Beyond confidential: mapping Yongsan Garrison through personal narratives

Contributor: Kyung Lee

If dedicating USAG Yongsan’s 70-year existence without taking into account the childhood memories, search for loved ones, or a cultural tour of Seoul, our future generations will grasp little or nothing if the military base was simply replaced by a grassy field with only bronze plaques reading passages from textbooks verbatim.

Topic: community, Mapping, People, Yongsan Legacy

If dedicating USAG Yongsan’s 70-year existence without taking into account the childhood memories, search for loved ones, or a cultural tour of Seoul, our future generations will grasp little or nothing if the military base was simply replaced by a grassy field with only bronze plaques reading passages from textbooks verbatim.

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People like Sang-so Nam, Peter Yeschenko, or Samia Mounts didn’t cross paths while growing up in the U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Yongsan but they, along with other contributors, take to the Yongsan Legacy platform to chronicle their stories to piece together the military base’s physical histories and intangible memories.

 

If dedicating USAG Yongsan’s 70-year existence without taking into account the childhood memories, search for loved ones, or a cultural tour of Seoul, our future generations will grasp little or nothing if the military base was simply replaced by a grassy field with only bronze plaques reading passages from textbooks verbatim.

 

To provoke a deep sense of curiosity among future park visitors regarding the memories and the approximately 1,000 structures that housed them, contributors like Mr. Nam shares fragments of his moments at USAG Yongsan.

 

Building 1510, one of the structures set to be demolished, is an unassuming single-story building in the Main Post that housed Trans-Asia Engineering. After reading biographical snippets of the late Prince Kyu Lee by Mr. Nam, visitors may marvel at the Nevada-based firm’s key infrastructure and post-war reconstruction accomplishments of Incheon Port and the Trans-Korea Pipeline, with also having a renewed sense of appreciation for architecture and construction industries in South Korea.

 

Other contributors like Paul Black, who has served in Yongsan from 1958-1959, details his trips to the rustic Seoul neighborhoods surrounding the base through old photographs. A collection was donated to the Korea National Archive in 2016, but like Mr. Black, Rich Kent, Scott Forrey, and other contributors intend to share their most personal collections through Yongsan Legacy, filled with commentaries that help reconstruct the state and transformation of Yongsan over a 70-year timeline.

 

We can also learn something neat about Korean music’s re-emergence and transformation from the war starting with one of its legends and “Godfather” of Korean rock, Shin Jung-hyun, who tells the project that he considers the Yongsan Enlisted Members Club his “home,” which is close to Gate 3 next to Noksapyeong Station.

 

With also sharing his experiences auditioning for the AFKN from the late 1950’s, Mr. Shin’s genuine and nostalgic descriptions sparks a heartfelt connection with K-pop and music lovers visiting the park, as well as for those who have strong interests in the origins of architecture in Korea, what arcade games existed at the Dragon Hill Lodge, with every building’s history accounted for with countless memories obtained by the project.

 

December 17, 2017  By Kyung Lee