Cultural tours connect community with Pyeongtaek attractions

by Bang Hee-won
U.S. Army
PYEONGTAEK-SI, SOUTH KOREA -- Despite cold weather in Pyeongtaek, 25 Camp Humphreys' service members, Civilians and their Family members enjoyed the Pyeongtaek City Tour, hosted by Korea-America Cooperation Advisory Council (KACAC), Dec. 8. 
 
KACAC, based in Pyeongtaek, was established in July 2017 by the Republic of Korea - U.S. Cooperation Business Group retirees. The organization has been supporting various community relations cultural trips, through the Good Neighbor program, for Camp Humphreys.
 
"We organized this tour to share Korean tradition, culture and to communicate with Americans," said Kim Dong-sook, KACAC president. "So, the most important thing in planning a tour was mutual cooperation and communication. Also, KACAC wants to organize more tours which show the variety of Korea." 
 
During the tour, the group visited the Pyeongtaek Nong-ak (Korean traditional folk music) Preservation Society, Wootdali Cultural Village, and Korea Soriter Arts Center, to experience something unique and not commonly known to tourists. 
 
Pyeongtaek Nong-ak Preservation Society was founded in 1980, for the purpose of preserving Nong-ak and preventing locals from forgetting its impact on the community and to preserve history.
 
At the society headquarters, located in Pyeonggung-ri, volunteers attempted to play "Janggu," a Korean traditional hourglass-shaped drum. They also played "Beo-na," a Korean folk game involving spinning and balancing a plate in the air with a stick. Participants were then able to enjoy a front row seat to a musical performance.
 
The Wootdali Culture Village, once an elementary school, offers many programs such as natural dyeing, metal craft and pottery making. Participants had an opportunity to design their own mug.
 
"The tour was great," said Zachariah Siemers, a civilian contractor. "Making mugs with my kids was my favorite, and it was absolutely great. This is my second tour. If another tour opens, I will try to attend with my family."
 
The Korea Soriter Arts Center, near Pyeongtaek Lake, was established to foster cultural arts for the local community and provide Haegeum performances (a Korean traditional string instrument). Participants learned about Ji Young-hee, a Pyeongtaek native. He was nicknamed the "Father of Korean Folk Music" for his talent and the creation of Korean classical music.
 
"In spite of the chilly weather, it was a very good experience," said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Johnson, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Eighth Army. "The food, making pottery, instrument demonstration, and sightseeing at Pyeongtaek Lake, everything was good. If another tour opens in the future, I will definitely attend and recommend this to other people." 
 
To view coverage of past tours, visit the USAG-Humphreys Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages using the handle @USAGHumphreys.

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