KATUSA PX stocks snacks, surprises galore
December 20, 2012
By Pfc. Lee Seong-su
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea -- Walk through a Korean neighborhood and you will find small convenience stores stocked with just about anything you could want. For Korean Soldiers who live and work with American Soldiers that same convenience is to be found on U.S. Army installations throughout Korea.
The Korean soldiers can get a little taste of home while serving with U.S. Forces at their base's KATUSA PX. KATUSAs are South Korean Soldiers assigned to duty with the U.S. Army. The term stands for Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army.
On Camp Red Cloud, the KATUSA PX is behind Freeman Hall in building 607. On Camp Casey it's in building 1701, across from the Warrior's Club.
"We are selling items for the welfare of Soldiers," said Pfc. Kim Dong-hyun, 21, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, who manages Camp Red Cloud's KATUSA PX.
The store where Kim works is small, but is stocked with a good variety of items you might find at any Korean corner convenience store -- ramen, frozen foods, snacks, water and other beverages. But it's not only food. The KATUSA PX also sells such staples as razors, shampoo, soap, detergent, and cigarettes.
It's not just for Korean soldiers. U.S. Soldiers and civilians can shop there too and can pay not only in Korean won but also with credit cards and U.S. dollars.
Prices are low.
"You can buy six bottles of two-liter Seoksu mineral water for 3,120 won, just a little bit higher than $3," said Kim.
A Twix bar is 590 won (about 54 cents), and a Hot Break chocolate bar is 390 won (about 36 cents), said Pvt. Jung Young-jo, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company USAG Red Cloud.
For U.S. Soldiers like Pvt. Ernest Espinoza, the PX affords a chance to try Korean snacks.
"The store is small, but it has a lot of stuff," said Espinoza, 21, of Headquarters and Support Company, HHBN. "We can try different snacks."
He usually buys Swing Chips, potato chips seasoned with red pepper, and a can of Coco-palm, a Korean-made soft drink.
According to Kim, the store has more than 300 items in stock. But if someone wants an item he doesn't usually carry, he may be able to order it online through a South Korean Army Welfare & Service Support Group website. He uses that online order system about twice a week.
"Pfc. Kim is always ready to recommend some delicious frozen foods," said Sgt. Ki Yeon-suk, 22, who works at the 2nd Infantry Division's Civil Affairs Office. And, he said, if someone asks for an item that's not on the shelf, he's seen Kim readily go into the stock room to bring it out.
The Camp Red Cloud KATUSA PX is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except national holidays or Warrior Family days. It's also open Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
From his fellow-Soldiers Kim catches a certain amount of good-natured ribbing about what they see as a cushy job.
Sometimes, for instance, they use a Korean expression that translates "You're sucking honey."
"Some may kid me and make cracks but I want to do my best for my customers because it's my mission," Kim said.