Busan and Geoje - Rich in History and Beauty

As part of my continuing outreach efforts and desire to see as much of Korea as I can, I recently took my second trip to Busan. This time I added Geoje Island to the itinerary.

In Geoje, I visited the Heungnam Evacuation Operation Commemoration Monument located in the Geoje POW Camp.  People had gathered for the 10th Annual Heungnam Evacuation Commemoration Ceremony.  If you saw the movie “Ode to My Father,” you would have seen the vivid depiction of the evacuation during the Korean War. (http://goo.gl/j5a1gS)  The site was set up in an interesting fashion with exhibits both indoors and outdoors.  It seemed like a museum and an interactive theme park in one venue.  A stirring exhibit – very moving to see – was The Bridge of No Return, which commemorates the struggles from that time period.  Park Jin, Executive President of the Asia Future Institute, was with me on the visit, and he said that his father was on the evacuation ship.  As a doctor, his father was an important member on board and helped to deliver several babies.  In fact, I was able to meet with some of the children – now adults – who were born on board the ship.

In front of the Heungnam Evacuation Operation Commemoration Monument

On a very upbeat note, we attended the NC Dinos baseball game at Masan Baseball Stadium.  I met the President of the team, Lee Tae-il.  He was previously a famous sports writer for Joongang Ilbo and I found it fascinating that he wrote about baseball for so many years and now is able to run the team.  He must have learned a lot about sports management because, at the game I attended, they won their 7th game in a row!  It was also interesting to hear how they are trying to expand the team, get foreign personnel, and maximize their talent when recruiting. 

With NC Dinos President Lee Tae-il

When I returned to Seoul, I met with the owner of the NC Dinos Kim Taek-jin who is heavily invested and deeply involved with the team.  We had a wonderful discussion about his ownership style and why the Dinos are doing so well this year.  Best of luck to the NC Dinos!!!

Another memorable stop was a visit to the ROK Naval Academy and a meeting with Rear Admiral Lisa Franchetti, Commander of the United States Naval Forces Korea.  At the ROK Naval Academy, I met with around 500 midshipmen and answered their questions.  One of the highlights was being able to award midshipman Seo Ki-Won with his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  Getting admitted to the Naval Academy is extremely difficult and we are all proud of soon-to-be Annapolis Midshipman Seo.  As they say in the Navy, Bravo Zulu!  I appreciated that Rear Admiral Kim Jong-sam, the Vice Superintendent of the ROK Naval Academy, took time out of his busy schedule to welcome me to the school. It is an institution rich in tradition, learning and leadership – I was extremely impressed by the students, faculty and staff!

Best wishes to Seo Ki-Won!

I always try to fit in a trip to a local university, as the students here in Korea are so bright, interesting, and curious.  I learn as much, if not more, from them as they do from me.  Busan was no different.  I visited Pukyong National University for a town hall meeting with around 200 students and President Kim Young-Seup.  The school mascot is very cute, a dinosaur called the Pukyongosaurus, named for the Pukyongosaurus millennium dinosaur – the second dinosaur discovered in Korea – on display on campus.  The enrollment rate of the school is up, now with over 28,000 students.  I learned that 170,000 graduates have gone on to significant jobs in government, media, business, and academia.  It was a great back-and-forth, and the conversation covered everything from favorite books to personal issues to important U.S.-ROK policy developments.    

Recognize me in the crowd?

It was terrific to visit Busan again and gain a deeper appreciation of the history there and, as a former Navy man, naturally it was wonderful for me to build more bridges with the naval community in the ROK as well.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sir, thank you for celebration. I cannot forget the time when I shook hands with you. I will be the bridge between the ROK Navy and other countries' navies. Thank you again.

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