U.S. ARMY GARRISON YONGSAN -- From a tiny room on the second floor of the Combined Forces Command headquarters building at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Ms. Kim, Man-So doles out hot dogs, drinks and friendly smiles, just as she's done for decades.
Ms. Kim, the lone food service worker at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's snack shop, has taken care of U.S. and Korean Soldiers at the CFC headquarters since September 1979. She began her Exchange career in 1964, at age 19. For a time, she served as a waitress, delivering food on her bicycle to troops stationed near the Exchange's distribution center in Korea.
Now at age 71 and in her 52nd year with the Exchange, Ms. Kim still works 40 hours a week and exemplifies the Department of Defense retailer's core value of family serving family. Ms. Kim speaks Korean and some English, but her spirit transcends any language barrier. Each day, Ms. Kim serves up smiles while remembering what her customers like to order.
The best part of her job, Ms. Kim says, is getting to know the service members who stop in daily. She serves them faithfully, remembering what her customers like to order each day.
"In our office, we call it the 'Ms. Kim Special' -- two hot dogs and a drink," said Sgt. 1st Class William Brown, who serves in the Eighth Army and stops in a few times a week for a bite to a eat and an energy drink. "She has a memory like an elephant. She's awesome."
One wall of the tiny shop is covered with pictures, certificates of appreciation and challenge coins Ms. Kim has received over the years. In the photos, she smiles alongside U.S. and Korean commanders who appreciated her service.
Ms. Kim's friendliness and attention to detail win everyone over, says her supervisor, Yongsan Exchange Food Court Manager Mr. Son, Chung-Yun.
"No matter their rank, she says, 'Good morning! How are you?' " Mr. Son said. "Every single Soldier--she greets them the same. She's the mascot of this building. She knows everybody and what they need."
Yongsan Exchange General Manager Steve Pena applauded Ms. Kim's long tenure of service and support.
"She's very friendly," Pena said. "She's always smiling--just very happy."
Though she's worked for 52 years, Ms. Kim says she has no plans to slow down.
"As long as this space is here and she has her health, she'll keep working," Pena said. "She knows she has a place here and a job to do."