USFK provides security education program for students to DMZ

by Jacqueline Kraft
USAG Yongsan Public Affairs

USAG Yongsan - The Demilitarized Zone and Joint Security Area are a must see for foreigners, but how familiar are Korean students with these places? Every Saturday the USFK Public Affairs Office runs the Student Security Education Program for Korean high school and college students to provide them with an awareness of the Korean War and the role of the U.S. military in Korea. USFK PAO’s Ms. Yi, Chi Yong is the coordinator for the allday program which includes a briefing in the morning, a tour of the Korean War Memorial museum followed by visits to Infiltration Tunnel 3, Mt. Dora Observatory and the Joint Security Area, all within the Korean DMZ. According to Yi, more than 16,000 students have participated in the program over the last four years.

This program was created in 2006 by Mr. Steve Tharp, the Strategic Outreach Chief, to provide security awareness to Korean youth. These tours are also available for foreign students, on a space-available basis, who want to learn more about Korean history.

“The Korean education system is really good, but it’s not really focused on history” said Tharp as he described the program. “We give them a little history class in the morning, we tell them about the Korean War and the period since, the north Korean threat and then we explain the role of the United Nations Command, the ROK-US Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea before we come up to the DMZ.”

High schools, universities and youth associations apply for the program so that their students can get a better understanding of USFK and the role it plays in defending the ROK. The tour is an eye-opening experience for the students and at the same time helps them to prepare for college essays on Korean history. Before the tour, students only knew that the Army was in Korea but didn’t know why, or how relations between the north and south have changed over the years. After the tour, they have a better understanding of how the U.S. supports in keeping their country safe.

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