Eighth Army increases leadership presence in Hongdae
YONGSAN GARRISON — Soldiers from Eighth Army witnessed an unusual site during their late-night revels at the bars and clubs of Seoul’s Hongdae district Oct. 30 as one of the highest ranking officers in their organization made appearances at their favorite watering holes.
Maj. Gen. David Puster, deputy commanding general of Eighth Army, (sustainment) conducted a command presence patrol with members of the Mapo Police Department to mark the expansion of the courtesy patrol program into the Hongdae area.
“What we want to do is monitor our Soldiers to make sure that they’re conducting themselves in an appropriate way,” Puster Said. “I think our presence tonight shows strong alliance we have with the Republic of Korea.”
The trend of Soldiers to moving their off-post recreation to Hongdae from Itaewon recently gained the attention of U.S Army leaders and Korean police. According to Mapo police, Halloween is a fun season for U.S Soldiers. When the holiday falls on one of Hongdae’s club nights it can lead to a busy night for police and the number of dispatches soars up to two to three times of that of average weekday.
“We had hard time going through questioning suspicious foreigners in the past,” Maop Police Superintendent Park Chang-ho Said. “But with the help of U.S. Army, we can see to it with ease and repress the crime, further bolstering the relationship of both nations.”
Operations commenced with Korean police officers and U.S Soldiers patrolling the area and walking through Hongdae’s bars, clubs and restaurants while checking on the behavior of U.S. service members.
The Oct. 30 patrols were only the beginning according to Park. U.S Army leaders and Mapo police have established an ongoing partnership in which they will conduct periodical courtesy patrols the second and fourth weeks of each month coinciding with Soldiers’ payday weekends and Hongdae’s club days.