YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Kim Kyong-yim doesn't surround herself with awards and plaques. Inherent to her Korean culture, she downplays her accomplishments.

But a four-letter acronym - CDFM - will always appear on her signature block, and she is quite proud of that.

That stands for Certified Defense Financial Manager, a professional certification telling others the owner has mastered a high level of proficiency in resource and financial management.

Kim and her co-workers Yi Haeng-sim and Yo Chin-ho are analysts in the U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Directorate of Resource Management who this summer earned the certification after completing months of study, on-the-job-training and passing three comprehensive exams.

They are among 94 resource management professionals Korea-wide who have earned the certification to date, according to the American Society of Military Comptrollers Korea Chapter.

"CDFM is a significant, distinguished award," said Ron Outten, interim RM director. "But to do so in a second language is even more impressive."

Kim said that was probably the hardest part. "I felt like a survivor after finishing the last exam," she said.

She was "nervous" when she first saw the 3-inch binder containing the basic study material that supports on-the-job training and in-residence workshops.

"Everything is in English, our second language, and very difficult to understand," Kim said. "But one thing that we all have now is that we can see the whole resource management picture, and that is very important."

Yi is a full-time manpower analyst and wanted to learn more about the budget world. She started the program a year ago.

"Because manpower, management and budget are so closely related, I wanted to learn more about budgeting," she said. "But to learn all that in English was so difficult."

The CDFM program is offered through the American Society of Military Comptrollers. Similar to other professional certification programs, CDFM candidates must have a number of years of experience and other prerequisites before enrolling. Though manpower and management topics are addressed in the training, the majority of the material is related to financial management, budget and accounting.

"One of the difficult challenges in RM is that about 85 percent of what we do is budget and related to appropriations law, written in precise terms and very difficult to understand," Outten explained. "This means they really understand those details and can apply them to how they do their jobs."

He said he was "extremely proud" of Yi, because she had no prior budget experience. "She had a lot of homework time to pass these modules."

Yo has worked as a budget analyst for four years. Even though he handles budget issues daily, the program was an eye-opener for him. "Through the study for this certification, I found some logic in the system."

He is now moving forward to obtain another certification called the Certified Government Financial Manager.

All three point to their RM mentor, Pang Kyong-son. They call her the "pioneer" because she earned her CDFM two years ago, the first Korean employee to do so in USAG-Yongsan-RM, Outten said.

"When I was assigned to RM last year, Ms Pang encouraged me to take this program," Kim said. "She said it is the 'Ph.D.' for us. She has encouraged many Koreans to do this."

Outten said because they completed the program in their second language, he believes they are all role models for other garrisons to emulate. "Koreans are very proud people. They don't like to display or advocate their accomplishments and don't show off how good they really are. So this is not just that they are more of a value to their organization, they are a true asset wherever they go."