CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea (Nov. 16, 2021) – Behind the stadium of Pyeongtaek University, past the soccer field, two communities united as one to make kimchi.
The Korean-American Children's Culture Exchange Association hosted their third Kimchi Making Festival Nov. 13, inviting the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys community to join Pyeongtaek residents to make kimchi for those in need. The event was also an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the two communities.
“The kimchi we make today is not just kimchi, but sharing love for our neighbors, isolated children, and the handicap people in Pyeongtaek,” said Jang Seon-jung, mayor of Pyeongtaek.
Humphreys volunteers geared up with their hair nets, pink rubber gloves, and blue aprons. They paired up with their Korean companions, ready to partake in making a traditional cultural cuisine.
“My wife loves kimchi. It's easy to make, and it tastes really good. I know it is a staple in this culture here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin C. Lemon, the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys senior enlisted leader. “I am here for the fellowship, to continue the relationship we have, and to have a good time. We are always here to show support for the ROK-U.S. alliance.”
Three rows of tents with elongated tables lined the university’s courtyard. All participants worked quickly to get the fermented cabbage into the sauces and packaged into the containers. Korean volunteers used non-verbal cues to help teach their American friends how to make the delicacy. Both parties laughed and seemed to enjoy being out and connecting over the process.
“This is our second year here. We came out last year and had a lot of fun,” said Danielle Roth, a Humphreys community member. “We love the people, the food, and being able to make kimchi. My favorite part is making friends and exposing my kids to different things.”
The line of workers filled container after container with kimchi. As they packaged it, the volunteers also got the opportunity to indulge in the dish they created.
“My family and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the local Korean culture,” said Sgt. Maj. Alex Petty, Eighth Army command paralegal. “Learning about ‘winter’ kimchi, making it, and getting to eat what we made was icing on the cake.”
After a day of making kimchi, there was a period of music, drum and dance performances, and giveaways. There was also a stack of containers ready to give away to Pyeongtaek community organizations and the Humphreys volunteers.
“As we finished eating some of our kimchi, we got to see thirty minutes of traditional Korean dancing and music,” continued Petty. “Overall, our family left with a greater understanding and appreciation of the ROK culture and feel like more people should get involved with their local community. They’ll more than likely leave happy and full.”
The Humphreys garrison commander closed out the festival with a special thank you on behalf of the American community.
“A special thanks to Pyeongtaek University for hosting us all today. Events like today are very important. They help us better understand one another's cultures, they enhance our friendship, and most importantly they strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance,” said Col. Seth C. Graves. “It is even more meaningful and special when we can come here together and help those in need.”