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MND hosts cultural tour for U.S. service members

U.S. service members watch as taekwondo students perform during the Ministry of National Defense tour at Taekwondowon, Republic of Korea, July 11, 2019. Soldiers, Marines and Airmen also had the opportunity to receive a short lesson on hand-to-hand combat techniques from a taekwondo master. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

U.S. service members watch as taekwondo students perform during the Ministry of National Defense tour at Taekwondowon, Republic of Korea, July 11, 2019. Soldiers, Marines and Airmen also had the opportunity to receive a short lesson on hand-to-hand combat techniques from a taekwondo master. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

More than 50 U.S. service members received hands-on training from Juknokwon bamboo forest’s bamboo fan master during a tour at Juknokwon bamboo forest, Republic of Korea, July 10, 2019. The forest was one stop during the three-day tour hosted by ROK Ministry of National Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

More than 50 U.S. service members receive hands-on training from Juknokwon bamboo forest’s bamboo fan master during a tour at Juknokwon bamboo forest, Republic of Korea, July 10, 2019. The forest was one stop during the three-day tour hosted by ROK Ministry of National Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

U.S. service members stationed around the Korean Peninsula explore Juknokwon bamboo forest during a Ministry of National Defense tour at Damyang, Republic of Korea, July 10, 2019. Service members also had the opportunity to make a traditional Korean bamboo fan with Juknokwon’s bamboo fan masters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

U.S. service members stationed around the Korean Peninsula explore Juknokwon bamboo forest during a Ministry of National Defense tour at Damyang, Republic of Korea, July 10, 2019. Service members also had the opportunity to make a traditional Korean bamboo fan with Juknokwon’s bamboo fan masters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

Airmen from the 51st Fighter Wing mix together the ingredients to make gochujang, or Korean chili paste, during a Ministry of National Defense tour at Sunchang Gochujang village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. The Soldiers, Marines and Airmen participating in the tour also made tokbokki, a Korean street food dish made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, chili paste and broth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

Airmen from the 51st Fighter Wing mix together the ingredients to make gochujang, or Korean chili paste, during a Ministry of National Defense tour at Sunchang Gochujang village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. The Soldiers, Marines and Airmen participating in the tour also made tokbokki, a Korean street food dish made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, chili paste and broth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

More than 50 U.S. service members prepare to cook chili paste and tokbokki, a Korean street food dish made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, chili paste and broth., during a tour at Sunchang Gochujang village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. The service members received hands-on training from expert chili paste crafters on creating the Korean favorite. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

More than 50 U.S. service members prepare to cook chili paste and tokbokki, a Korean street food dish made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, chili paste and broth, during a tour at Sunchang Gochujang village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. The service members received hands-on training from expert chili paste crafters on creating the Korean favorite. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

U.S. service members stationed around the Korean Peninsula wear traditional Korean clothing while exploring Jeonju traditional village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. More than 50 Soldiers, Marines and Airmen participated in the three-day tour hosted by the Ministry of National Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

U.S. service members stationed around the Korean Peninsula wear traditional Korean clothing while exploring Jeonju traditional village, Republic of Korea, July 9, 2019. More than 50 Soldiers, Marines and Airmen participated in the three-day tour hosted by the Ministry of National Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Mendez)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense hosted a three-day Korean culture tour for more than 50 U.S. military personnel, July 9 – July 11.

The Korean MND has been organizing tours since 1972, giving numerous opportunities for U.S. military personnel stationed all over the Korean peninsula to learn more about the vast history and unique culture of their host nation.

“These tours provide U.S. service members with an opportunity to immerse themselves in Korean culture and share their experiences with their friends and family,” said Lee Kyun, Ministry of National Defense spiritual force and cultural affairs director. “It’s important to educate our U.S. partners on Korean tradition and culture while also maintaining a great partnership between them and the Republic of Korea.”

The tour included a visit to Jeonju traditional village, giving military members the opportunity to explore the village while wearing Hanbok, the traditional Korean clothing worn during the Joseon dynasty. Following the visit, the group attended a cooking class, making chili paste and tokbokki, a Korean street food dish made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, chili paste and broth. The group also visited Juknokwon bamboo garden, followed by a taekwondo performance and lesson.

Each portion of the tour was hosted by a ‘master’ who has been designated by the Korean government as an expert in their field. Service members were able to interact with a bamboo fan master, traditional Korean liquor master and taekwondo master.

“Traveling and exploring on your own can be intimidating. Tours like these help break down cultural and lingual barriers and introduce U.S. service members to Korean culture,” said Staff Sgt. Loren Boring, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management specialist. “These trips benefit the U.S. and ROK alliance by giving us the opportunity to interact with different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and focus on building relationship with our ROK counterparts.”

In addition to popular tourism sites around the peninsula, Soldiers, Marines and Airmen who attended the tour were able to interact with one another and learn more about their Korean travel companions over Korean barbeque, wine cave footbaths and Korean snack making.