US, ROK bond celebrated, strengthened during festival
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The sights and sounds of two cultures combined for a fun-filled weekend here at the 10th Annual Korean-American Friendship Festival Oct. 5 and 6.
The U.S. and the Republic of Korea have a rich history together, and this multicultural celebration aimed to enhance the relationship between the two countries through the common threads of food, music and games.
The festival kicked off after addresses from leading members of both the local community and 7th Air Force leadership. Volunteers then passed out balloons to audience members who released them in unison after shouting the weekend's theme of "Be a good neighbor, we go together."
Una Park, an English-as-a-second-language teacher in Seoul, attended the festival for the first time with Alex Dowlen, 6th Intelligence Squadron geo-spacial analyst, and was impressed by the way simple things can bridge the gap between cultures.
"It's awesome," Park said, after recounting how the festival gave her American friend, Dowlen, the opportunity to try unique Korean foods he might not otherwise have experienced.
Local and world cuisine wasn't the only attraction for the thousands who flooded the Songtan Entertainment District. The main stage was graced by several performances of traditional dance and martial arts.
As evening approached, the warm weather and brilliant October skies provided the perfect atmosphere for several concerts and even a dance contest set to the tune of Korean pop music, known as K-pop. Although there was a language barrier at times, the smiles and cheers from spectators of all nationalities proved that some things need no translation.
"Live music is always good," said Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 51st Communications Squadron cable antenna systems technician, who helped man one of the many booths featuring food with an all-American feel.
Walker said he enjoyed sharing the experience with members of his host country.
"I think it's a great chance for Americans and Koreans to come together and keep up the camaraderie we have," Walker said.