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ROKAF hosts Kunsan Airmen during Lunar New Year event

by Staff Sgt. Alice Moore
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/7/2008 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Members of the Republic of Korea Air Force's 38th Fighter Group hosted approximately 20 Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing for a Korean New Year celebration.

Airmen from the 38th FG hosted a variety of events to include a traditional bowing ceremony, food and games.

The Korean Lunar New Year or "Seollal," is the first day of the first month of the new lunar year. The holiday provides an opportunity for Koreans to spend time with family and remember their ancestors.

"Since the two groups (38th FG, 8th FW) are here on the same base sharing the same interests, there was expressed interest from the U.S. Airmen here on learning more about the Korean culture. We thought sharing the Lunar New Year with them would be a good opportunity for us to share our culture," said Capt. Lee Sung Wook, 38th FG.

The day began with a traditional bowing ceremony where Kunsan Airmen were taught to kneel and bow to their ancestors and elders. The ceremony is typically done for Korean family members to exchange good wishes and gifts. Afterwards, Airmen sat down to a traditional meal of rice cake soup followed by the opportunity to play traditional Korean games. The games consisted of Shuttlecock Kicking, Board Games, Jumping See-saw and Arrow Throwing.

Wolf Pack Airmen who participated in the event thought it was a great experience they wouldn't have the opportunity to do elsewhere.  "I found this experience today to be enlightening," said 1st Lt. Clayton Baker, 8th Communications Squadron flight chief. "It was nice to see their (Korean) culture and experience their traditions."

Lieutenant Baker said that this was his first time participating in a ROKAF cultural event and his favorite part of the cultural experience was the bowing ceremony because it felt very traditional.

Captain Lee said that sharing cultural experiences is important to the overall Korean and U.S. alliance.

"Koreans and Americans have different cultures, but we're both here trying to maintain peace in the region, he said. It's important to integrate the two cultures so we can understand where we're both coming from. We're two cultures with the same goal."

The Lunar New Year event is one of many events hosted by ROKAF members in order to strengthen ties and gain cultural awareness with U.S. military members.

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USFK Website  (Posted 2/7/08)