By Sean Lee
USAG Humphreys

USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea - Despite the heavy all-day rain in Pyeongtaek, many United States Forces Korea families prepared their raincoats and umbrellas to enjoy the "Wootdali Culture Village Experience," May 12, hosted by People to People International (PTPI), a non-profit organization that coordinates various events for USFK families.

Wootdali Culture Village, which used to be a school and has been closed for more than 20 years, has transformed itself, with the support of Pyeongtaek City and the Pyeongtaek Culture Institute, into a get-a-way place that provides a unique cultural experiences for both locals and international visitors.

People who visit the village are able to see both the historic and modern sides of Korea. Included in the museum, are vintage items from the '70s and '80s such as books, clothes, and electronics.

For lunch, the families enjoyed freshly cooked rice, homemade breads, fruit punch, bulgogi, which is Korean-style marinated beef and Kimchi.

"Lunch was amazing," said David Staley, a Soldier with 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, who enjoyed the event with his wife and seven children. "I love bulgogi. I would enjoy more of these kinds of events. We got to interact with Koreans and learn about the culture. I love Korea, it's like a second home."

The families received lessons on how to play various traditional Korean musical instruments for "Samul Nori," a genre of percussion music originating from Korea. Even though they had never heard of Samul Nori, it was easy for the visitors to grasp the music and play along with the rhythm, using the different instruments such as a Jing, a large gong and Janggu, an hourglass-shaped drum.
Time was also spent on making a popular Korean rice cake snack called "Tteok," using the traditional way of hitting rice dough in a wooden bucket, constantly with a wooden hammer, until it becomes sticky.

"I signed up right away (for the tour) because we wanted to experience Korean culture," said Lianys Cortes, an engineering support assistant for the Medical Resident Office, who attended the event with her husband and kids. "We got to do different things. We did pottery, music, and now we've made rice cakes. I really liked the traditional Korean food as well. We have been to this kind of event before and it was similar to this one, with a mix of Koreans and Americans. I want to attend again, if there is another event like this."

U.S. Army Humphreys Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Lopez thanked the community for their hospitality and friendship and taking time to bring the Soldiers and families together to enjoy this event.

"The event would have been more fun and pleasant if the weather was nicer, but PTPI and I are happy to see that USFK families enjoyed this event," said the Hyeon-Sik Lim, the secretary-general of PTPI. "PTPI has been coordinating many events for USFK families to help contribute to a stronger Korea-US alliance."