DONGDUCHEON, South Korea — About 30 Camp Casey-area employees and spouses attended a Thanksgiving unlike anything they had ever experienced before Thursday.
Turkey and mashed potatoes were out; fish, kimchee and a host of Korean delicacies were displayed instead for Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving holiday happening this weekend.
"The layout is very specific. Everything they do here has a purpose to it," said Camp Casey Red Cross manager Deanna Young, who wore a dazzling pink and blue hanbok ensemble for her first Chuseok.
The event at the Yulim Hotel was sponsored by Morale, Welfare and Recreation and co-hosted by women from the Dongducheon Volunteer Center, who showed the foreign women the intricacies of everything from table arrangement to pouring and drinking tea at the right time.
"Now, it’s not soju or whiskey — don’t drink it like a shot," the announcer said as each woman drank her tea while sitting cross-legged.
Each woman also tried the formal Chuseok bow, a graceful set of motions with the hands placed at face level, followed by a knee bend and a full prostration on the floor.
"That was hard, (especially) doing it and not messing up your gown. They make it look easy," said Amy Hickerson, 1st Brigade’s family readiness support assistant.
The Americans described their own Thanksgiving rituals as something a bit less formal. The most common descriptions involved a family member passed out on the couch in a turkey-induced coma — and lots of football.
"Texas A&M and [University of Texas], that’s the big one," said Aggies fan Rebekah Redus of Dallas, whose husband, Riley, is a second lieutenant with the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery. "This is just completely different. It’s a good experience of a different culture."