YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. military community can take advantage of free tour programs offered by a local South Korean government office as part of an outreach program.

Gangwon Province, which includes camps Page, Long and Eagle, is offering several sight-seeing trips to expose Korean culture to servicemembers new to the country, said Lee Jung-hee, international marketing manager for Gangwon Provincial Government.

“We want to introduce Gangwon Province to the soldiers because even though they stay here, they may not properly know about the region,” Lee said. “These activities will help them understand and develop a closer relationship between the people of Korea and the USA.”

The province government has declared 2004 “Visit Gangwon Province Year” with the intention of internationalizing the area as a tourist destination, Lee said.

The province — which runs from Wonju in the south to the Demilitarized Zone in the north and to the Sea of Japan in the east — features mountains, coastlines and rural charm.

Last week, 21 servicemembers from Camp Page in Chunchon took a day trip courtesy of the province. They were treated to a traditional Korean-style dinner along with a tour of a local herb farm. The group then attended a two-hour classical concert called the “Great Mountains International Music Festival” at the Yongpyong ski resort.

“I think it was definitely a good experience,” said Michelle Geffert, a Santa Clara (Calif.) University ROTC student working at Camp Page for a month this summer. “There’s a lot of younger soldiers who went on it, and I think it was the first time for them to get out of the city. It was a nice cultural experience for them.”

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Allen, Camp Page airfield commander, said some servicemembers who had been stationed in South Korea for a long time haven’t had the chance to get out and see the country.

“It was fantastic,” Allen said. “I really wish we had more participation from the units. It was a great opportunity to get out and see that part of Korea.”

For more information on tour programs, contact Ko Tal-song, community relations officer at Camp Long and Camp Eagle, at DSN: 721-3335. At Camp Page, call Chang Sang-hyon, community relations officer, at DSN 721-5789.

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