A Fond Farewell to the Land of the Morning Calm

Flag of the Republic of KoreaThis is my last night in Korea after being here 377 days. I came on orders reluctantly, not wanting to leave my family or the position I was in, but as everyone who wears the uniform understands, when Uncle Sam says “go,” we either go or we get out. Since I believed that God still wanted me serving as a Chaplain in the Army, I “saluted the flag,” packed my bags, and said “goodbye” to my family.

BDE Hail and Farewell
Brian, Eric, Me and Maya at our BDE UMT Hail and Farewell

After arriving, however, I discovered that my new unit of assignment was a great one that I would enjoy being a part of while ministering to its Soldiers and encouraging and equipping the chaplains in the subordinate battalions. Those chaplains, Eric, Maya and Brian, proved to be great chaplains and grew to be good friends. I also appreciated the chaplain assistants and KATUSAs both in the battalions and my UMT in the BDE, SSG Pagan, SSG Kendrick and CPL Kim. Had this been all that this year included, it would have made the sacrifice of the year worth it.

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Me with Young Ho Kim, a chaplain in the ROKA

Through my Army assignment to the Yongsan area, I also reconnected with chaplain friends from previous assignments and attendance at the Chaplain School. In C4, I met Young Ho Kim, who is a chaplain in the ROK Army. It was nice to run into him again at a joint training event we both attended. Sean was another chaplain I got to know at C4, who along with his wife were very kind to me while in Korea without family, inviting me out and checking in on me.

Me, Sean and Jorge at Mr. Kabab
Me, Sean and Jorge at Mr. Kabab

Then there are the other chaplains who I met here and got to know a bit as we worked together to provide religious support to the USAG Yongsan: Chaplain Kim, Mark Lee and Brian Oh of USAG Yongsan Religious Support Office; Yun Kim who was pastoring the Traditional Protestant Service when I arrived, who I took over from; Jorge Budez who pastored the Episcopal service where I attended many times (and even preached once) and who also covered for me; Jamison Bowman who was on rotation in Korea; Chaplains Wheatley and Morris in the 8th Army Command Chaplains Office; and finally Martin Cho who I was in the same CHOBC with and now he has come to replace me as Brigade Chaplain; all just to name a few. I look forward to running into these chaplains again as we continue to serve.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The final group photo of the congregation taken on our last Sunday together as a congregation

My additional assignment as pastor of the USAG Yongsan Traditional Protestant Congregation was a rewarding experience. I didn’t think after just a year in the congregation that I would grow so attached, but they are great people who became great friends and our times of worship and fellowship were very meaningful. I will not soon forget the blessings that I received through this congregation!

Ilsan Lake Park
John and me by the Lake.

There was so much more that I experienced in Korea that multiplied the blessings of the last 377 days. I met John Eun Yup Kim online before arriving in Korea and soon connected with him and and his family who provided a warm welcome and great introduction to Korea. John  helped me attend the Korea National District Assembly and later invited me to preach at his church.

Eoulrim Church of the Nazarene
Bashir and I

I met Bashir Asim Gil, from Pakistan, at the District Assembly, and we got together several more times (including in his home with his wonderful family), culminating in my visiting the church where he ministers my last Sunday in Korea and getting to preach at the English Service. Both John and Bashir have become good friends who I hope to keep in touch with for years to come and hopefully see them at Nazarene gatherings somewhere in the world!

Fortunately, we had our KATUSA to translate for us!
Me with my KATUSA, my new Chaplain Assistant and my old Chaplain Assistant at a restaurant in Suwon

As I was preparing to come to Korea, I thought that due to its proximity to other Asian nations, that I would get to visit countries like China and Japan, not to mention many areas of South Korea, but it turned out that I didn’t do much traveling besides my many trips to Suwon with my Soldiers and a “Staff Ride” to the DMZ. I didn’t even visit some of the interesting sites in the Seoul area that most tourists make sure to see. This is kind of disappointing, but as I look back over my posts on this blog and see the many things that I did do, I’m satisfied that my year here was anything but wasted and I have many experiences and friendships to show for my time.

While I have really enjoyed my time in Korea, I really miss my family and home so am anxious to get back to them. But I take back with me many great memories of the people I’ve met and the places I’ve visited. I continue to be blessed when I think of the times I’ve been able to worship with Korean Nazarenes and the military congregations on post. I return to the Untied States with a better appreciation of the work of the military in this part of the world and the challenges faced by ministers and churches seeking to reach people in this country. I will cherish the memories and and friendships that have been made and continue to thank God for the blessings they have brought.

So to everyone who has been such a blessing to me this year: thank you, thank you, thank you! I pray that God will return to you many times the blessing you have been to me!

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Advanced Missile Defense Coming to Korea

NK-Submarine-Missile-Launch
(Photo from Sputnik News website)

The peace that exists on the Korean Peninsula continues to be a precarious one based on the Armistice Agreement signed in 1953 ending the combat operations of the Korean War. Over the years there have been many provocations that have resulted in both military and civilian deaths and drawing observers to the edge of their seats.

With the recent missile tests that North Korea has engaged in, it has become necessary for the Republic of Korea (ROK, commonly referred to as South Korea) and those who assist in protecting its people to step up their defensive posture. United States Forces Korea (USFK) has recently announced the culmination of discussions between the ROK and U.S.A. resulting in the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto South Korean territory.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)
North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)

Other countries have already voiced their disapproval over the deployment of THAAD to Korea (not surprisingly, Russia, China and North Korea) and with the way nation-level thugs often respond to defensive measures as though they were offensive, I’m glad that my tour of duty in Korea is coming to an end, though I remain concerned for the Korean friends I have made here, and all of those who live under the continued specter of war. According to the U.S. Pacific Command’s Facebook page:

North Korea’s nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

In response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the United States and the ROK have been conducting formal consultations regarding the feasibility of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery operated by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) since early February, as a measure to improve the missile defense posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Based on these consultations, the ROK and the United States made an Alliance decision to deploy THAAD to USFK as a defensive measure to ensure the security of the ROK and its people, and to protect Alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats.

Through the past months of review, the ROK-U.S. Joint Working Group confirmed the military effectiveness of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula and is in the final stage of preparing its recommendation for both the ROK Minister of National Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding the optimal site in the Republic of Korea for the system’s effectiveness and for environmental, health, and safety requirements.

The ROK and the United States are working closely to ensure the swift deployment of THAAD and will develop specific operational procedures.

When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations. The THAAD deployment will contribute to a layered missile defense that will enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.1

And here’s the official press release from USFK:

July 8, 2016 — YONGSAN GARRISON, SEOUL, Republic of Korea – The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States of America (U.S.) agreed today to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the Republic of Korea, in response to North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of six United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

This Alliance decision was recommended by ROK Minister of Defense Han, Min Gu and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea commander, and was approved by the ROK and U.S. governments.

“This is an important ROK-U.S. decision,” said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea commander. “North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction require the Alliance to take this prudent, protective measure to bolster our layered and effective missile defense.”

The decision to deploy THAAD underscores the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the Republic of Korea. THAAD will be focused solely on North Korea and will contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.

This announcement follows the February 7, 2016, announcement that the ROK and U.S. had begun formal consultations regarding improvements to the Alliance missile defense posture, specifically the viability of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system operated by U.S. Forces Korea.2

This is an illustration of how THAAD and the current Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems will work:

 Ãà»çÇÏ´Â ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀå (¼­¿ï=¿¬ÇÕ´º½º) ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀåÀÌ 14ÀÏ ¼­¿ï Àá½Ç ·Ôµ¥È£ÅÚ¿¡¼­ ¿­¸° ÇÑÀÏ ±¹±³Á¤»óÈ­ 50Áֳ⠱â³ä¡®ÇÑÀÏ ¿ìÈ£ °ü±¤ ±³·ùÀÇ ¹ã¡¯Çà»ç¿¡¼­ Ãà»ç¸¦ ÇÏ°í ÀÖ´Ù. 2015.2.14 <> photo@yna.co.kr/2015-02-14 23:40:23/
(Graphic from The Korea Herald website)

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There are many places around the world that need our prayer, places where people not only live under the risk of armed conflict, but daily their citizens are being persecuted, tortured or killed. Most of us can’t go into those areas to help, but as believers we can pray for them. Pray that evil will not triumph. Pray that the faith of believers will remain strong under the most brutal trials. Pray that Jesus will return soon to put an end to Satan’s reign over the hearts of so many who cause terror in our world today.

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U.S. Pacific Command Facebook page

U.S. Forces Korea webpage

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Suwon Hyanggyo Confucian School (수원향교)

In the city of Suwon, not far from the Hwaseong Fortress where I take Soldiers new to the brigade, is the Suwon Hyanggyo Confucian Temple and School. It “is one of the Confucian temple and school[s established] to teach local students in the Chosŏn Dynasty period (1392~ 1910). The Suwon Hyanggyo houses the memorial tables of Confucius, Mencius, and twenty-five notable historical Korean figures. The structure was originally built in the 22nd year of King Wonjong’s rule during the Goryeo era (918-1392) by Hwaseonggun, but was moved to its current location when Hwaseong Fortress was constructed.”1

I stumbled across it on one of our trips when I walked a different direction, trying to explore other areas of Suwon. I wasn’t able to go into any of the buildings the day I was there, but took several pictures of the buildings and art.

Suwon Hyanggyo
“The Suwon Hyanggyo, one of the national educational institutions of the Joseon Dynasty period, originally located at Bongdam-myun, Hwaseong-si, moved to Paldal mountain in 1789 (Jeongjo 13).
Hamabi and Hongsalmun displays its authority and building arrangements follow Junhakhumyo conventions (Myungryundang: frong, Daesungjeon: back). Masonries made of rectangular stones level up the floor height from the wuesammun to the Daesungjeon (Ikgonggae building with ornamented double-eave-gable-roof).
Memorial tablets of 18 saints of Korea along with those of Confucius, Mencius are enshrined. As Confucianism head temple and historic sight known for the visits of JeongJo (1795), ceremonies for saints are carried out until today, although it stopped functioning as an educational institution after the Gapoh reformation.”
Suwon Hyanggyo
Beside the compound is the memorial of some kind.
Suwon Hyanggyo
This artwork is on a wall in the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
This artwork was on a wall in the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
One of the traditional buildings on the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
Another building on the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
More buildings on the compound, with a statue of Confucius at one end.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A closer view of the statue of Confucius.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A view of the traditional part of the compound from above
Suwon Hyanggyo
A building above the traditional part of the compound which I think is part of it.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A pagoda beside the above building. It looks like it was sponsored by the Lion’s Club.

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Visit Korea website

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The Sin of Patriotism?

american-and-christian-flags1It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the United States of America. Here in Korea, you wouldn’t know it from any other day (unless, of course, you’re on a U.S. military installation). But with the benefit of the Internet, there’s no escaping it…though personally I wouldn’t want to. I celebrate with millions of other Americans our hard-won independence from Great Britain 240 years ago.

Much of what I’m seeing in my Facebook feed, however, is not a positive response to it being the 4th of July. I’m not judging, but from where I sit, many of those posters seem to be speaking from their holier-than-thou ivory towers to us lowly patriotic souls who are in need of their superior spiritual insight and understanding of the mind of God. Let me explain:

First, they condemn our fight for independence as contrary to the scriptural mandate to be obedient to the powers in place over us as being instituted by God. They view the situation on the American continent of the 18th century through 21st century glasses, presuming to understand the situation our political forefathers and mothers experienced better than those who were living it.

Continue reading original post at my personal blog site . . .

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Closing Down a Worship Service

Wherever a chaplain is assigned, in addition to his/her assigned duties, they are expected to also be involved in religious support to the garrison where they’re located. Often this means being part of one of the on-post worship services. This has been the case for me while in Yongsan, South Korea. I have been the pastor of the Traditional Protestant Congregation who worshiped at Memorial Chapel on Main Post, for the year that I’ve been in Korea.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The final group photo of the congregation taken on our last Sunday together as a congregation

I’ve mentioned before about the movement of U.S. forces from all over Korea to USAG Humphreys near Pyeongtek. This is beginning to impact religious support at USGA Yongsan as there are fewer chaplains to support the multiple worship services. Today (26 June 2016), this impact became real for the congregation I have been pastoring as we celebrated the final service of this congregation which has been active in Yongsan for over 25 years. Beginning next week, the attendees will begin attending one of the other remaining services on post.

Here are a few pictures of the final service and the fellowship brunch we enjoyed together at Greenstreet at Dragon Hill Lodge following the service.

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Richard always opens our service with announcements and birthday/anniversary greetings.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Passing the Peace
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The Scripture being read by one of the congregation members who has attended for 15 years.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The choir is unbelievable. The choir director is a paid contractor who studied in the U.S. Many choir members come just to work with him.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Dr. Rev. Lee studied in the U.S. and has been singing for the congregation for 10 years.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Our musician (at the piano) is also a paid contractor. She’s great on both the piano and the organ.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
On this last Sunday, we celebrated Communion by Intinction.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The Parish Advisory Council (PAC) gave a gift to some of the congregation who volunteered in different capacities.
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The mug the PAC gave chapel volunteers (and me).
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
Angel first came to Korea to fight in the Korean War. Since he’s been back (near the beginning of the congregation over 25 years ago) he has been serving the congregation in many ways.

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After the service we went to one of the restaurants at the Dragon Hill Lodge on post (Greenstreet) and enjoyed the Brunch Buffet:

IMG_20160626_112956360 IMG_20160626_113247220 IMG_20160626_114140634 IMG_20160626_114229882 IMG_20160626_114856648

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Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
This couple has been part of the congregation for about 15 years. They’re there nearly every Sunday!
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
This couple has attended for about 10 years. The man was also a regular usher.

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Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
The congregation gave me this plaque in appreciation for leading the congregation for the past year (I’ll replace the picture of the congregation with the one we took today).
Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
I had these bookmarks made for everyone in attendance at our final service.

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Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
I was surprised at how much the congregation touched me in just a year. Here’s the “farewell” letter I put in the bulletin.

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Here are some other pictures of Memorial Chapel where the Traditional Protestant  Congregation has worshiped for over 25 years:

Yongsan Memorial Chapel
Here’s an artist’s drawing of Memorial Chapel on USAG Yongsan

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Chapel

Yongsan Memorial Capel
The front of Memorial Chapel on USAG Yongsan

Here’s a short video showing the sanctuary changing from Catholic to Protestant worship

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Unification Church in South Korea

IMG_20160527_211311007
From left to right: Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and the Koran.

Out walking the other day, I passed a curious statute that I had to return to with my camera. What it turned out to be was part of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, better known as its name prior to 1994 when Rev. Sun Myung Moon consolidated his several organizations, Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity  or the Unification Church. Many non-Unificationists (as they prefer to be called) may know them best as “Moonies” though this is viewed as a derogatory term by adherents.

The founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in what is now North Korea. Moon was raised a Presybeterian, but according to Moon, on Easter when he was 15, Jesus appeared to him commissioning him to complete the work that Jesus had started. In the 1950s, after being excommunicated from the Presbetyerian Church for his unorthodox beliefs, Moon founded his church which today boasts several hundred thousand adherents around the world.

Interestingly, Moon has had quite a bit of trouble with the law both in South Korea and the United States where he spent 13 months in prison for tax evasion.

The Unification Church views the apostle Paul as the founder of Christianity, who codified the teachings of Jesus into a formal religion. Hell is accepted as being present on Earth now, but in time will become Heaven on Earth. They also view Communism as an expression of Satan and link it with Cain, while viewing Democracy as the expression of God and link it with Abel.

They also believe that Eve had a sexual affair with Lucifer which caused the spiritual fall of humankind. Before she was married to Adam, she also had premarital sexual relations with him, causing the physical fall of humankind. Their marriage produced an imperfect family allowing Satan to have control of the world.

The remedy to this problem was for Jesus (the 2nd “Adam”) to form the perfect marriage to redeem humankind, but he was crucified before he could complete his mission. His spiritual resurrection did secure spiritual salvation for humankind, but because Jesus wasn’t able to complete his mission, physical salvation is not possible in this lifetime. Therefore, a third “Adam” is needed to provide complete salvation for humankind. According to the Resurrection Church, this 3rd Adam was born in Korea between 1917 and 1930 and his appearance will be recognized as the 2nd coming of Christ. This 3rd Adam will marry, producing the perfect family, enabling complete salvation for those who choose it.  Many Unificationists had viewed Rev. Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han (his 2nd) as this perfect family, the “true spiritual parents of humankind” but he died in 2012, having appointed his youngest son,  Hyung Jin Moon, his successor in 2008.

The Unification Church is known for their mass weddings. Many times, the couples do not know who they will marry until a month before the ceremony, sometimes not meeting them until that day. They can, however, not participate in the wedding without shame. The newlyweds do not consumate their marriage for 40 days, representing the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. The church emphasizes the importance of the family and encourages times of family study and devotion.

Exact membership numbers are hard to determine but are said to be in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, with about 5,000 in the U.S. It appears that membership in South Korea is not significant enough to appear anywhere but in the “others” column of religious adherents.

Here are some pictures I took of Cheon Bok Gung Church of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Seoul:

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Cheon Bok Gung Church Seoul
The announcement board outside of the Cheon Bok Gung Church in Seoul
Cheon Bok Gung Church
This view of the church building shows the symbol of the Unification Church designed by Sun Myung Moon the elements of which have these meanings: “The center circle symbolizes God, truth, life, and light, the four elements that reach out or radiate from this origin to the whole cosmos in 12 directions. The number 12 represents the 12 types of human character and that truth (the Principle) is able to spread out in 12 ways (such as in the 12 tribes and 12 disciples). According to Moon, the structure of the heavenly kingdom is also patterned after this system of 12. The outer circle represents the harmony of giving and receiving action, the principle of the cosmos. The square represents the four position foundation. The symbol is used on Blessing Ceremony rings, jewelry, on churches and in publications.” (RF site)
Cheon Bok Gung Church
This is the view that caught my eye on my walk…I thought that looked like Jesus on the right…

 

Cheon Bok Gung Church
As you walk in the main entrance, your eyes are drawn to a round room in the center surrounded by blocks and pillars.

Cheon Bok Gung Church

Cheon Bok Gung Church
To the right is a small cafe.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
To the left and behind are a number of personalized tiles.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
By the information desk at the entrance is a schedule of the services offered.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
The round room in the center is the “Jeongseong Room.” According to the sign in front of it, this room is an area for offering prayer and jeongseong in silence. Before entering, pray-ers are to remove their shoes and be careful not to fall into the water, which doesn’t have a cover.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On the left side of the Jeongseong Room is a picture of Buddha.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On the right side of the Jeongseong Room is a picture of Jesus.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
The Cheon Bok Gung Church is housed in a large building with space for worship, prayer. lectures, conferences and education.
Cheon Bok Gung Church
On an outside door of the building is a saying which found nearly anywhere might be a good one: “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved…forever.”

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A brochure with the order of worship for the Cheon Bok Gung Church

 

 

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All photos were taken by the author. Information for this post was gathered from the following sites:

Religious Tolerance website, “The Unification Church…”

Religion Facts website, “Unification Church”

Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-USA

The Unification Church, “Rev. and Mrs. Moon”

Wikipedia, “Unification Church”

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Camp Humphreys, Korea

As a chaplain, when I visit a new post, the first things I like to visit are the chapels, followed by chaplain’s offices and work areas, then memorials and cemeteries, finally historical points of interest…that is, of course, after I visit my chaplains or accomplish the mission I’m there for. I state that first, to explain why the majority of pictures I’m going to share in this post are of those things.

Humphreys-CW2-Humphreys Memorial Plaque-croppedCamp Humphreys or United States Army Garrison (USAG) Humphreys, is a U.S. Army post near Pyeongtaek, beside Anjeong-ri. Humphreys is about 55 miles Southwest of Seoul (at least an hour and a half drive depending on traffic). What is now Camp Humphreys began as Pyeongteak Airfield in 1919 by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea. The Air Force rebuilt it during the Korean War and renamed it K-6, then in 1962 it was renamed Camp Humphreys in honor of CW2 Benjamin K. Humphreys of the 6th Transporation Company (Light Helicopter). Humphreys was killed in a helicopter accident on 13 November 1961 near Osan-Ni, Kyung-Gi Do, Korea. Camp Humphreys is home to Desiderio Army Airfield, said to be the busiest Army airfield in Asia.

Camp Humphreys is rapidly growing since it has been chosen as the new home for most of the nearly 30,000 U.S. Army troops in South Korea to include the headquarters of United States Forces Korea (USFK). By the time the move is complete, Camp Humphreys will spread over 3500 acres.

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Chapels

When building is complete, there will be a total of four chapels on Camp Humphreys. Here is a look at what’s been built so far and what is coming:

Camp Humphreys Main Post Chapel
Artist’s conception of the mid-size chapel being built in the Main Post area of Camp Humphreys. It is scheduled to be complete by December 2016 and will be called Freedom Family Life Chapel.

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Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
When construction is complete there will be two of these troop chapels on Camp Humphreys. This one is expected to be named Pacific Victors Chapel, the other Indian Head Chapel.
Camp Humphreys Troop Chapel
Inside of one of the Troop Chapels on Camp Humphreys

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Camp Humphreys Chapel
This is what will be the main chapel on post when complete in August 2016. It’s located across the street from the Elementary School and is expected to be named Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel.

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Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park sits on a hill and covers about 42,900 square meters. It includes several picnic pavilions, a disc golf course, the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park and trails and walkways through a wooded area. Beacon Hill is also a protected area, having “potential buried cultural resources” from after the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). According to the sign on the hill:

The Beacon Hill area shall be preserved due to the presence of buried cultural resources. Several artifacts, such as a piece of bluish-gray celadon and a piece of white celadon, were detected at the ground surface. Also, many historical graves were scattered throughout an area 42,900 square meters (m2). Other cultural resources may be buried within the area that have so far [not] been unearthed. Developing the area should be minimized as much as possible…

Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
The picnic pavilions in Beacon Hill Park were built in 1989 by 22nd KSC CO.
Camp Humphreys Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park has a nice wooded area.
USAG Humphreys Memorial Park
Located in Beacon Hill Part is the USAG Humphreys Memorial Park.

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Various Buildings

Even with over 3500 acres, space is at a premium as they build sufficient infrastructure and headquarters for the influx of troops and family members to Camp Humphreys. Many areas resemble the cities of Korea with high rise buildings and large above and below ground parking garages. Here are a few pictures of some of the buildings being built or already occupied on Camp Humphreys.

Camp Humphreys Family Housing
One of the family housing complexes. This is a cluster of three semi-high rises with underground parking.

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Camp Humphreys Barracks
Some of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys High Rise Barracks
A few more of the semi-high rise barracks buildings
Camp Humphreys Super Gym
The new Fitness Center, locally known as the “Super Gym.”
Camp Humphreys Picnic Pavilions
Picnic Pavilions outside of the Super Gym.

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BDE HQ Building
This building complex will be my new BDE HQ once completed. The taller building is for the BDE, the smaller one in front will be home to two of the BNs.

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Camp Humphreys HQ
Another one of the HQ buildings being built on Camp Humphreys…there’s a whole row of them!

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Camp Humphreys HQ
Another HQ on “Headquarters Row”

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Morning Calm Conference Center
In the distance is the Morning Calm Conference Center. Beside it is being built a large expansion of Humphreys Lodge.

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Army Aviation

As mentioned above, Desiderio Army Airfield is the busiest Army airfield in Asia. Here are a few unclassified pictures of Army aircraft.

Camp Humphreys
A couple of Kiowa Warriors
Camp Humphreys Chinooks
A group of Chinook helicopters parked on the airfield
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
One of the fixed-wing planes operated by one of my BNs.
Camp Humphreys Army Aviation
A Kiowa Warrior taking off from the airfield.
Camp Humphreys Cobra
A mounted attack helicopter in front of a BN of the 2nd CAB.
Camp Humphreys helicopter
Another helicopter mounted in front of BN HQs of the 2nd CAB.

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Here’s a video produced by USAG Humphreys which shows much of Camp Humphreys from the air:

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There is still a lot of building taking place on Camp Humphreys, as well as in Pyeongtaek, which will provide more for Soldiers and families to do and make life both comfortable and enjoyable. Additionally, a fast-train line is being added to Pyeongtaek which will make travel to Seoul a lot quicker, providing even better access to more of what Korea has to offer.

It will be interesting to see Camp Humphreys in a few years when the transformation is complete.

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A Look at Suwon (수원)

Suwon is one of the Korean cities that I have visited most. It is the capital of Gyeonggi-do, which is South Korea’s most populous province. Suwon is located about 30 kilometers south of Seoul, South Korea’s capital, and has a population of over 1 million. Traditionally it was known as “The City of Filial Piety” and is home to the Hwaseong Fortress.

Hwaseong Fortress
One of the gates of Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress was built as part of a planned city constructed by King Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon Dynasty. It served as the southern gate of the capital city of Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Located in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, the area of Hwaseong Fortress served as a strategic site for military security as well as key site for commerce.

Today, Hwaseong Fortress is surrounded by many roads both small and large, in addition to the Gyeonggi Provincial Government Building, giving all the opportunity to view the scenic juxtaposition of old and modern architecture. For a quick and convenient way to visit a variety of attractions during your stay in Suwon, take a ride on the Suwon City Tour, operated by the city Government. Accompanied by guides who are proficient in English and Japanese, you’ll be able to ride in comfort as you discover some of the most celebrated treasures of the city.1

But there is much more to Suwon besides the fortress, including the Haenggung Palaces. Here are a few pictures of my walks around Suwon:

 Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
Main entrance to the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
 Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
A view of the Seo Jandae (command post) on the hill over Hwaseong Haenggung Palace.
Hwaseong Haenggung Palace tree
This Zelkova tree in front of the Hwaseong Palace was designated a Protected Tree in 1982. It is said to be 350 years old and represents the meaning that the prime minister and two other ministers greet a benignant person under this tree so as to be engaged in right politics.
Hwaseong Haenggung Palace
A warrior demonstration in front of the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace

Suwon
One of the busy side-streets of Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

 

Suwon
An American collectibles shop in Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
There’s a toy museum on the 2nd floor.

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A small traditional village museum
Suwon
A local artist who I bought some hand-painted magnets from
Suwon
One of the Buddhist temples on the weekend of Buddha’s birthday (thus, the paper lanterns).

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon

Suwon
The swastika was used before the Nazis adopted it. Here, it’s used as a symbol for Buddhism.
Suwon
In Buddhism, people eat a meal with their ancestors, rather in the “presence” of ancestors. This is a statue in Suwon where I noticed a man eating his lunch.

Suwon

Suwon
Notice the heads still on the chickens. Yum.

Suwon

Suwon

 

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1 http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_4_10_13.jsp

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Yeon Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival)

Friends from the service I worked in at Fort Leonard Wood showed up at my service in Yongsan (which was a nice surprise!) and invited me to go downtown with them to the Yeon Deung Hoe or Lotus Lantern Festival. This was the main weekend of a month-long celebration of the Buddha’s coming into the world (birthday). Attending the festival, at least for me, wasn’t an act of honoring or worshiping Buddha but rather of observing the cultural significance of Buddhism in Korea.

There were several downtown streets closed to vehicle traffic and lined with booths sponsored by different Buddhist orders. Much like many festivals in the U.S. there were crafts for children to make, teas to taste, temple foods to sample, and various causes to support.

There were large crowds everywhere. The smaller streets were more crowded.
There were large crowds everywhere. The smaller streets were more crowded.

The businesses and kiosks that normally line the streets were also open, providing a variety of Korean foods, arts and crafts, souvenirs and other special and routine products for sale.

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There was a main stage area in the center of the festivities where traditional Korean and, I assume, Buddhist performances were staged.

A Korean woman singing, with what resembled a conga line, though was probably supposed to be a dragon.
A Korean woman singing, with what resembled a conga line, though was probably supposed to be a dragon.

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Along the street, there were various ceremonies going on; some for people to watch, others for people to participate in.

Yeon Deung Hoe

Yeon Deung Hoe

Yeon Deung Hoe

And then there were street performers…

Yeon Deung Hoe
A couple of expats playing bluegrass.
Yeon Deung Hoe
This guy stands statute-still until someone puts money in his hat or approaches him.

There were also artists…

Yeon Deung Hoe

…and others needing assistance.

Yeon Deung Hoe

The festival was in the neighborhood of the large Jogye-sa Temple, which seemed to be a focal point of the festivities where people gathered in the temple to pray, participate in the Ceremony of Bathing Buddha and have their prayer requests attached to paper lanterns and hung over the Temple Square.

Yeon Deung Hoe
Decorations made of paper on the temple grounds
Jogye-sa temple
The Jogye-sa Temple
The Jogye-sa Temple
Inside the Jogye-sa Temple

The Jogye-sa Temple
Inside The Jogye-sa Temple
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Nice detailed painting on the outside of The Jogye-sa Temple
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Nice detailed painting on the outside of The Jogye-sa Temple
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Nice detailed painting on the outside of The Jogye-sa Temple
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Nice detailed painting on the outside of The Jogye-sa Temple

According to Buddhist, The Ceremony of Bathing Buddha is a ritual to improve happiness and peace of mind. The sign outside of the temple states the proper way of bathing Buddha is to fill the ladle and pour water over the small Buddha statue three times. While pouring the water, the participant is to say during the 1st wash, “May I eliminate all evil thoughts.” During the 2nd wash, “May I cultivate good deeds.” And during the 3rd wash, “May I help save all living beings.”

Jogye-sa Temple
A Buddhist adherent participating in the Ceremony of Bathing Buddha
Jogye-sa Temple
There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of lanterns hanging all over the temple grounds with prayer requests from Buddhist adherents (and they’re pretty…)
Yeon Deung Hoe
Some of the floats from the parade the night before, on the temple grounds.
Yeon Deung Hoe
Some of the floats from the parade the night before, on the temple grounds.

All over the festival area there were lanterns made of hanji, which is a traditional handmade Korean paper made from mulberry bark. Most were very unique and detailed, beautiful works of art which reminded me of the variety of kites in the U.S.

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All along the streets and booths were varied and plenteous food offerings.

Yeon Deung Hoe
We passed several Turkish Ice Cream stands.
Yeon Deung Hoe
The dipping and serving was very entertaining.
Yeon Deung Hoe
And it was good ice cream
Yeon Deung Hoe
I did NOT try the octopus on a stick!
Yeon Deung Hoe
I did try a hot dog on a stick…covered in potatoes.
Yeon Deung Hoe
Hot Dog and French Fries in one hand. A convenient walking food!

We ate lunch at a small Korean seafood restaurant where we had a good sampling of fish and pancakes.

I'm not sure of the name of the restaurant we ate at, it may say it here...
I’m not sure of the name of the restaurant we ate at, it may say it here…
... or here.
… or here.
Jamie and Robyn and their two children, a family I got to know at Ft. Leonard Wood who recently arrived at USAG Yongsan. We ate at a little restaurant down a few side streets near the festival.
Jamie and Robyn and their two children, a family I got to know at Ft. Leonard Wood who recently arrived at USAG Yongsan. We ate at a little restaurant down a few side streets near the festival.
We ordered 2 or 3 different fish and a seafood pancake which turned out to be octopus.
We ordered 2 or 3 different fish and a seafood pancake which turned out to be octopus.
Our meal also came with the usual variety of side dishes.
Our meal also came with the usual variety of side dishes.

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Part of the fun of going to a festival is what you bring home. Here are a few things I picked up while walking around the area:

Korean art on rice paper
A painting of a traditional Korean village scene painted on rice paper.
Korean Mother of Pearl Box
I picked up this box at the Temple Gift Shop. “Mother-of-Pearl (najeon or jagae in native Korean) is a highly intricate decorative technique whose tradition in Korea has been kept alive for more than a thousand years. Pearl oyster, conch, and abalone shells are filed to reveal the iridescent inner layers. Thin strips are then inlaid into a black lacquered surface. The whole thing is pained again, and then the excess lacquer is carefully filed away to reveal the brillian and translucent colors of different patterns. Thus the common expression ‘najeon chilgi,’ where ‘chil’ means ‘painting.’
          Najeon chilgi is not just about shiny shells. Shell’s brillian colors come alive because of the pitch-black lacquer. Its true beauty is revealed not under bright lights, but under dim candle light or delicate sunlight seepin through Korean traditional windows covered in Korean paper ‘Light etched into darkness.’ Najeon chilgi is a thousand-year-old light of nature, the most intricate and beautiful of traditional lacquer-ware, and an applied art that represents Korea’s beautiful traditional aesthetics.”
The Temple Gift Shop had these paper models of the Four Heavenly Kings for sale and one of the booths in the festival were giving them away. I got the free ones, though I came home with just 2 of the Four Heavenly Kings. According to Buddhism, The Four Heavenly Kings are “gods” who watch over the four cardinal directions of the world. They are said to be the protectors of the world who fight evil and able to command a legion of supernatural creatures to protect the Dharma.
Four Heavenly Kings Jogye-sa Temple
A near life size stand up of one of The Four Heavenly Kings on the complex of Jogye-sa Temple.
Two of the Four Heavenly Kings at the Jogye-sa Temple complex.

 

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Soldier & KATUSA Spiritual Development Day

501st MI BDE Soldier & KATUSA Spiritual Development Day

Occasionally Unit Ministry Teams offer events to help Soldiers develop personally, professionally and spiritually. Our brigade UMT offered one such event today. We named it, “Soldier and KATUSA Spiritual Development Day.” Our plan was to have U.S. and Korean veterans from the Korean War to speak to our Soldiers, and I would provide a presentation on “Behaving Valiantly in War and Peace.” We would round out the day with a movie that explains the Korean experience, “Ode to My Father,” with lunch provided, of course.

MAJ Kim, the ROK Army officer in charge of our KATUSAs, introduced our guest speaker, MG Joon Hyung Ryu, with these comments (edited only for better translation):

The guest today is MG (Retired) Ryu, Joon Hyung who participated in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and served as the Deputy Commander of ROK-US Field Command.

The Korean War refers to the 3 year war which started  when North Korea invaded ROK at 0400 on June 25th with the support of the Soviet Union and lasted 1,129 days until both sides agreed to a truce at 1000 on July 27, 1953.

It was a tragic and fierce war that almost two million Soldiers among 26 nations took part in on this small peninsula. There were 620,000 ROKA, 160,ooo U.N., 930,000 North Korean, 1,000,000 Chinese, and 2,500,000 civilian casualties and also resulted in 10,000,000 separated family members, more than half of the 30,000,000 North and South Koreans.

Even now, the Korean Peninsula suffers from division after over 60 years.

MG Ryu was commissioned as a 1LT in November 1950 and is a war hero who stood up and defended Hill #854 on the eastern front line in Injaegoon, Gangwon Province from the final attack of the Chinese and North Korean armies. This battle is called the Battle of Ssangyong Highland.

MG Ryu was the first Korean to graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry Airborne School in 1957 and on 1 April 1958, he became the main founding member of the 1st Airborne Brigade which is now the Special Operations Command.

After that, he was deployed to the Vietnam War and distinguished himself serving on the command staff of various main units.

In 1980 he worked as the Commanding General of the 8th Infantry Division then in 1982, became the Deputy Commander of the ROK-US Field Command. In 1985 he retired as a Major General.

After retirement, he actively worked as the Chairman of the Korean Parachute Association and Defense Industry Association. Now he is the Chairman of the Patriot Lee Dong Hwi Memorial Organization who was head of the Military Ministry and the first Prime Minister.

I introduce to you ROK war hero, MG Ryu.

MG Ryu
MG Ryu (seated) with the interpreter

MG Ryu presented a history of Korea-International relations, highlighting relations with the United States and the significance and necessity of the Korean-U.S alliance. It was great to hear about history from one who was part of that history.

Me presenting a gift to MG Ryu for spending time with us
Me presenting a gift to MG Ryu for spending time with us
MAJ Kim (left) and me (right) with MG Ryu (center)
MAJ Kim (left) and me (right) with MG Ryu (center) after MAJ Kim gave gifts to MG Ryu to thank him for being with us

Coincidentally, the INSCOM Chaplain was visiting Korea so was in attendance and added to MG Ryu’s presentation, tying in the importance of what we, as U.S. Soldiers, do here in Korea and how even we are in the midst of making history as we preserve the peace and defend freedom on the Korean Peninsula.

The INSCOM Chaplain speaking to our group
The INSCOM Chaplain speaking to our group
The INSCOM Chaplain (left) talking to MG Ryu about his experiences
The INSCOM Chaplain (left) talking to MG Ryu about his experiences

Next, MAJ Kim also introduced the film, “Ode to My Father” with these comments:

The film you are going to see today is a Korean movie named “Ode to My Father,” or literally translated from the Korean, “International Marketplace.” It is a film about Korean fathers after the Korean War of the 1950s.

After the war, many people lost everything and some families were separated forever.

This movie depicts the heartbreaking story about fathers who had to travel to West Germany coal mine and sacrifice their lives in the Vietnam War just to rebuild the nation of Korea and protect their families.

My own mother was an only daughter of an affluent family in North Korea and was a refugee who fled from the Chinese Army’s invasion of ROK in a U.S. transportation ship. She is one of 10 million separated families due to the war.

The story of the movie is more than a random family’s history, it is a people’s history of overcoming [adversity] that all of ROK citizens had to suffer.

I hope this film will be a better opportunity to understand Korea and the Korean people.

MAJ Kim, ROKA (left), introducing MG Ryu with MAJ Kim's KATUSA/Interpreter (right).
MAJ Kim, ROKA (left), introducing MG Ryu with MAJ Kim’s KATUSA/Interpreter (right).

We provided lunch from Subway (which is always a treat) and showed the film which is the story of a family who was separated during the evacuation of North Korea as China was invading from the North.

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A group of Soldiers and KATUSAs from the BDE with MG Ryu (seated), the INSCOM Chaplain (left of MG Ryu) and me (right of MG Ryu). The interpreter is in a suit to my left.
A group of Soldiers and KATUSAs from the BDE with MG Ryu (seated), the INSCOM Chaplain (left of MG Ryu), MAJ Kim (far left) and me (right of MG Ryu). The interpreter is in a suit to my left.

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