By Pvt. Keonhee LeeNovember 27, 2017
Soldiers of 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division and Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) 125th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, ROKA 26th Mechanized Infantry Division, and several local community organizations participated in the annual Kimchi Charity Event held by Dongducheon Volunteer Center at Dongducheon Multi Complex Stadium, Dongducheon, Republic of Korea, Nov. 22, 2017.
It was early in the morning and although there was a slight rain, participants were excited to be part of the event. In total, they made approximately 7,000 kilograms of Kimchi, which was distributed to citizens on the local community, focusing on senior citizens and those in need.
The Soldiers started by labeling cabbage boxes for Kimchi, and then setting up tables. They then donned aprons and rubber gloves and began the Kimchi making process. Since most of them had never made Kimchi before, people from volunteer organizations were on hand to assist the willing participants in preparing the Korean staple food. They stood side by side, making Kimchi and chatted with each other. Hyun Sook Im, president of the Dongducheon Red Cross, highly praised the Army Soldiers for their hard work.
"U.S. Army Soldiers are all very kind and hardworking," Im said. "They are very fun, and I think they are the best."
During the event, the Soldiers were focused on the task at hand, and were pleased with their results.
"I've eaten Kimchi before, but this is my first time making some," said Spc. Tomas Medevielle, a Prescott, Ariz. native and a cannon crewmember assigned to 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th FA Bde. "My Kimchi tasted and smelled great."
This charity event was also an opportunity for Thunder Brigade Soldiers to interact with ROKA troops outside of a training environment, which allowed both sides to interact in a more relaxed environment.
"Actually, there are not many opportunities to interact with U.S. Army Soldiers [outside of a training event]," said Pfc. Yong Seung Ryu, a rifleman assigned to Company C, 125th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 75th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, 16th ROKA Infantry Division. "Most of the time the opportunities would be during training and that's why I think this event is awesome."
"This is more like a voluntary event, and we distribute Kimchi to people like lower-income groups, seniors who can't eat by themselves, and single parent families," said Jang Wee Soon, the leader of Dongducheon Volunteer Center.
Im added that every year, they make approximately 800 boxes of Kimchi and distribute all of them to the poor in the area.
"We deliver these after the festival, so they can get through winter," Im said.
Despite the cold weather, the overall atmosphere of the event was very lively. Meeting for the first time did not hinder their interaction, as they communicated mostly through body language.
"It seemed as if the U.S. [Army] Soldiers liked the event a lot and the overall atmosphere is very cheerful and lively, because they are doing volunteer activities," said Jang. "ROKA Soldiers and volunteer organizations are proud to take part in this, because they are helping people and contributing to the local community."
Involving the community through various efforts like these events also strengthens the alliance between the two nations, said Jang.
"This is another form of strengthening our alliance with the U.S. Army Soldiers," said Ryu. "We are not doing that just with their cannons and bullets. We are actually helping the community in various ways, like this Kimchi making event."
"This is not the only way for the U.S. Army Soldiers to contribute to the local community," said Jang. "The Soldiers are contributing to the community in various ways, like river cleanings, English classes, and tree planting events. They are actually a big help to the country and also our city, and they are essential to us."
Thanks to this event, Thunder Brigade Soldiers had a cheerful time interacting with the locals and ROKA Soldiers, and also made an unforgettable memory by making their very first Kimchi and contributing to the local community.