TAEGU, South Korea — A South Korean police official whose blue-clad officers guarded Camp Hialeah during months of anti-U.S. protests is among several South Koreans who received Good Neighbor awards from the U.S. Army.

Ha Byung-ok, now chief of the Pusan Metropolitan Police Agency’s Foreign Affairs Division, got the award from the Army’s 20th Area Support Group at Camp Hialeah for his former role as Pusanjin Police Station chief, a post he held until July.

The Army said Korean National Police officers under Ha ensured Camp Hialeah’s security during numerous demonstrations outside the post. The protests were part of a wave of South Korea-wide sentiment against the U.S. military set off after a U.S. Army tracked vehicle struck and killed two South Korean schoolgirls in June 2002.

Ha also was key in building cooperation between the KNP and U.S. military police at Camp Hialeah, the Army said.

Good Neighbor awards also went to Wang Sang-eun, national president of the Korean American Friendship Association, Ahn Jung-hun, president of People to People International’s Pusan chapter, and Yi Soo-in, a member of the chapter’s board of directors.

The top U.S. military commander in South Korea, Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, launched the Good Neighbor Program earlier this year to foster improved relations between the U.S. military and South Korean public.

“These award recipients have all in their own way positively affected the lives of our soldiers and civilians working and living in Pusan and have made a significant contribution to the ROK-US alliance,” said Army Col. Jeffery K. Ludwig, Camp Hialeah garrison commander.

Wang has been the association’s president since 1982 and is a member of a panel that advises Ludwig on matters affecting the local community and the U.S. military. He’s also supported many events over the years that were of benefit to U.S. forces, the Army said.

“It’s a great honor for me to get this kind of award today during the Good Neighbor Program,” Wang said at an Aug. 22 awards reception at Camp Hialeah’s Pusan Pub.

“I should also express my hearty thanks for all the American ... military people who contributed to peace and security in this region for more than half a century,” Wang said.

Ahn teaches English literature at Pusan National University. Upon becoming PTP president in July 2002, he revitalized the chapter, which had been dormant since 1997, the Army said. He also later initiated an annual Korean American Friendship Night and an International Friendship Sport Day.

Yi has held traditional Korean dress fashion shows for the U.S. community in Pusan since 1989. The show was a highlight of the PTP Korean American Friendship Night in March. The Army cited her for fostering a better cultural understanding between Koreans and Americans.

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