My magical days in Yongsan Garrison 1970-1977

Contributor: Diane Dahnert

I have beautiful memories of Yongsan. I really do! My time there was magical; something I’ll always treasure and never forget. It may have been a military base, but I can assure you that my friends and I knew that something unique was going on there. It was a time when everyone got along, loved Korea and looked on people as friends. I wish the rest of the world could have had the same experience.

Topic: Celebration, community, cultural exchange, Education, People, Yongsan Legacy
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We moved to Seoul in 1970 when I was five. I recall that the Bank of America branch was located in a brick building just across the parking lot from the Moyer Service Center. It had a half-circle over the entryway. My Dad, Mr. Albert A. Kliene, was the branch manager and oversaw the banking facilities for the outlying camps as well.

I recall vaguely the use of MPC instead of real cash, and how excited everyone was when real American money made its debut on base! Every time there was a new shipment of money arriving, Dad was there to supervise. He used to let me and my brother go into the vault and see all the money stored there. That was fun!

In later years the bank was relocated to another site on base, but I can’t recall where that was. I believe it was somewhere near where the PX was on base, or near the AFKN studios. At least it was on that side of Yongsan.

I have attached the pictures of my Dad at the grand opening of the relocated branch. My Dad is the civilian in a suit and glasses.

Bank Of America Grand Opening _ Main Post_ 1970’s Mr. Albert A. Kliene, the branch manager (civilian in a suit and glasses) Photo source: Diane Dahnert

I enjoyed activities like the Halloween parade every year that I lived near Yongsan garrison ( I didn’t live on base because we didn’t rate base housing – my dad was employed through a contract with DoD for the  banking facilities. I lived off base in Embassy housing. Our neighbor was the Israeli Embassy, in fact!). Other activities we looked forward to was the annual Chusok celebration. The whole school would dress in traditional Korean clothing. I must have owned at least three hanbok!

The photographs below are from my first-grade year. Every year the elementary school would have a huge Halloween parade that went through the neighborhood and past the 121st Evac Hospital. I always looked forward to this event eagerly. These pictures are of me, and my classmates on parade. Afterwards there was always apple juice and other refreshments on the playground. One picture shows a lady in a red blouse, handing out drinks. That’s my mom!

My mother involved herself with several groups on base. She was a member of the bowling league and on Saturdays she was a coach for the kids’ league. I used to bowl in the kids’ league and one year I was the Singles Champion. I still have my bowling shirt! Mom also was an avid golfer (as was my Dad) and they were members of the Golf Club. My mom joined the Officers Wives Club (OWC) and helped out with projects including fundraising and charity work for local orphanages. She also hosted bridge games at our house many times. She was a den mother for my brother’s Cub Scout pack and often helped out at school functions, like the Halloween parade. She was awesome!

I have beautiful memories of Yongsan. I really do! My time there was magical; something I’ll always treasure and never forget. It may have been a military base, but I can assure you that my friends and I (and even some of the older high schoolers I talked to) knew that something unique was going on there. It was a time when everyone got along, loved Korea and looked on people as friends. I wish the rest of the world could have had the same experience.

Thank you for letting me share some of my memories.

Diane Dahnert