Special week fortifies U.S.-ROK bond

by Pfc. Jihun Jeong
U.S. Army

CAMP HENRY, Daegu, Korea - Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army and U.S. Soldiers participated in a KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week, July 9-13 at various locations in Area IV here.

The weeklong annual event served to honor the more than half a century KATUSAs have served alongside U.S. Soldiers with a common purpose to defend freedom and maintain peace on the Korean peninsula. Area IV Soldiers gathered to celebrate this special bond with a verity of events that took place throughout the week

This year's events began with a friendship run along the Nakdong River in Waegwan. Soldiers then attended an opening ceremony and experienced cultural performances that included Taekwondo, traditional Korean drums called Samulnori, and K-Pop dance. Later in the week Soldiers experienced Korean traditional foods and drinks like Korean rice cake called "Ddeok" and a traditional cinnamon drink called Sujung-gwa. Participants were also taught how to write their own names in traditional Korean calligraphy.

"I had so much fun learning about Korean culture with the KATUSAs and seeing all the performances," said Spc. Jeffrey W. Medina Jr., a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and is a native of Los Angeles, California. "Serving with KATUSAs is such a different and unique experience that I never encountered before serving in the U.S. Army. I think the bond U.S. and KATUSA soldiers share is a very special."

Friendly sporting competitions were also held during the week to enhance unit cohesion. Various Area IV units competed in basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball for a chance to earn a winning title. Soldiers also performed together on stage for a talent show, showing off their dance and singing skills.

"Seven battle buddies from my battalion and I prepared a K-Pop dance performance, giving up our personal time from for practice," said Pfc. Hanbyeol Cho, a KATUSA assigned to the 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, 35 Air Defense Artillery Brigade, whose K-Pop group dance performance won 1st place out of the 12 teams that participated in the talent show. "The practices were physically challenging, but it was all worth it in the end because not only did we get first place, but we also got really good reaction from our American audience. Our goal was to spread Korean culture and music to U.S. Soldiers, and we are happy we fulfilled that goal."

The KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week culminated with a closing ceremony held at the Camp Henry Theater. During the closing ceremony, winners of the sporting events and the talent show were recognized. Through this annual event, U.S. and KATUSA Soldiers continue to strengthen a special bond forged by their predecessors since the beginning of the Korean War.

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