Samia Mounts

Spotlight on You: Samia Mounts

US military leaves mixed legacy in Seoul as move south gains momentum

by: Kim Gamel | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: February 27, 2018

SEOUL, South Korea — Samia Mounts, a 34-year-old singer and author, grew up in a small American town with a twist. It was in the heart of Seoul surrounded by concrete walls topped with concertina wire.

For decades, the Army’s Yongsan Garrison has offered American troops and their families all the trappings of home even as a burgeoning Asian metropolis sprouted up around it.

“I was really struck by the juxtaposition of this really safe, heavily fortified military compound where all these people are trying to live normal, quote unquote, American lives” and the city outside, said Mounts, whose father was an Air Force officer assigned to Yongsan in 1989.

Most South Koreans were left to wonder what was inside the sprawling 630-acre installation, which includes several smaller bases and is bisected into a main post and south post by a busy thoroughfare near the trendy neighborhood of Itaewon.

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Photo Caption:
Samia Mounts stands in front of her old house at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. KIM GAMEL/STARS AND STRIPES

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