Pyongtaek tours help new arrivals at Camp Humphreys get settled in
April 2, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Soldiers newly assigned to Camp Humphreys in South Korea will be given a tour of the surrounding Pyongtaek region to help acquaint them with their new place of duty, base officials said Thursday.
The monthly tours will be similar to one Wednesday in which 14 U.S. soldiers were taken to several points of interest in Pyongtaek, a city in west-central South Korea.
The troops stopped at a Buddhist temple, a Korean restaurant, an agricultural exhibition center and a seaport, said Yu Pom-pong, community relations officer for the Army’s Area III Support Activity at Camp Humphreys, a helicopter base.
“The newcomers do not know where to go and what there is in Pyongtaek City,” Yu said of why the program was started. “Once they are assigned to Camp Humphreys, they can feel a lot [more] comfortable to go out and explore Korean culture and see the Korean people.”
Wednesday’s tour was co-sponsored by Pyongtaek City and the People To People Korea’s Pyongtaek chapter, both of which also will sponsor the future tours, he said.
Most of the soldiers on Wednesday’s tour arrived in South Korea within the past two months, Yu said; one had arrived just two days before the tour.
Wednesday’s first stop, Yu said, was a 90-minute visit to Mangi-sa, a Buddhist temple in northern Pyongtaek’s Jinwi-myon area. Soldiers walked the grounds and a guide explained the temple’s history.
Then came a restaurant, Yu said, in which troops ate a popular beef dish called bulgogi, rice and various side dishes.
During about an hour at the Pyongtaek City Agricultural Technology and Extension Center, they saw exhibits related to the history of farming in Pyongtaek.
At Pyongtaek Port, on South Korea’s west coast, the soldiers and their hosts boarded a boat that cruised the port for about 40 minutes. A guide outlined the port’s history and talked of what Korean economists see as an increasingly important national role for the port in coming years, Yu said.
“I’ve been here about four months and that was my first time seeing any of those places,” said Army Pfc. Veronica Durant, 18. She arrived in South Korea in December for her first duty station after training. She’s assigned to the Area III Support Activity’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
“And it was very interesting learning about the culture and about the way they are here,” she said. The tours “would really benefit new people that come here ... I think most people don’t really understand or think much about it.”