Friendship fest strengthens alliance
DONGDUCHEON - "Ka-chi kap-shi-da" is Korean for "Let's go together."
And that is what has been happening with Americans and Koreans north of Seoul in an area called Warrior Country since the Korean War.
"For decades Koreans and Americans have fought, trained and lived side by side in defense of this great republic," said Brig. Gen. J.B. Burton, the 2nd Infantry Division's deputy commanding general, maneuver, during the 8th Korean-American Friendship Festival held in Dongducheon.
"And for decades," said Burton, "the good people of the city of Dongducheon have supported the Soldiers of 2nd Division at Camp Casey. Our Soldiers and their families live here, they work here, they shop here and they enjoy the benefits that this strong and genuine friendship brings."
The festival was held at the ROK-U.S. Cultural Plaza in the Bosan-dong section of Dongducheon, near Camp Casey's main gate. There was free food. Koreans got to sample American hot dogs and hamburgers while Americans were treated to tteokbokki (spicy cylinder-shaped rice cake) and saengseon-jeon (breaded fish pancake).
American and Korean children worked side-by-side on arts-and-crafts. They made traditional Korean masks and were given help in spinning pottery.
"I liked making the things," said 10-year-old Raymond Pessa. "I made a candle. We got to squish it and make it into a ball, and then make it into a candle."
"There was a lot of stuff to see and do here today," said Raymond's dad, Staff Sgt. Jason Pessa, of Battery E, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment. "The boys got to see a lot of dances and things they wouldn't get to see back in the states."
The 2nd Infantry Division's rock band kicked off the festival's entertainment. Other entertainment for the day included the division's taekwondo demonstration team, break dancers, fan-and-mask dancers, as well as performances on traditional Korean drums and stringed instruments.
The Alaniz family became Korean as they donned traditional garments called hanbok for a family portrait.
"The day was awesome," said Frances Alaniz, who arrived in Korea Aug. 20 with her four children and husband, Staff Sgt. Rudy Alaniz, of the 210th Fires Brigade.
"It gave us a chance to get to know their culture and way of living," she said.
Dongducheon Mayor Oh Se-chang said the festival helps the U.S.-South Korean military alliance.
"I think that we have continued to strengthen the Korean and American alliance through our effort to increase the friendship between Camp Casey, Area I and Dongducheon city," said Oh. "I hope that everyone forms many good and happy memories here."