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Senior NCO culture tour
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Choi Jung-Hyun, tour guide, talks about points along a trail up Mount Busosan in Buyeo, Korea, during an 8th Fighter Wing and 38th Fighter Group senior NCO culture tour Aug. 10. Mount Busosan is the site of Buso Mountain Fortress, the Baekje Dynasty’s fortress, which fell in 660. The tour gave the Wolf Pack and Republic of Korea Air Force members the opportunity to experience Korean culture while building the U.S. and ROKAF alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah)
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Wolf Pack, ROKAF senior NCOs experience Korean culture

Posted 8/16/2010   Updated 8/16/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/16/2010 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Senior NCOs from the 8th Fighter Wing and the 38th Fighter Group, Republic of Korea Air Force, climbed an ancient mountain, dined on a traditional meal, and learned about Korean history during a cultural tour Aug. 10.

The tour took the group of 20 Wolf Pack Airmen and 20 ROKAF members to sites focused on the Baekje Dynasty, one of the three Kingdoms in ancient Korea from 18 B.C. to 660. The sites rest in the town of Buyeo, South Korea.

"I wanted to let the 8th Fighter Wing Airmen know about the traditions and history of Korea," said Chief Master Sgt. Choi Sang-Gi, 38th Fighter Group chief. "I also wanted to keep the Wolf Pack and ROKAF relationship close."

The chief thanked everyone for coming before they trekked up Mount Busosan, the site of Buso Mountain Fortress, the Baekje Dynasty's fortress.

Chief Master Sgt. James Sanders, 8th FW command chief, thanked Chief Choi for inviting them and said this was the first of "hopefully many more joint events to come."

"We are very honored you wanted to show us your history and culture, and build the U.S. and ROKAF alliance," Chief Sanders said. "We will plan an American event for us to attend together soon."

Senior Master Sgt. Yasmeen Wilson, 8th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, attended the tour.

"I came to learn more about Korean history and culture," she said. "I wanted to take advantage of this cultural opportunity and to build a stronger friendship and bond with our ROKAF partners."

As the group reached the summit of Mount Busosan, they stopped at the Baekhwajeong Pavilion at Nakhwaam Rock. Although the pavilion was built in 1929, it was built in memory of the women of Baekje who jumped off the cliff, which is 120 feet above sea level, when the Baekje dynasty fell in 660. The women committed suicide to avoid living a life of dishonor, and the cliff was later named Nakhwaam, the place where flowers fell.

The senior NCOs then walked a trail to Goransa Temple, which was built on the site of the king's sacred garden, 400 years after the garden was destroyed. There is a mineral water spring at the temple, and the group's tour guide told the legend of an old couple that was envied in their town, but who had no children.

"The old lady was told that if her husband drank from the stream, it would have a positive effect," said Choi Jung-Hyun. "So she sent her husband to the stream, but he did not return. After two days she went to find him, but found a baby wearing her husband's clothes. She had forgotten to tell him that each drink would make him three years younger."

Master Sgt. Michael Young, 8th Communications Squadron, marveled at the historical sites.

"This is great; there are historical sites in America, but nothing this old, and there's so much we can still see today," said Sergeant Young. "It's very interesting to see so much Korean history and spend time with our ROKAF allies."

After walking back down Mount Busosan and enjoying a traditional Korean meal, the group was taken to Gungnamji pond, which means "pond in the south from palace," because it is located south of the Baekje Palace. The pond was built 1,400 years ago and was filled with water from eight kilometers away. It features willow trees and lotus flower gardens circling the pond, and an island with a pavilion, Poryongjeong, in the middle. It is believed the pond was built for the Baekje people to pray for eternal youth.

The final stop on the tour was to the Baekje Historical Museum. The museum features more than 1,100 relics from the Baekje period, shown in four exhibition halls depicting the history; life and culture; spirit; and tradition of Baekje.

As the tour came to an end, everyone de-boarded the bus and thanked Chief Choi for the glimpse into Korean culture and the bonding time with ROKAF senior enlisted leaders.

"I had a really interesting time and enjoyed the tour and the chance to interact with Americans," said Senior Master Sgt. Yoo Jin-Sun, 38th FG member.



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