• note from Veteran George Breen @239flathead

    I enjoyed the message in Yongsan Legacy,”A new laungage”.
    The main words did change with time.. Being a little different when I was there. Chogi and Yogi, were certainly there !

    • Running with American spirit Posted : 2018-04-24 19:23
      By Kyung Lee

      Photo note: Choe Kyung-ho, left, with fellow U.S. and KATUSA soldiers in Camp Coiner in Yongsan Garrison in this image dated Oct. 2, 1997. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them. ― ED.

      On select weekday mornings at 5 a.m., Choe Kyung-ho would fit into his gym clothes and combat boots to join his Korean and U.S. military brethren for an intense hike up Namsan Park out from the back gate of Camp Coiner and through a still slumbering Huam-dong.

      Choe served under the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) on Yongsan Garrison from March 1997 to March 1999.

      Laboring on up Sowol-ro along Namsan Park, they reached the Namsan Beacon Fire Station, a historic Joseon-era spot up by the peak, from where they could enjoy a vista of a briefly quiet and empty Seoul before sunrise. Then Choe’s unit would trail east and descend back down into the now-awakening city, taking either Sinheung-ro in Haebangchon or Gyeongnidan-gil, between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.

      Passing by commuters and schoolchildren on their way back to base, a young 21-year-old U.S. service member accompanying Choe often greeted the groups of high school girls.

      “Hey! I’m an American! An American!” Choe recalls his American brother-in-arms yelling to the girls in basic Korean. “I love you all!”

      The spectacle, which Choe recalls occurring two or three times a month, would often cause fellow soldiers and students bowing or swaying their heads away in shyness from such silly cheers, including Choe himself.

      “I felt embarrassed, telling him ‘Let’s go! Do not offend the civilians, they can get scared,'” he said.

      On the other hand, sometimes the exchanges were reciprocated with “I love you, Americans” or high school girls “screaming” with amicable laughter. With situations like these that evoked a more positive response from the girls, Choe said he could also empathize with his playful American counterpart seeking a partial sense of belonging with a local crowd he knew almost nothing about as an outsider to Korea’s social and cultural fabrics.

      “I could understand that young soldiers were curious to spark up a conversation with the locals since they’d never before ventured into any foreign country or city,” he said. “Looking back, I felt situations as unique as this could only be seen within the proximity of our base.”

      Choe, a decorated member of KATUSA group 9701, was first assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD) of the 94th Military Police Battalion of the Eighth U.S. Army’s 8th Military Police Brigade. Later he trained U.S. and KATUSA soldiers after completing the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) at the U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officer Education System (NCOES).

      Throughout his service, Choe has clocked six long-distance routes running in and around the confines of Yongsan Garrison, with or sometimes without the company of U.S. soldiers.

      Still, he says the American spirit of jogging would always tickle his inner psyche, giving him a chance to observe the changing hands at shops and residential life such as in Haebangchon or noticing chalk marks drawn on the ground by senior U.S. officers to guide their units on the roads and back to base.

      Taking up the longest-distance route that stretched from the current Gate 13 off South Post, crossing over Banpo Bridge and taking Hannam Bridge for the trip back, Choe would pause on one of the bridges to appreciate the other views Han River and Seoul offer, along with the chalk lines and drawings on the ground ― sometimes 100 meters apart ― left behind by U.S. soldiers.

      “We’d (Korean soldiers) run in an orderly fashion and get scolded if we didn’t keep up with our American counterparts,” he said. “Running past a chalk line, however, reminded me how freely you could run at your own pace while undergoing physical training.”

      “Whenever I notice the white markings, I tell myself, ‘Yeah, those lines were drawn by the Americans.'”

      Visit yongsanlegacy.org to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

    • Growing up in Yongsan Library Posted : 2018-04-03 17:40
      By Micah Granderson

      Yongsan Library on Yongsan Garrison, as seen in this photo published in Morning Calm, a U.S. military publication. / Courtesy of Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper Installation Management Command, U.S. Army

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them. ― ED.

      The staff at Yongsan Library unwittingly babysat me for a small but significant portion of my childhood in the 1980s. I was well-mannered enough that they never caught on.

      The library is housed in a building on Yongsan Garrison that had previously been the Post Exchange, and it was likely constructed in haste so U.S. soldiers would have somewhere to buy their daily essentials. When it came time to convert the building into a library, the front was bricked over for a more studious Le Corbusier look. The interior was largely left the same, with bookshelves shoehorned in between the pillars and very low ceiling. The ceiling height meant very little light filtered in between the shelves. Natural light was scarce since the only windows in the front now faced the bricks. The air vents hissed out air smelling of government floor cleaner and decaying paper. There was no sense of time during the day, and the soundproofing qualities of thousands of books contributed to the feeling you were walking in an ancient catacomb of knowledge.

      My mother took us on post a couple times a week to run errands. Rather than shepherd our large family from the commissary to the dental office or the bank, she worked out an installment plan. We all headed to the library where it was air-conditioned, vastly educational, and horseplay ended at the point that somebody forgot to whisper. My mother would deposit all of us, except the one that needed dental work, and leave us there for a couple hours. Then she returned and traded that one for the two that needed shoes and headed out again. The freshly shod siblings returned and a lucky volunteer left to help with the grocery shopping. Depending on my mother’s list of errands, it was quite possible to end up at the library for five hours a day, multiple times a week.

      To some this might sound like a terribly dull pastime, but it really became quite the opposite for us. To give you an idea of how much time we spent there, all of us siblings learned to use every one of the library’s services in ways concerned educators could only dream of. Regardless of how humble the building was, it had an incredible catalog. We studied how to build fireworks in the nonfiction section, we mowed through operas in the audio room and we got a first-rate education in silent film history from the video collection. The staff seemed to mostly be local Korean employees with a few American civilians. I’m not sure why they covered all those topics so well, but I’ll be forever grateful they did.

      Modern libraries are being reinvented with swooping architecture, technology and collaborative open spaces. But I wouldn’t trade it for my musty old Yongsan Library at all. As a child spending hours between its claustrophobic shelves, I learned about the larger world and how to dream big.

      Micah Granderson is a computer programmer currently working in Tokyo, who was in Yongsan as a dependent (student) in the 1980s and early 1990s. Visit Yongsan Legacy to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

      https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/04/177_246675.html

    • Searching for lost love in Hannam Posted : 2018-03-27 18:57
      By Kyung Lee
      George Breen holds a sign asking for help searching for Marie Hwang. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them. ― ED.

      If you’ve been in the alleys of Hannam-dong in Seoul in recent months, maybe you spotted a flyer showing a portrait of a woman that reads “Looking for My Love” in Korean, taped to a pole situated along an alley that once linked the back gate of the now demolished Hannam Village.

      The flyer, written and posted with a heavy heart, leaves a trace of the intimate memories, battered by memories of artillery shells and poor sanitary conditions, that one couple, then-U.S. Army service member George Breen and a woman he knew as Marie Hwang, shared between the summers of 1958 and 1959 in Hannam, east of modern-day Itaewon Station.

      Now an 83-year-old grandfather living in Florida, Breen still kindles fond memories of Marie, devoting considerable time and effort to searching for her since their last correspondence in 1964 as well as retracing the rustic Korea he learned to love during his tour of duty.

      Breen spent his days on work detail repairing military vehicle engines in shops operated by the 570th Ordnance Company (DAS), on the site that would become Niblo Barracks and later Hannam Village.

      At 5 p.m., Breen would walk out the back gate following a dirt trail that ran alongside the compound to go see Marie. The houses are long gone, but the roads remain much the same; Marie lived in an alley across Itaewon-no, behind where an Audi dealership stands today.

      “I remember how it did rain in Seoul,” he said. “The hill leading from the 570th into the village was muddy and difficult to climb, but I never missed a day walking up that hill to see Marie.”

      Following the path that once led to the village, Breen vividly recalls singing “Oh My Darling, Clementine” in the Koreanized verses Marie had taught him, arousing immediate laughter from Korean passersby.

      The villagers he met lived in improvised tin-roof huts with walls often riddled with wartime bullet holes, some of which were made from cardboard with mud piled around the base to keep out rainwater. But such hard living, according to Breen, didn’t dampen their spirits.

      “Some families were so poor that the younger children wore no clothes during the warmer weather,” Breen said.

      “Yet, through all this hardship, each time I would walk up the hill into the village, the children and adult civilians would have a smile for me. That’s strong people.”

      He recalls Marie lived with her younger brothers, having lost their parents in the war.

      He often brought canned foods and beer purchased on base, either for Marie’s home necessities or to resell for a considerable profit on the local black market.

      Breen also savored the home-cooked meals Marie prepared, though off-duty service members were ordered not to eat anywhere other than the mess halls on base.

      He recalls a cold winter night at Marie’s where he had to repair a charcoal heater that was leaking carbon monoxide into the room where they slept.

      “Marie and I both came close to dying that night,” he said. “Heating with charcoal is a real no but that is all the Koreans could afford at that time.”

      Events such as this did not, however, deter him from showing up in front of Marie’s sliding front door almost every day, a routine that certainly had its muddy and gas-filled struggles.

      Breen recalls waking up next to her “first thing in the morning as she lay asleep,” and says “giving her a soft kiss without waking her brings big tears.”

      Shortly after putting on his work clothes and giving Marie a brief goodbye kiss, Breen would return to his post by 7 a.m. for morning chow.

      But in July 1959 Breen completed his tour and had to depart. One Sunday afternoon, they shared one last dance waiting for him to board a ship in Incheon.

      “Marie that day would be the most beautiful woman that I would ever see,” he said. “Honest, true love shared between two young people torn apart!”

      Reimagining his footsteps that can be traced back from the 570th to Marie’s, Breen added: “Surely my ghost was with you when you walked the same route I used.”

      그림 This image shows the front gate of Niblo Barracks in 1970 where George Breen served earlier. Marie Hwang lived on the hill behind the base. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy

      Visit yongsanlegacy.org to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

      http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/177_246270.html

    • Searching for lost love in Hannam Posted : 2018-03-27 18:57
      By Kyung Lee

      George Breen holds a sign asking for help searching for Marie Hwang. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them. ― ED.

      If you’ve been in the alleys of Hannam-dong in Seoul in recent months, maybe you spotted a flyer showing a portrait of a woman that reads “Looking for My Love” in Korean, taped to a pole situated along an alley that once linked the back gate of the now demolished Hannam Village.

      The flyer, written and posted with a heavy heart, leaves a trace of the intimate memories, battered by memories of artillery shells and poor sanitary conditions, that one couple, then-U.S. Army service member George Breen and a woman he knew as Marie Hwang, shared between the summers of 1958 and 1959 in Hannam, east of modern-day Itaewon Station.

      Now an 83-year-old grandfather living in Florida, Breen still kindles fond memories of Marie, devoting considerable time and effort to searching for her since their last correspondence in 1964 as well as retracing the rustic Korea he learned to love during his tour of duty.

      Breen spent his days on work detail repairing military vehicle engines in shops operated by the 570th Ordnance Company (DAS), on the site that would become Niblo Barracks and later Hannam Village.

      At 5 p.m., Breen would walk out the back gate following a dirt trail that ran alongside the compound to go see Marie. The houses are long gone, but the roads remain much the same; Marie lived in an alley across Itaewon-no, behind where an Audi dealership stands today.

      “I remember how it did rain in Seoul,” he said. “The hill leading from the 570th into the village was muddy and difficult to climb, but I never missed a day walking up that hill to see Marie.”

      Following the path that once led to the village, Breen vividly recalls singing “Oh My Darling, Clementine” in the Koreanized verses Marie had taught him, arousing immediate laughter from Korean passersby.

      The villagers he met lived in improvised tin-roof huts with walls often riddled with wartime bullet holes, some of which were made from cardboard with mud piled around the base to keep out rainwater. But such hard living, according to Breen, didn’t dampen their spirits.

      “Some families were so poor that the younger children wore no clothes during the warmer weather,” Breen said.

      “Yet, through all this hardship, each time I would walk up the hill into the village, the children and adult civilians would have a smile for me. That’s strong people.”

      He recalls Marie lived with her younger brothers, having lost their parents in the war.

      He often brought canned foods and beer purchased on base, either for Marie’s home necessities or to resell for a considerable profit on the local black market.

      Breen also savored the home-cooked meals Marie prepared, though off-duty service members were ordered not to eat anywhere other than the mess halls on base.

      He recalls a cold winter night at Marie’s where he had to repair a charcoal heater that was leaking carbon monoxide into the room where they slept.

      “Marie and I both came close to dying that night,” he said. “Heating with charcoal is a real no but that is all the Koreans could afford at that time.”

      Events such as this did not, however, deter him from showing up in front of Marie’s sliding front door almost every day, a routine that certainly had its muddy and gas-filled struggles.

      Breen recalls waking up next to her “first thing in the morning as she lay asleep,” and says “giving her a soft kiss without waking her brings big tears.”

      Shortly after putting on his work clothes and giving Marie a brief goodbye kiss, Breen would return to his post by 7 a.m. for morning chow.

      But in July 1959 Breen completed his tour and had to depart. One Sunday afternoon, they shared one last dance waiting for him to board a ship in Incheon.

      “Marie that day would be the most beautiful woman that I would ever see,” he said. “Honest, true love shared between two young people torn apart!”

      Reimagining his footsteps that can be traced back from the 570th to Marie’s, Breen added: “Surely my ghost was with you when you walked the same route I used.”

      그림 This image shows the front gate of Niblo Barracks in 1970 where George Breen served earlier. Marie Hwang lived on the hill behind the base. / Courtesy of Yongsan Legacy

      Visit yongsanlegacy.org to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

    • A new language? Posted : 2018-03-13 15:22Updated : 2018-03-14 13:15
      By Martin Limon
      Posted : 2018-03-13 15:22

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them.

      When I first arrived on Yongsan Compound in June 1968, I had to learn a new language. Not proper Korean, which was beyond my youthful ambitions, but rather a new dialect of GI slang: a dialect one part Korean, one part English and a generous helping of humor.

      One of the first words I learned was “moolah,” I don’t know. Exceedingly useful when you’re a barely educated teenager thrust into a 5,000-year-old culture. But just saying “I don’t know” wasn’t enough for most of us. We added our own spin. When we were completely befuddled we might throw up our hands and say “Moolah the hell out of me.”

      Another word quickly learned was “mianhamnida,” sorry. When faced with an insoluble problem, a GI might say “Sounds like a mianham situation.”

      Yoboseiyo, the Korean telephone greeting, was mangled into “Yobo-skeeter,” reminding one GI of the omnipresent mosquitoes in his home state of Georgia.

      GIs would sometimes combine the new with the familiar. For example, the Korean greeting “Anyonghasaeyo?” became “Anyonghashi-motor pool.”

      “Bbali bbali,” hurry, was almost universally known amongst GIs, as was “yogi,” here, and “chogi,” there. When riding in the back of a “kimchi cab” just pointing and yelling “yogi” was usually enough to convince the driver to stop.

      Many GIs never actually learned the Korean word for beer since there were only two brands available at that time, OB or Crown. Naming them, along with forking out 90 won, earned you a frothing brown bottle of suds.

      The made-up English word “slicky” was used often. It comes from the desperate situation some Koreans faced during the war, when boys would sneak onto military encampments, risking their lives, to steal precious items such as food, medicine or heating fuel, in a desperate attempt to keep their families alive.

      Perplexed GI guards would often comment, “Those boys are slick.” Thus the noun “slicky boys” and the verb “slicky” meaning “to steal.” And possibly my favorite tongue-in-cheek comment of all time: “You slicky my ping-pong heart.”

      Another comment one often heard was “same same,” which makes sense because the mere repetition of the word indicates the idea the person is trying to convey. But the words often came out sounding like “sae-muh sae-muh.”

      This developed into a phrase used even today: “Same old, same old.” Which is a corruption, I believe, of Eighth U.S. Army GI slang.

      It might not be much but these words and phrases still stand as Yongsan Compound’s contribution to the wider world of linguistics.

      Martin Limon is a full-time writer who retired from the army with 20 years of military service, 10 of which he spent in Korea. One of his 12 novels is titled “Slicky Boys.” Another, “Ping-pong Heart.”

      • note from Veteran George Breen @239flathead

        I enjoyed the message in Yongsan Legacy,”A new laungage”.
        The main words did change with time.. Being a little different when I was there. Chogi and Yogi, were certainly there !

    • Historian uncovers Yongsan Garrison’s ancient roots
      By By Kyung Lee

      Posted : 2018-02-27 18:56

      Kim Chun-soo first set foot on Yongsan Garrison in 2002 when he entered his mandatory military service. There, he encountered scattered pieces of trimmed stone blocks while on a routine tour of Camp Coiner in the northern corner of the garrison, and suspected their origins were significant.

      Already versed in Korea’s history dating from the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom through the post-war and contemporary eras, Kim suspected the stones were once bigger and more geometrically refined ― more akin to Sajik Altar located northwest of downtown Seoul. A single media report in 2005 indeed confirmed his first suspicions the rocks also served as a ritual platform called Namdan, according to an 1861 Joseon map.

      Recent photographs showing barbecue grills placed casually on either end of one stone, as well as a reasonable height of bricks laid upon another. Unearthing the exact dimensions of these structures will certainly be a daunting endeavor in the years to come. Civilians will be able to document cultural relics like this that lay unspoken within the garrison.

      “People were under the initial impression the U.S. military erected them,” said Kim, now a research director at the Yongsan Cultural Center.

      “The fact that the vast majority of people don’t know much about these stones presents a great challenge to our research efforts.”

      To investigate both the historical and structural origins of Namdan and Yongsan Garrison in their unaltered state, Kim emphasizes his itching efforts to build an accurate timeline spanning back to Joseon, perhaps even earlier, through the Japanese and American military influences, to provide insight into the altar.

      For his independent project he has collected early maps and photographs of the area, prior to its designation as Camp Coiner, that show dramatic changes to Yongsan’s landscape. In 1920 the 26th Artillery Regiment of the Japanese Imperial Army turned a marching ground into an army barracks. After the occupation ended, Quonset huts and other military structures popped up when elements of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division took over prior to the Korean War.

      Until an official full-scale hand-to-soil examination of Namdan takes place, Kim says interacting with such records is key to understanding the gradual transformations the area underwent over the ages.

      “I believe geographical features of the area can paint a more vivid image of the events that occurred well before Yongsan Garrison was given its name,” he said.

      “We have to take into account the natural elements as well as people to explain how and what changes to Namdan and other potential artifacts in Yongsan Garrison unfolded.”

      Kim currently heads a special exhibition on Yongsan history at the War Memorial of Korea until May 6. Visit yongsanlegacy.org to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

    • Discovering Broadway on Yongsan Garrison
      By Samia Mounts

      As the U.S. military relocates out of Yongsan Garrison, Yongsan Legacy aims to archive the living memories of those who served, worked and lived there. This is one of them.

      When my family moved to Seoul in 1989, I was a precocious six-year-old who had just discovered her love for the stage. My dad was a JAG lawyer for the U.S. Air Force, and later became the U.S. SOFA secretary, and my mom was a teacher and school administrator who worked for the schools on post.

      Luckily for my young heart, there was a thriving community theater program on Yongsan Garrison, my new home. We had this beautiful old theater on South Post, complete with dozens of dusty costume racks in the attic, a scene shop backstage on the ground floor, a gorgeous auditorium space with tiered seating and a stage big enough for full-scale musicals and plays. In the lobby hung framed posters from former productions. I used to stare at them, wishing I could have been there. “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Blithe Spirit,” “The Importance Of Being Earnest,” “Kiss Me, Kate!” _ all the standard titles were represented.

      It felt magical to me, full of glittering potential. I worked to be involved in as many productions as I could. I performed the role of Annie in a revue of classic musicals called “Broadway Tonight!” I played the best friend in an original holiday musical called “The Silent Bells,” written by my very own drama teacher _ and personal hero at the time _ Janet O’Neill. My crowning achievement was playing the title role in a melodrama called “The Belle of Bisbee,” a production the elementary school staged. Nothing thrilled me more than being a part of all that magic, whether I was on stage or in the audience. Thanks to that theater, I knew by the time I was eight, I wanted to be an actor.

      Then, a fire destroyed the housing office on post. Our theater was undamaged, but all those offices and workers needed a new space and the theater was the most expendable option. They put all the dusty costumes, hundreds of medieval gowns and zoot suits and poodle skirts, into storage. They gutted the scene shop and auditorium. They moved in office supplies and dividers and computers. That magical, sparkling haven was gone forever.

      They never replaced it, and Yongsan Garrison’s community theater program died a slow death. It moved to the auditorium at the Moyer Rec Center on Main Post, but that didn’t last long. I produced a couple of shows myself in high school, even used some set pieces and costumes pulled from storage, but it wasn’t the same.

      There was never the right kind of backstage energy. The ghosts of past productions, the smell of woodchips from the scene shop, the musty aura of old costumes, the glorious history of the place shimmering just beneath the surface _ all of that was missing in the new, cramped spaces.

      But I’ll never forget what that old theater gave me. It’s the deepest certainty I’ve ever had in my life: theaters are magical, and I was made for the stage.

      The writer is an actor, voice actor and singer active in New York and Seoul. In 2008 she published the young adult novel “Frunk the Skunk” set in a high school in Yongsan Garrison. Visit yongsanlegacy.org to read more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

    • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of YSL KoreaTimes ColumnYSL KoreaTimes Column 2 months, 1 week ago

      ‘5,000-year-old culture collides with gaggle of knucklehead GIs’
      By Martin Limon

      For me, it all started on Yongsan Compound. A place where a 5,000-year-old culture collided with a gaggle of knucklehead GIs (myself included) who could barely find Korea on a map. The result was occasionally tragic, sometimes beautiful, but always provided an opportunity to become someone better.

      In the early 1970s, Yongsan Compound was a happening place. Korea was still emerging from the post-war era and the citizenry was buzzing over the recently completed Seoul-to-Busan highway and the high-rise buildings newly peeking above the skyline of the capital city. Meanwhile, Yongsan Compound was open _ relatively speaking _ to the world. The main gate was nothing more than a roll-back chain-link fence manned by a lone MP. At the Pedestrian Gate, a contract guard checked Korean base workers and military members and waved them through. So unlike the massive defensive structures protecting the gates today.

      Yongsan Compound was seen as a cornucopia of tax-free luxuries: Johnny Walker Black, Kent cigarettes, Stateside staples such as Folger’s freeze-dried crystals, S&H pure cane sugar, canned salted pork shoulder, even jars of maraschino cherries. Massive amounts of these imports were transported off base to help supply the appetites of a newly burgeoning Korean middle class.

      Patti Kim performed at the USOM Club, the Grand Old Opry at the NCO Club, and some of the best Korean singers and bands put on shows at military venues throughout the country. Politicians and chaebol owners hobnobbed with generals on the manicured lawns of the 8th Army Golf Course. Expert taekwondo instructors took students through their paces at Trent Gym. Night classes leading to degrees were offered by the University of Maryland Far East Division.

      But there was trouble in paradise. Crime, not only on base but off-base. Theft, embezzlement, strong-armed robberies, rape and even murder, most often perpetrated by GIs on the Korean public.

      This was the genesis for the series of novels I was eventually to write, beginning with “Jade Lady Burning” in 1992, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and most recently “The Nine-Tailed Fox” published by Soho Press in October 2017. My protagonists are George Sueno and Ernie Bascom, two 8th Army CID agents who because of Sueno’s Korean language skills and Bascom’s ability to blend in with lowlifes of any nationality, come to take on cases of increasingly ominous portent. They’ve appeared in 12 books so far, plus a short stories collection. It all comes from my years spent in Yongsan.

      Martin Limon is a full-time writer who retired from the army with 20 years of military service. He spent 10 years in Korea on three tours: 1968-69, 1973-76 and 1977-80. Visit yongsanlegacy.org to learn more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

      http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/01/177_242121.html

    • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of YSL KoreaTimes ColumnYSL KoreaTimes Column 2 months, 1 week ago

      Yongsan and the Electric Mayhem
      By Micah Granderson

      I enjoyed growing up around Yongsan Garrison. Outdoors, kids played roller hockey on streets lined with old gingko trees that turned fragrant in the fall. It had almost the look of a college campus, if a bit more rustic and utilitarian. The public spaces indoors were a different matter altogether. They roared with music, thudded with explosions and shook with the rattle of machine guns. But this wasn’t precisely military related.

      In the early 1980s, video game arcades went through another boom in the United States as clanky pinball machines gave way to video cabinets with digital sound and blasting subwoofers. Perhaps the leadership of the post didn’t immediately see the benefits of shipping heavy arcade machines across the Pacific, but that changed suddenly. Overseas military posts are packed with young men, mostly fond of arcades, all with regular government-issued paychecks, all separated from loved ones and slightly bored. It became apparent to those in charge that buying arcade machines was as good as printing money when it came to balancing the post activity budget.

      At first there were two main arcades. Dragon Hill Lodge was the plushest with deep carpets and massive game setups, the size of a walk-in refrigerator. The competition was a far seedier room in the Townhouse, that had the advantage of being directly across from the Post Exchange. Incredibly long but too narrow, there was almost no overhead lighting, just soldiers packed in by the hundreds anyway to play or cheer on their friends. Being the 1980s, every third person held a cigarette. Overall it was a choking, claustrophobic, disco-lit, deafening madhouse. But, to my seven-year-old eyes, it was magic.

      Soon game machines sprang up in every public space, down to every spare nook and cranny.

      There were machines at the snack bar, across the back of the bowling alley, machines annoyingly close to the payphone. The older generation was getting fed up, but to the soldiers and youngsters, it was one non-stop party.

      Returning to Yongsan recently, I found the garrison where I grew up quiet and eerie. Home game consoles and depopulation of the base had taken their toll. The gleeful din that dominated every public space was gone. Entrance rooms had become ghostly quiet with nothing but a cellphone conversation echoing through the halls. To me it was as if every building decided, in a single moment, to stub out their Marlboros and take a vow of silence.

      Visit yongsanlegacy.org to learn more about the history of Seoul’s disappearing U.S. garrison or to contribute your own memories.

      http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/12/177_241462.html

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