By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public AffairsMay 21, 2013
SEOUL (May 21, 2013) -- South Korean civilian officials honored American service members at the fourth annual Korean Cultural Night here, May 17.
Attended by senior South Korean government officials and business leaders, the event highlighted the service of U.S. troops, civilians and family members in Korea.
Among the U.S. military leaders in attendance were Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, 7th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea Commander Maj. Gen. Michael R. Regner and Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux.
Held at the Sheraton Walker Hill, the event featured performances by traditional Korean dancers.
Johnson thanked his South Korean allies for their enduring support of Eighth Army and the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance.
"We're gathered in this magnificent hall in a famous hotel in Seoul named after a former Eighth Army commander," said Johnson, referring to the landmark hotel named after the first Korean War-era Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker.
Johnson also talked about how the alliance was forged during "darkest days of the Korean War" at the Pusan Perimeter, the 50-mile-wide by 80-mile-long perimeter in the southeastern corner of the Korean Peninsula where invading North Korean forces outnumbered and outgunned United Nations forces in the summer of 1950.
"There was terrible fighting there to preserve what was left of Korean and American forces," said Johnson. "It was from the perimeter that sprang forth the alliance that ultimately retook Korea and has protected Korea since that day. As we have stood side-by-side, the great patriots of Korea have built this amazing country."
Johnson then told the story of Scholar Ha Yeon-soon, the founder of the KumGok Academio-Cultural Foundation, the host organization for the annual Korean Cultural Night.
As young boy during the Korean War, Ha first met American troops inside the Pusan Perimeter when they saved him from a long walk by giving him a ride in their jeep. One of the preeminent Confucian scholars in the world today, Ha has been a staunch supporter of the ROK-U.S. Alliance ever since.
Johnson said the Korean Cultural Night was another demonstration of the great camaraderie shared by American service members and their South Korean allies.
"Tonight we saw the colors come out in front of us and be posted out on stage. You see the American flag and Korean flag side-by-side," said Johnson, who has served as the Eighth Army commanding general since November 2010.
"It's a great place to be," said Johnson. "It's a great place to serve."