Budding artists find creative direction at Yongsan center
September 7, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Kim Chae-su has spent nearly four decades helping U.S. military members and their families add art to their lives.
Kim, 64, has worked with Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Arts and Crafts centers for 39 years. He started at a small base outside Seoul and then worked for a decade in Hannam Village.
Since 1978, he has overseen classes and services at Yongsan, the main U.S. military base in Korea.
Over the years, he’s become a bit of an expert in nearly all projects and mediums available through the program.
“I do a little bit of everything,” he said while giving a short tour recently of four floors worth of studio and workspace. “I like everything. I have to be involved in every section, to oversee everything.”
The center offers classes and individual instruction in jewelry making, photography, painting, framing, pottery, woodworking, flower arranging and other crafts. It also offers a variety of programs for children, including birthday parties in which partygoers can paint a piece of pottery or a wooden figure.
Last week, Kim was trying to get the air conditioning fixed in the center’s two buildings on South Post. Despite the afternoon heat, students showed up for their pottery, drawing and flower-arranging classes.
Kathy Hansen was attending her second flower-arranging class. She already has taken a class on working with Korean rice paper.
“I love this place,” she said. “I’m a quilter, so this is just another creative venue.”
A few crafts, such as flower arranging, drawing and pottery, have class times and monthly fees that range from about $30 to $40, plus supplies.
Most of the program’s instructors and studios are available for anyone at $2 for each session. The buildings on South Post are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and a session can last as long as the customer wants, said Mario Farrulla, director of Area II Community Service Centers.
“You can be here eight hours and pay only $2,” he said.
The buildings also include a digital photo lab, a darkroom, a frame shop and a supply store. Most of the supplies needed are for sale at the store, and if someone has a special request, Kim will try to find the item off base.
Kim said most of his customers are soldiers who want to fix or make something for the house, rather than to just learn a hobby for the pleasure of it.
“In the old days, a young soldier would come for fun,” he said. “Now they come for what they need.”
Give them your best shot
The deadline to enter the 2005 Army Photography contest is Sept. 30. All people who are eligible to use Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities may enter.
There are three categories of competition: black and white, color and short film.
Judges will award prizes in five categories: people, place, object, military life and experimental processes.
Photo submissions should be printed on paper between 5 by 7 inches and 16 by 20 inches, unmounted, borderless and in print sleeves.
For more information, and to get an entry form, call your local Arts and Crafts Center, or call 738-4750.