News: My Korea, my life – Pfc. Park
Story by Pfc. Gun Woo Song
CAMP CASEY, South Korea – The Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army program has existed for more than 60 years and it showcases the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the U.S.
For Pfc. Sanghyeok Park, from La Crescenta, California, an automated logistical specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it means family.
Park is a Korean-American Soldier serving in the U.S. Army. His father served as a ROK counterpart for the U.S. Army, as a KATUSA, roughly 35 years ago.
“It means a lot to me to be serving here in Korea, especially when my father served as a KATUSA,” said Park. “He is also very proud that I am a U.S. Soldier now.”
Park had to leave his father behind and move to the U.S. with the rest of his family when he was a child. Now, Park is able to see his father more often.
“I try to see him as much as possible,” said Park. “We have been apart for so long, way too long.”
For Park, serving in Korea has allowed him to build a stronger relationship with his father.
“I think it gave me the opportunity to improve my relationship with my dad,” said Park. “I am always thrilled that I get the chance to see him so often.”
When they’re together, it’s like a normal father-son team. They eat out and have nice chats. Typically, Park’s father tries to help him learn more about Korean culture.
“He sometimes asks questions about Korean culture since there are some parts that he is unfamiliar with,” said Park Sang-ki, Park’s father. “I try to explain my best, hoping that he wouldn’t forget about Korea.”
Although most Koreans do not know very much about the U.S. Army, this does not bother the Park family since his father has experience as a KATUSA during the time when he served as a human resource specialist in Yongsan, South Korea.
Park’s father mentioned that he is glad to have his son serving in Korea.
“I’m thankful that my son gets to serve in and for the country that he was born in,” said Park’s father. “I tell him not to forget where his roots are, and to always take pride in it.”
Park also mentioned that he is glad he was afforded the opportunity to serve in Korea.
“It’s great to be serving in Korea where I get to be around all the people that were with me when I was born,” said Park. “It’s a place that I’ve always missed and will always miss.”