Signing ceremony
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Marcus D. Perkins, left, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, is pictured with Yong-hwan Kwak, governor of Goryeong County, South Korea. The two organizations signed a friendship agreement on April 14 to strengthen ties between the two organizations and countries. (Photo Credit: Hyo Chu Kim) VIEW ORIGINAL
Meeting with officials
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Marcus D. Perkins, front right, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, meets with officials from Goryeong County, South Korea, after signing a friendship agreement on April 14. (Photo Credit: Hyo Chu Kim) VIEW ORIGINAL

GORYEONG, South Korea -- The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea is building its relationship with the local Korean communities where it operates.

Leadership at USAMMC-K on April 14 furthered that bond by signing a friendship agreement with Goryeong County, seeking to strengthen relations between Korea and the U.S. through a mutual cultural exchange and cooperation between the two organizations.

The agreement also includes a pledge to contribute to the development of local communities through cooperative projects, as well as shared interest in foreign language classes for students and community events.

“I look forward to building upon the bond that has been forged through the sacrifices of war,” USAMMC-K Commander Lt. Col. Marcus D. Perkins said during the ceremony. “My own grandfather played an important part during the Korean War to ensure the friendship between both South Korea and the United States was protected.

“I, too, in turn want to do my part as a guest in your country and an ambassador of mine,” he added.

Perkins presented a framed replica of USAMMC-K’s colors to Goryeong officials. In exchange, Goryeong Gov. Yong-hwan Kwak offered a mini gayageum, a traditional Korean musical instrument with 12 strings that traces its origins to the province just outside the city of Daegu.

The agreement functions similarly to a “sister city” relationship between the U.S. and another country, a means to forge relationships and broaden cultural understanding between nations.

Over a year in the making, movement toward the agreement started in 2019 when USAMMC-K officials offered support to foreign language classrooms in the Korean county. Later, the center proposed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, to further build cultural bonds with its host nation.

By way of the agreement, USAMMC-K will be invited to attend inauguration ceremonies for the head of Goryeong County and cultural community events. The same invite will be extended for USAMMC-K ceremonies, such as its change of command.

Kwak expressed appreciation and respect for all U.S. Soldiers, who have helped preserve freedom and peace on the Korean Peninsula since the Korean War over 70 years ago.

“While the world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that the need for cooperation, harmony and communication, along with the valuable lesson that the world is paradoxically connected as one, seems to be felt more than ever,” Kwak said.

“Today, I hope that USAMMC-K and Goryeong … will continue to grow together through mutual cooperation and harmony.”

Perkins said the relationship aligns with the Eighth Army’s line of effort to “strength the alliance” with the military’s host nation.

“It is our opportunity as ambassadors of our own country to give back and build community,” he said. “Generally speaking, part of why Soldiers join the military is the adventure. There is no better way to extend your learning of another’s culture than submerging yourself inside of it.”