SOUTH KOREA - More than 70 2nd Infantry Division soldiers and family members were provided the opportunity to attend two Korean culture tours April 30 to May 3, 2013, as a component of the ongoing partnership between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

Two of many events sponsored by the Gyeonggi Provincial Office throughout the year to help welcome and integrate 2nd Inf. Div. soldiers and families, the tours were free of charge to soldiers and their families, including all admission prices, flights, lodging and meals.

"We want to support soldiers while they're stationed in Korea and help build a stronger relationship between U.S. Forces Korea and [the citizens of Gyeonggi Province]," said Lee Kang-hee, the director of the GPO's Military Cooperation Division.

The first was a three-day trip April 30 to May 2 for more than 40 division soldiers to Jeju Island, a popular island tourist destination in Korea. After the short flight from Seoul, the 2nd Inf. Div. Soldiers enjoyed a boat tour of the volcanic island; visited the Museum of War, History and Peace, which included a tour of a restored Japanese bunker deep in the rocky hillside; and even shopped for high-quality tea products and baked goods at the Osculloc Museum, an outlet for one of the premier manufacturers of tea in Korea.

"I loved the tour," said Pfc. Mickenley Bush, a soldier with Company A, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Inf. Div., who participated in the event. "It was a different side [of] Korean culture. Kapshi Kapshida [We go together]!"

The second trip was held May 3 for more than 30 division soldiers and their families in the Gyeonggi Province area. The day's activities included a tour of the Gyeongbokgung Palace located in northern Seoul; a visit to Seoul Tower, the highest point in Seoul; and an opportunity for some shopping and meals at two local Korean restaurants. Participants also enjoyed the "Cookin' Nanta" show, which incorporates acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime, traditional samul nori and audience participation into a first-class theatrical experience.

"I have experience with past tours, but this is my first tour in Uijeongbu," said Capt. Benjamin Ahn, chaplain of Headquarters Support Company, HHBN. "I recommend that Soldiers and their Families take advantage of opportunities to explore Korea."

The 2nd Inf. Div. is committed to building strong relationships with the communities surrounding its garrisons and units.

"We appreciate the generous support of our friends and neighbors in the community to welcome our new soldiers and families to Korea," said Lt. Col. Joe Scrocca, the 2nd Inf. Div. spokesman. "All 2ID Soldiers and Family members are U.S. Ambassadors to Korea and cultural awareness is essential to understanding and accomplishing our mission here. Nowhere else in the world will you see an Alliance like this one - I am proud to be part of it."