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South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The traditional fermented dish, made of vegetables and seasonings, will be donated to elderly people who live alone in the area.

South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The traditional fermented dish, made of vegetables and seasonings, will be donated to elderly people who live alone in the area. (Kim Gamel/Stars and Stripes)

South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The traditional fermented dish, made of vegetables and seasonings, will be donated to elderly people who live alone in the area.

South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The traditional fermented dish, made of vegetables and seasonings, will be donated to elderly people who live alone in the area. (Kim Gamel/Stars and Stripes)

South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The 40 soldiers from the Fort Sills, Okla.-based 2-18 Field Artillery Battalion rotated into South Korea last month to join the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, which is stationed near the border with North Korea.

South Koreans teach U.S. soldiers with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade how to make kimchi, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at a volunteer center in Dongducheon, South Korea. The 40 soldiers from the Fort Sills, Okla.-based 2-18 Field Artillery Battalion rotated into South Korea last month to join the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, which is stationed near the border with North Korea. (Kim Gamel/Stars and Stripes)

DONGDUCHEON, South Korea — A group of soldiers got a taste of Korea when they joined local volunteers Thursday to make kimchi for needy people while building community relations.

The 40 soldiers from the Fort Sills, Okla.-based 2-18 Field Artillery Battalion rotated into South Korea last month to join the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, which is stationed near the border with North Korea.

For many, this was their first excursion into the city and their first taste of the traditional fermented side dish made of vegetables and seasonings, not to mention making it.

“It was fun making something new and unique,” Pfc. Billy Stephenson, 20, of Port Arthur, Texas, said before lining up for a hard-earned lunch.

The soldiers wore plastic aprons over their uniforms and donned pink rubber gloves as they filled cabbage leaves with a spicy vegetable mixture with the guidance of South Korean women at long tables in the courtyard of the Dongducheon Volunteer Center.

“While I’m in country I might as well come out here and learn some of the culture, meet some of the people out here,” said Pvt. Hunter Whitfield, 20, of Mechanicsville, Va. “The ladies were funny and cool. They offered me some soju (a Korean alcoholic beverage), but I said no, obviously.”

Lee Soo-yeon, president of the local chapter of the Korean Women’s Association, said she usually participates in the annual event.

“It’s an opportunity to help each other and build a friendship,” she said. “The kimchi will be donated to elderly living alone in Dongducheon. Kimchi is the food that we must always have on the table.”

gamel.kim@stripes.com Twitter: @kimgamel


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