News>Wolf Pack Airmen get glimpse of local culture, future plans
This model representation of the "Dream City" designed in Songdo City, Republic of Korea, is under construction and should be complete by the year 2030. It aims to become an Asian international hub that could rival Hong Kong or Singapore. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
Airmen and visitors from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, watch a 3-D presentation of future development plans for the Saemangeum Land Recovery Project, June 20, 2012, in Gunsan City. The project is expected to be completed in 2030 and will give future Airmen another reason to get out and explore South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Hines)
Airmen and family members from the 8th Fighter Wing tour Gunsan, Republic of Korea, June 20, 2012. The tour is designed to show new members of the 8th FW some of the culture and tradition of their host country and explore the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
Staff Sgt. Michael Schocker, left, 8th Fighter Wing broadcaster, interviews Col. Douglas Nikolai, 8th FW vice commander, at the Saemangeum Seawall, Republic of Korea, June 20, 2012. As a new and returning member of the Wolf Pack, the vice commander was happy to see how much Gunsan City has grown since his last assignment to the peninsula. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
Members of the 8th Fighter Wing Gunsan City Cultural Tour pose for a picture at a South Korea shipyard near the Saemangeum Seawall in Gunsan, Republic of Korea, June 20, 2012. The shipyard just recently constructed a new building for constructing vessels similar to the oil ship in the picture. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
Airmen and visitors from Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, listen to tour leaders of the Saemangeum Land Recovery Project, June 20, 2012, in Gunsan City. Members of the Wolf Pack received a special tour designed to introduce them to local culture and history around them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Hines)
Attendees at the Gunsan City Cultural Tour are treated to a traditional Korean meal in Gunsan, Republic of Korea, June 20, 2012. The restaurant was chosen to showcase South Korea's rich culture and tastefully prepared dishes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
Seongho Lee, left, with the Korea Rural Community Corporation public relations team, gives 8th Fighter Wing members a tour of the zero energy city project in Gunsan, Republic of Korea, June 20, 2012. This tour was designed to educate new people in the 8th FW about what their host country accomplishes and to expose them to a new culture. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marcus Morris)
by Senior Airman Jessica Hines
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/26/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- A group of Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing received a special tour of Kunsan Air Base's neighboring city of Gunsan June 20.
The Gunsan City Cultural Tour showcased the unique culture of the area, giving each attendee a chance to experience pieces of Gunsan's past, present and future.
Starting off with a visit to the Gunsan Modern History Museum, guests wandered through exhibits of Korean heritage ranging from artifacts nearly 1,000 years old to an authentic replicated 1930s Korean village.
Airmen were also treated to a traditional Korean meal with the Deputy Mayor of Gunsan, Kang Seung-goo, as a special guest.
Following lunch, Airmen visited one of Gunsan's most exciting industrial projects, the Saemangeum Land Recovery Project; an estimated value of more than $10 billion, scheduled for completion in 2030.
"It shows you the ingenuity of the Korean people, which we've really seen since the end of the Korean War. You know why the country is thriving so well," said Col. Douglas J. Nikolai, 8th FW vice commander.
As part of the development, the Saemangeum Seawall holds the record for the world's longest man-made sea barrier and is a key component of the land recovery project.
Airmen and visitors were shown a scale model of what the future city is projected to look like, which include plans for self-sustaining "green" energy.
"The entrepreneurship of the Korean people is just amazing," said Nikolai, commenting on how much has changed since his last assignment in Korea in the early '90s.
Staff Sgt. Michelle Barto, 8th FW Judge Advocate's Office, said that while she has been out to Gunsan City on her own since being stationed in South Korea, seeing the future development of the area would definitely encourage her to return and visit in the future.
"I've really enjoyed my time here, and I would like to come back even though I might not be in the military in 2030," said Barto.
The tour also included visits to a shipyard and distilled rice liquor factory, which showed the long process behind South Korea's distinguished native beverage dating back to the 13th century - soju.
Whether it's a service member's first time to South Korea, or their second or third, every Airman can find a unique and thriving cultural atmosphere deeply rooted in tradition and dedicated to the future.