For most of March, I was in Korea for a military training exercise. As I tell my family, it’s the best place the Army has sent me so far. Considering the alternatives, the choice is easy. Despite the popularity of social media, I still don’t like to share when I’m away from home. Weird, I know. It must be my military training – OPSEC or operational security – kicking in. But, I’m home now and loving every minute, especially now that maple syrup season is in full swing.
Korea is the perfect blend to travel with ease, with enough in English to get around, yet the distinct feel of being in another country. Subway routes are listed in English, making it easy to explore, and most popular tourist destinations are clearly marked. Yet, even with American presence dating back to the Korean War, they still maintain their own unique cultural identity.
Coming from Hamburg (entire township population less than 1,000) and transitioning to life in Seoul (population of almost 26 million in the greater Seoul area) is interesting to say the least. Luckily, I adapt quickly. The people are very friendly and welcoming. The countryside, actually the entire country, is very mountainous. That means disappearing into the woods is only a subway ride away. Perfect for this country boy.
Underlying all that is the constant reminder that war is only a misstep away. North Korea’s increasing belligerence keeps that forefront on everyone’s mind. That’s why I was there – to ensure the Republic of Korea and United States alliance remains strong to prevent war.
This is the introduction to an upcoming 3-part series on my time in South Korea. Stay tuned.
First Published Here: April 7, 2016