US FORCES KOREA
Fire station commander willing to help fight fire outside USAG-Y compound
USAG-Y commander meets Itaewon
bar owners to improve safety, security
Colonel Michael E. Masley, commander of the United States Army Garrison in Yongsan, and Chairman Yoo Won-sun of the Itaewon Bar Owners Association (IBOA) met at the Twilight Zone Club in Itaewon on July 24, 2013 together with Itaewon Police Sub-station Chief Senior Inspector Kim Woo-joon and about a dozen other members of the USAG-Y and a similar number of bar owners of the Itaewon area in Seoul.
The meeting was for signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the USAG-Y and the IBOA to improve the safety measures at the Itaewon bars and clubs for the United States military personnel and their dependents visiting them, including precautions against fire hazards and possible physical harms.
Attendees of the meeting from the USAG-Y side, besides Colonel Masely, were the Deputy Commander, Fire Station chief, the Public Relations chief and Director An Chang-sin of the USAG-Y Community Relations Department.
Attendees from the IBOA side, besides Chairman Yoo Won-sun and Senior Inspector Kim Woo-joon of the Itaewon Police Sub-station and owners of various bars in the Itaewon area.
Speaking at the meeting, Colonel Masely said in part: “I am pleased to join you today to sign the memorandum of understanding. This MOU will strengthen the partnership between the Itaewon bar owners’s association and U.S. army Garrison Yongsan. Today’s MOU signing reaffirms our great partnership and aims for collaboration between two great organizations to address common challenges and to strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance.” (See further details toward the end of this Article.)
From the Korean side, Chairman Yoo Won-sun of the IBOA spoke for the Korean bar owners. He said: “By today’s meeting, Itaewon Bar Owner’s Association is willing to promote goodwill with the USAG Yongsan and endeavor to improve interactive friendship as well as making Itaewon area a home away from home for the US soldiers and their dependents. Also, I can fully guarantee that Itaewon is now safe from the major worries of the US such as safety problems including terror, drug, prostitution, human trafficking, underage drinking. These will be done by virtue of the efforts made by the IBOA for self-purification and strong enforcement of the law and regulations by the Yongsan Police Station.”
Then there was exchange of questions and answers between the representatives of the USAG Yongsan and the representatives of the IBOA. The so-called entertainment facilities, including bars and clubs, are places which are patronized mostly by young people and naturally there are bound to occur cases of violence and, according to Korean media reports, violations of prostitution control laws and regulations. Both sides sought to find solution to such problems.
One outstanding suggestion came from the fire station chief of the USAG Yongsang who made a few suggestions for the safety of guests at the bars and clubs in time of fire, and offered to help fight fire in the Korean community. He said he was confident that the USAG commander would order him to join fire-fighting if a big fire broke out in the Itaewon or other areas outside of, but adjacent to, the USAG compound.
Colonel Masley takes strong interest in the promotion of close relations, friendship and cooperation with the Korean community in the Yongsan area where the US military compounds are located, which includes participation in the cleanup service, tree-planting in Yongsan on Arbor Day and participation in the Itaewon Special Tourism Zone Association? international tourism event supported by the Yongsan District Government and The Korea Post.
The USAG-IBOA meeting is expected to substantially contribute to the promotion of the safety of the USAG and other patrons and visitors to the Itaewon bars and also to good business in Itaewon as improvement of safety for the customers would be conducive to increase of visitors.
Excerpts from the speech of USAG-Y commander:
Chairman Yoo, Senior Inspector Kim and member of the Itaewon bar owners’ association.
I’ve been stationed in Korea for almost a year now, and I can tell you that Itaewon is much different compared to when I was here over ten years ago.
Itaewon is home to bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. And that’s not just to Koreans… and not just to Americans. But home to a lively and diverse international collection of individuals and personalities ever assembled.
Itaewon brings together many great people…and it also brings out the best in people here in Korea.
This is a true testament to what Itaewon has to offer and also to the Itaewon bar owners’ association that makes it all possible.
And I am confident that I can continue to look to the people in this room as partners to ensure measures are in place for the safety of our area II service members, families and civilians.
Our sixty-year strong alliance is based on our shared values and personal friendships.
So on behalf of the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, I look forward to shaping tighter the future of Itaewon and our great partnership for generations to come.
Kam-Sa-Ham-Ni-Da! (Thank you) Kat-Chi Kap-Shi-Da (Let’s go together!). k