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    U.S. Soldiers and Marines embrace local tradition at Dangjin Tug-of-War Festival

    U.S. service members participate in the annual Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival

    Photo By Sgt. Robert Sullivan | U.S. Soldiers with with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Humphreys , U.S....... read more read more



    Story by Jeff Nagan 

    USAG Humphreys

    DANGJIN CITY, South Korea — Against the backdrop of Dangjin city's historic streets, the rhythmic chant of participants and the beating of ceremonial drums and cymbals echoed as roughly 30 U.S. Soldiers and Marines, alongside Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army, lent their strength to the age-old tradition of the Dangjin Gigsi Tug-of-War Festival, April 14.

    The event, steeped in a rich history, spanning centuries, saw military personnel from the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys join forces with local residents in a display of camaraderie and cultural exchange.

    “This event was a chance to experience a local tradition that goes back more than 500 years,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Isaiah Alcorn, legal chief, Marine Forces Korea, who is from Murrieta, Calif. “It was a memorable event and an awesome opportunity to build relationships with the locals and learn about their culture."

    First Sergeant Jesus Duran of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, noted the importance of such cultural engagements, which aim to build understanding and unity between U.S. service members and the local community.

    “It is extremely important for service members stationed in the Republic of Korea to participate in events such as these,” Duran stated, who hails from Las Vegas, Nev. “Participating in these events really allows the service members to integrate with the people and culture we are here to support.”

    The day’s activities began with an exclusive tour of the Dangjin City Tug-of-War Museum, where a tour guide explained the historical significance of the festival and how Korea is one of four countries where tug of war is listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Intangible Cultural Heritage.

    “The gentleman who gave us the tour was very welcoming and had a lot of knowledge of the history of the event,” said Duran.

    Following the museum tour, the U.S. Soldiers and Marines engaged in an exhibition tug-of-war match against the reigning champions of the Dangjin City tug-of-war tournament. The U.S. team lost the first match but won the next two bouts.

    “The locals who were participating made all the Soldiers feel welcomed and were constantly giving us tips on how to pull the rope more efficiently,” Duran remarked. “From the tour of the museum to the ceremonial rope pulling, the Soldiers and Marines had fun and felt welcomed the entire day.”

    Following the exhibition match, the service members joined the vice mayor and other city officials for a traditional Korean lunch, which featured mackerel, bulgogi, assorted kimchi, and other side dishes. After lunch, the U.S. Soldiers and Marines joined hundreds of local residents and international participants to pull two multi-ton ropes, which exceeded a meter in diameter and were each about 100 meters long. They faced a two-kilometer stretch, concluding with an ascent up a hill.

    “As we were spread out on all sides of the rope, all the service members were being cheered on by the local people,” said Duran. “They rushed to provide us water during the small breaks and give us tips on how to effectively pull the rope.”

    After approximately two hours, the first rope reached the hill's summit, the ceremonial area for the final event. However, progress was slower for the second rope, which struggled to ascend the hill. U.S. service members rallied to assist, joining forces with the other group to successfully pull it to the top. With both ropes now at the summit, they were tied together using a large wooden pin.

    Once assembled, the two teams positioned themselves for the final event. Having spent most of the day on the first rope, the service members found themselves on the second rope for this decisive moment. However, perhaps due to their added strength, the second rope won in the final tug-of-war match. With this triumph, the day’s event ended.

    “The ROK-U.S. Alliance is much more than service members working and training together,” said Duran. “It also means understanding and appreciating each other’s cultures and history. These types of community events make it enjoyable to be stationed at Camp Humphreys and really allow the Soldiers here to see and do things they normally wouldn’t.”

    The U.S. Soldiers and Marines are looking forward to participating in next year’s event, said both Duran and Alcorn.

    “We thank Camp Humphreys for visiting the Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival this year,” said Dangjin City Mayor O Sung-hwan. “With the inclusion of many people from Camp Humphreys, this event was even more brilliant. Thank you to each of those who participated.”



    Date Taken: 04.14.2024
    Date Posted: 04.19.2024 01:04
    Story ID: 468910
    Location: DANGJIN CITY, 48, KR
    Hometown: LAS VEGAS, NV, US
    Hometown: MURRIETA, CA, US

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