Here's some advice for those new to Korea
Take pictures or video of everything you can. I came to Korea for the first time in the 1970s. I really wish I had photos of some of the things I remember. Chiefly among those are the 3, 5 or (only one sighting ) 7 man shovels; An entire family , including grandparents riding around on a “one eyed buffalo/ R-Pav (Rice paddy assault vehicle)” which was in those days the main piece of farm equipment; or delivery people hauling loads that would strain a Ford F-150 on what we called “deuce and a half bicycles” they were actually just the old balloon tire bicycles of the past but were reinforced with strips of rebar running between the handlebars and the axle. Korea is such fast moving society that the things you see today will be gone ten years from now when you try to tell someone about them. BTW, if anyone has picture of these please send them to Stripes Korea to be printed in a later issue.
Keep an open mind and always, always, remember that whereever you go you represent the United States. Most of the people from foreign countries never see Americans so be kind and be gentle whenever you can. Just because they are from a country where they are not as advanced as the US does not make them dumb. They may not speak our language but keep in mind words are cheap actions speak.
Oh yes the water is bad; on my first tour I got sick. You have to treat everyone with respect....the Military taught to not to be the ugly American......we have an image to uphold so never act unbecoming of a fine and trained Military Personnel. The travel was nice we used to go to all the big hotels and just sit in the lobby they were so beautiful to see. When we went out we always went in a group, never go out alone, it is safety in numbers.
Respect the people and their culture. At least learn the basics of their language. Spend time with the KATUSAs, they are a wealth of knowledge and the best guides in the country. Remember, you are a “guest” in a foreign country. And the food is great...just don’t ask what’s in it. My cholesterol dropped within the first six months because I ate a lot of Korean food.
Learn how to “read” (sound out the Hangul characters). It’s not as difficult as it might seem at first - much easier than English! Once you can do this, you won’t feel as intimidated when you travel and shop. You’ll be able to “read” signs, order in restaurants, etc.
Virginia Parker Hagin
Get an alien number through Korean immigration office. It makes easier to do lots of things which requires Korean Identification Number (KID). You can have point card at E-mart, Homeplus and you can open bank account in Korea and get a Korean debit card. There might be more opportunities using your alien number in Korea. You can get information from legal office. I saw a piece of paper explain about alien registration number at legal office in Yongsan.
Here is link for alien registration sticker/card. http://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/sja/ClientLegalSvc/LegalServices/docs_visa_services/Alien%20Registration%20Sticker-Card.pdf
Also there are lots of fried chicken in Korea with variety of seasoning. Most of them delivery to your house. Also you can order draft beer and it will deliver to you. You don’t have to pay for delivery and tip. But, you need to get some help from your Korean friend.
Respect. If you give it you will receive it. Make some Korean civilian friends. If you go to bars, behave yourself. Remember you are an ambassador of the United States. If you party, party hardy, but keep it on base and civil. Respect is the most important thing to remember.
Do not drink the water.
Missy Brown Burke
Stay safe and never go anywhere outside the bases without a friend.
Wm Jack Collins
Shopping is awesome, the smell, the beautiful country, the night life is nice, the food is great and. I was there (77-78) and (86-87) I loved my tours there.
Get out as much as you can and soak up a culture that has been in the works for over 5000 years or more.
Keep an open mind. Go out and try new things even if you don’t like it you had the experience. Make some local friends, you can learn so much from each other!
Don’t waste your entire tour in the barracks or at the bars! There is so much more to the country. Definitely make friends with the KATUSAs, you will learn so much from them & you will teach them so much. Step out of your comfort zone and try the food and embrace the culture.
It’s freezing during winter. Be very careful when driving on public roads, they are not the safest drivers around. Montainous terrain. Don’t go out alone to the clubs. Respect the culture. Be mindful of your money. Remember you’re technically in a war zone.
My advice is take full advantage and don’t become a hermit crab inside all day. There’s so much to do and see even with little ones. It’s sooo much different inside play areas for children and pretty much everything is educational while playing. Get out and explore! We’re in Yongsan and I also use iTour Seoul app on my iPhone. It gives directions, addresses and descriptions . . . very useful! Driving here isn’t as scary as it looks once you’re behind a wheel and driving yourself. It will definitely make you more alert and aware of things while driving. Online shopping will more than likely become your best friend. Korea is beautiful and I’m loving it!!
Be brave and venture out. Be nice to the KATUSAs, most are very nice and eager to share their culture and learn ours. Also, unlike us, they don’t choose to be in the military, it’s mandatory and they get paid squat with next to no post privileges. The culture is amazing, the driving is nuts, but it is truly awesome if you care to go experience it.
Jennifer L. Calhoun Cook
Make sure you have your SOJU experience with those you trust . . .
Don’t bring a car, make friends with the KATUSAs and try the local food!