The majority of Koreans have derived great pleasures from being acquainted with the USFK personnel not only at Yongsan Garrison but also other U.S. military camps in Korea. We say most sincerely grateful for the USFK personnel’s hard effort to teach us the latest design and construction standards, as well as upgrading the morals, English too, among us, all of which had greatly helped Korea to become the fastest growing country in the world.
When we visit newly developed Yongsan Park starting next year, we would miss you, the wonderful soldiers and civilians, very much and we will remember mountains of engineering and cultural gifts you would have left behind in Yongsan Garrison.
And as a student of architectural and engineer, I myself fully exercised the knowledge I had obtained, all free of charge or rather being well paid, and have lived my life very well. Those Korean friends being employed by the USFK have lived or are living well, some of them were given US citizenship by serving the same unit over 30 years.
You have greatly helped Korea to become the fastest growing country in the world so that South Korea was able to obtain 10 times of the GNP than North Korea. The North was economically superior to South before the Korean War.
The USFK employed over 40,000 Korean technicians and workers at its peak and it’s known that about 15,000 Koreans are being employed now.
Giant step forward international design/construction bidding
The majority of the TAE employees were later recruited by Korean construction companies and placed at responsible positions, and the architectural and engineering technologies they had acquired with TAE and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had become invaluable assets for getting overseas construction projects. They knew how to interpret bidding documents that included the terms of contract, special and technical specifications. They knew how to estimate project costs and had a keen knowledge of how to carry out projects employing Critical Path Methods (CPM), which is an algorithm for scheduling a set of project activities and is an important tool for effective project management. The Corps of Engineers had classes to each the application of the CPM to Korean architect/engineers.
Bid winning news from the Middle East, Southeast Asian countries decorate newspapers often nowadays. The brave Korean architects and engineers with the construction firms active in the overseas can usually trace their roots back to TAE – they know that they have learned from their fathers, uncles and architects from the Building 1510 in the North Post of Yongsan Garrison, who had taught the latest engineering techniques to many Koreans including the former chairmen of Hyundai Construction Co., Ltd. and or Doosan Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd., and numerous others when South Korea was in the midst of rapid development.
Korean engineering and construction companies were not afraid of Chinese, Taiwanese or Japanese competitors, who had no experience to learn to read the international bidding documents and to tender the lowest acceptable bids. Many international biddings were prepared and managed by Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco which used the same U.S. standards as the Corps of Engineers. For several years, I evaluated the construction bids for Korean construction companies, utilizing the architectural/engineering expertise gained in designing numerous U.S. military facilities in Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bangladesh and Negara Brunei Darussalam. I once won an international design competition held for the Jubail Industrial Zone, Saudi Arabia, competing with the architects from France, Germany, Egypt and England.
The Building 1510, built with cement hollow block bearing walls, now silently sits on the hill of the North Post, Yongsan Garrison, overlooking the widened Hangang Avenue and high-rise apartments in Samkakji with the reminiscent of trams noisily running often releasing electrical sparks high at the trolley. The building was no doubt the headspring of the Korean evolutionary river of the architectural/engineering field.
The U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan is being scheduled to be relocated into Camp Humphreys. The new landscape architects for the new Yongsan Park, I hope, will notice that the Building 1510 exists with the great legacies of the pioneer American and Korean architects and engineers during the reconstruction era after the Korean War.
Before I step out of this platform I would like to say the most important words; In the 3 years of Korean War the United States Forces Korea sacrificed 36,574 dead, 103,284 wounded, 7,926 missing in action, and 4,714 POWs.
Since I’m a civilian my presentation today was concentrated on the engineering and construction sectors and fine cultural impact given by the USFK, rather skipping the war stories. However, I would like to say thank you US and UN Forces in Korea. When the June 6th, Memorial Day in Korea, comes around, we won’t forget to make a prayer for those who are resting in peace.
By retired architect and specification writer Nam SangSo