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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — About 600 U.S. servicemembers here will take one-day tours this year compliments of the South Korean Ministry of Defense, continuing a long-running program to orient Americans to Korean culture, officials said.

Priority is given to junior enlisted servicemembers who live outside of Seoul, said George D. Kim, U.S. Forces Korea chief of community relations. A total of eight free, one-day tours with about 75 participants each will be conducted this spring and fall, he said.

The first tour kicked off Wednesday, with soldiers visiting a Chosun Dynasty palace.

The Defense Ministry has hosted the tours since 1972, said spokesman Lt. Col. Lee Bung-woo.

“By giving this chance to the newly stationed soldiers, we want them to better understand our culture, and we also hope to convey our appreciation for their service here,” Lee said. “With better understanding of this country, I want them to feel more friendly toward us and this country.”

Tours include landmarks such as Changdok Palace, Seoul Tower, the Korean Folk Village and the Korean War Museum. Each of the tours ends with a dinner at the South Korean Army Club.

“The Ministry of National Defense hosts cultural orientation tours to convey friendship and appreciation to U.S. military personnel for their service in the Republic of Korea,” Kim said.

Spring tours are scheduled for Tuesday, April 21 and April 28. Fall tours have been scheduled for September or October.

Interested servicemembers can contact Nel De Leon in community relations at DSN 723-4685. She can put servicemembers in touch with the right point of contact to be included on a tour.


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