

"I would say that these tours offer me a more in depth experience of authentic Korean culture," Parlo said. "I'm so grateful for the hospitality of the Korean nationals in sharing with us the various aspects of their lives and culture."

The next Camp Humphreys Cultural tour, scheduled for May 26, will feature stops at the Chong Dojeon shrine, Utdari Cultural Village and Jinwi Vegetable Village. To register, call 754-6130.

Page last updated Tue May 8th, 2012 at 04:01