Ministry of Defense strengthens ROK-US ties with Korean cultural tour

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense facilitated a tour for 50 United States Forces Korea service members, which included professional tour guides who taught the troops about the history, geopolitics, industry, agriculture and military importance of Jejudo, or Jeju Island.

The MND hosted and underwrote the Cultural Orientation Program to Jeju Island Sept. 11-13, 2018. The MND uses the annual tour, which dates back to 1972, to express friendship and appreciation for U.S. military contributions to peace and security in Korea.

“The goal of this tour is to contribute to the strengthening of the ROK-US alliance by introducing Korean history and culture to USFK service members, expanding interest and understanding of Korea and promoting friendship between the two countries,” said ROK Army Maj. Kyunghwa You, MND Spiritual Force and Culture Affairs Policy Division. “These events are held five times a year and introduce the history and culture of Korea including taekwondo camp, Chungcheong Province, Gyeonsang Province, Jeju Island, and Honam Region traditional culture experience. These increase the understanding and appreciation of Korean culture through experiences about beautiful scenery, history and traditional culture of Korea.”

One of the trip’s highlights was a hike to the summit of Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other highlights included a visit to South Korea’s 9th Marine Brigade which is headquartered at Jeju, as well as a visit to Yakchun Temple and Cheonjeyeon Falls.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Nicholas Stout, Korean linguist, found the three-day trip to be busy, but informative and entertaining.

“It’s been a good experience,” Stout said. “They’ve found a way to put a lot of things into a small amount of time. If someone were to come down here by themselves, they wouldn’t be able to do all this in the same amount of time we have. We had a tour guide who was very knowledgeable and it’s been really great.”

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