By Sgt. Lee Min-hwi (USAG-Yongsan)May 27, 2009
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Students and staff from a Korean university received a Yongsan Garrison orientation May 20 introducing them to what U.S. Army does in Korea as part of the U.S. Forces Korea Good Neighbor Program.
Nearly 40 visitors from Hallym University in Chuncheon, northeast of Seoul, were treated to a luncheon with several American civilian employees, including Deputy Garrison Commander Don Moses. The group also received a driving tour around the installation.
"Since last year, we are having this annual good neighbor event so that a group of students can visit the U.S. Army base and have insight to the global community that they are living in," said Wang Sin-sik, a Hallym University librarian. "This will be a good eye-opening experience for them."
The invitation to visit Yongsan was one of a series of Good Neighbor program events coordinated with the U.S. Embassy to help give Korea's younger generation an improved understanding of the U.S. Army, said USAG-Yongsan Community Relations Officer An Chang-sin.
"It is also important for us to show what the U.S. Army does beyond the walls," An said. "Although younger Korean generations are more open to American culture and their way of living than older generations, it is vital that they actually see and understand what the people are like through this kind of experience."
The students and staff received a windshield tour around the installation and listened to An's explanations about the history of the garrison and how it operates as a whole community where Americans and Koreans work together.
"There are nearly 5,000 Korean employees in the Garrison," An said. "Considering that there are about 25,000 people, including American Soldiers, Civilians Employees and their Family Members on this base, it is a huge number. The economic benefit gained by having this installation cannot be underestimated."
They also watched a multimedia presentation on the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States and the Yongsan Relocation Plan.
"Although some people are skeptical of the existence of U.S. Army bases in Korea, I believe that a large part of Korea's younger generation understands the circumstantial necessity and economic benefits by having them in here," said Yi Dong-uk, a Hallym junior. "I myself was once a Soldier in ROK Army and that experience gives me a deeper insight into this alliance."
"I once visited Yongsan-Garrison to perform Korean classical music when I was young, and it is refreshing to come and see this place again," said Song Som-ee, a Hallym freshmen. "It helped me see that there is more to the alliance between the two nations than I originally thought. I wish this partnership would grow stronger for both nations."
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