SEOUL, Republic of Korea — Chief Warrant Officer 2 Susan Bostick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District Logistical Operations Officer, and Cadet Hilary Thomas from California Polytechnic State University, training with FED for the summer, attended a Korean cultural tour July 27-28.
The Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense sponsors several tours each year designed to introduce U.S. Forces Korea service members and their families to Korean history, customs, culture, and traditions. This particular tour included visits to Kyungbok Palace, Korean National Museum and a visit to the ROK Navy Base in Pyongtaek to see the recovered ROKS Cheonan. It also included a “Temple Stay,” a non-secular event which MND included based on feedback from previous USFK tours.
The “Temple Stay” portion provided the participants with the opportunity to live the life of a monk at a Buddhist temple. That includes getting up long before sunrise.
“We learned the different prayers, bows and ways of eating,” said Thomas. “Getting to participate in all of these events gave us a better understanding of the lifestyle of a monk.”
Bostick also was grateful for this enlightening opportunity.
“I thought the tour was very informative,” said Bostick. “I learned a lot about Buddhism and the richness of the Korean culture. The traditional meals were very good and the chance to properly use chop sticks was interesting.”
The visit to the ROKS Cheonan was Thomas’s favorite part of the tour.
“It was astounding to see the Cheonan lifted up right there in front of you in two pieces,” said Thomas. “As a service member it really resonated with me the sacrifice that those Sailors made for their country.”
The Korean naval vessel was sunk by a North Korean torpedo in 2010.
“The tour guide who led us around the ship provided very detailed and scientific reasoning as to how the ROK was so confident it had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo,” said Thomas.
One of the most highly visited National Treasures is the main palace of Korea’s Josen Dynasty, Kyungbok Palace, which was built in 1395.
“The architecture was amazing,” said Thomas. “It was so incredible to see the detail in the design and artworks withstand the test of time.”
Overall, the tour was well received by both Bostick and Thomas.
“The guides were excellent; they were very versed on the history and did an outstanding job at translating the information,” said Bostick. “Thank you for providing the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the Korean Culture.”