Korean and English Speech Contest reinforces the alliance between ROK and U.S.
Yongsan Garrison, South Korea - Hosted by Republic of Korea Army Support Group, the 16th Korean and English speech contest was held for U.S. Soldiers and Korean students on Yongsan Garrison in recognition of the 570th anniversary of Hangul Proclamation Day, Oct 5, 2016.
"I hope this contest serves as an opportunity to reinforce our ROK-U.S. alliance and fosters our mutual understanding … through our beautiful languages," said Republic of Korea Army Support Group commander, Col. Lee Chul Won.
Prior to this event, all four areas in Korea held previous contests and each of them gave two contestant winners a ticket for the 16th Eighth Army Speech Contest on Yongsan Garrison.
"For this competition, a total of eight U.S. contestants need to deliver a Korean speech and perform verbal charades where two contestants work as a pair, and Korean students will give their speeches in English after them," said the event organizer, 2nd Lt. Dorothy Krebill assigned to 362nd Signal Company, 1st Signal Brigade.
Contestants were tasked to give a five-minute speech in Korean and then work as a member of a two-man team in the verbal charades event, which consisted of one participant describing words in Korean until the other participant could guess the word and answer in Korean.
Event contestant Pfc. Phuong Tran, assigned to 188th Military Police Company, emphasized the importance of learning Korean saying, "to keep this alliance, we must be able to communicate with our KATUSA counterparts. Even though they know English well, sometimes they feel more comfortable speaking Korean."
Many of the participants' speech topics covered their personal experiences in Korea and their love for KATUSAs and Korean citizens.
Spc. Sean Santos, 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion, the winner of the English-Korean speech contest delivered his Korean speech on the topic of 'KATUSAs who stood by me during my time in Korea.'
Santos explained how when he first came to Korea, he didn't know anyone. However, he talked about how KATUSAs would hang out with him on the weekends and how they introduced him to the Korean culture.
"They made me feel like I could go through anything," Santos said with a smile. "I will never forget that."
After the contestants' speeches, the panel of judges each briefly spoke about how impressed they were with the participants' language proficiency and in-depth topics.
They were surprised not only with contestants' Korean abilities but also with how well they overcame their nervousness and successfully delivered their speeches in front of the audience. In addition, they hoped this contest could be a stepping stone for consolidating the ROK-U.S. alliance.
"It was a great opportunity to get to know the KATUSA Soldiers better, as well as the Korean culture and mindset on a personal level, the more I learned about their language," said Tran. "In this sense, I really think that this contest promotes the ROK-U.S. interaction in an individual level, which is what really strengthens the alliance."