In the morning rush hour, the city’s trams were always full of standing passengers. A brave man was suspended outside the tram door holding handrail with one hand, dangling his briefcase with the other. It resembled a scene in San Francisco. Those passengers who had get off at Samkajji station were mostly headed to the Gate #1 (now Gate #16) located along the Hangang Boulevard
It was in 1973 when I was a second grader at Sangmyeong school when you were with an American design firm named Trans-Asia Engineers (TAE) in Main Post of Yongsan Garrison. You had to pick me up at my school in Samkakji as my class ended about 2 p.m. While you had to stay with a large slanted drafting board until five in the afternoon, I walked around the offices peeking into here and there.
“For two hours, the men could forget they were soldiers at war. After the show, they returned to the fighting in the hills. Some in that audience never made it back.”
USO, to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel
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.
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.
“If we knew each other. If we understood each other as a friend. This foolish war would never have happened. I sincerely hope that a day would come where everyone could overcome their differences through talking and not fighting. Finally, we are friends now,” the former Imperial Japanese Navy pilot who had dropped the first and only bomb onto the American soil, wrote in his diary.