CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Plenty of 2nd Infantry Division soldiers are well acquainted with the entertainment area outside Camp Casey’s main gate known as “The Ville” but far fewer could find Dongducheon city hall or the Peace Museum.

Beginning in June, Dongducheon will work with Area I and 2nd ID to expand soldiers’ local exposure by offering free half-day city tours.

Forty soldiers will board a bus once per month and tour city landmarks and shopping areas. They also will receive a free Korean meal.

The city previously offered the tours from 1996 to 2000 but discontinued them for lack of funding, said Kang Hong, Dongducheon chief of current issues for U.S. forces, counterplan division.

“Definitely, we’d like to welcome them to our city and to express our thankfulness and support for their service so far away from their home,” Kang said. “We also want to show them that local media coverage only focusing negatively on them is not the way we see them here.”

The tour schedule each month will revolve around 2nd ID training events, said Camp Casey commander Lt. Col. Terry Hodges.

The 40 monthly slots will be split up and allotted as brigade commanders see fit, Hodges said. The city would like to offer the tour to more soldiers in the future, Kang said.

Dongducheon hosted an exploratory tour in November for commanders and sergeants major to get a feel for the concept. Bilingual city employees will guide soldiers through the city, and local government officials will be on hand to greet and brief the soldiers as they visit city hall, Hodges said.

“There are parts of the city that they are quite proud of,” Hodges said.

Dongducheon has many of the markets and shopping opportunities that soldiers find near Yongsan Garrison and Osan Air Base, albeit on a smaller scale, Hodges said.

They also have created a more modern neighborhood replete with American chain restaurants and banks.

“It’s almost like a taste of the West,” Hodges said.

Soldiers also will receive a primer on how to use the local bus system, Hodges said.

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