Army offering crash course in Korean culture
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — South Korea’s language and culture can be difficult to understand for Americans new to the country, so some bases have started sending soldiers to classes to learn how to live and work in their host nation.
And Army officials hope a pilot program at Taegu-area bases will be expanded across the peninsula.
In October, junior enlisted soldiers arriving in country attended a three-day culture and language course, said Maj. Russell Miller, deputy of the civil affairs office for the 19th Theater Support Command, based in Taegu.
And in December, Maj. Gen. Jeanette K. Edmunds sent senior key leaders to two-week intensive courses at a local university, Miller said.
At Keimyung University, participants take 10 full days of lectures “so key leaders can get functional in both culture and language,” Miller said.
The command is working on establishing the course as a regular part of in-processing, Miller said.
The 19th TSC is also working with 8th Army to eventually integrate the program into in-processing for soldiers around the peninsula, Miller said.
The classes explore the relationship between North and South Korea and cover simple language tips, such as the number system.
Soldiers also learn how to handle common everyday occurrences in South Korea, Miller said.
Some soldiers who are destined for South Korea will be sent a textbook along with a language compact disc before they arrive, Miller said.
The language CD is used by the Army’s Special Operations command in Fort Bragg, N.C.
“I’ve read through most of the … comments and they’ve been excellent,” Miller said. “A lot of the comments are ‘This is long overdue.’”