Friday, 27 July 2012

Today, the 27th of July, is the 59th Commemoration Anniversary of the Armistice Agreement – by Anders Grenstad

Today was the commemoration of the 59th year of the Armistice Agreement up in Panmunjom. As every year it is marked by the UNC Commander, right now General Thurman, coming up to the DMZ, visiting Conference Row and NNSC, together with the senior leadership from UNC (United Nations Command), CFC (Combined Forces Command) and USFK (United States Forces Korea).

91 year old General Paik Sun-Yup, who was 1st ID (Infantry Division) commander during the Korean War, was there together with the UNC Commander (General Thurman) as always. General Paik was also participating, between 1951 to 1953 when the AA (Armistice Agreement) was worked out. General Paik is a living testimony in South Korea.

General Paik became the Republic of Korea’s Chief of Army and Supreme commander. After his pension in 1960 He became ambassador to ROK in China, France and finally Canada.

Since 1995 NNSC does not have any communication with the north, since at that time the Czech Republic and Poland were kicked out from their host country. But as always an invitation was send to the north (since they have participated in the past), however this time an answer was received…….

To: Colonel XXXXXXX, US army

On July 23, your side sent a telephone message of inviting our side to a so-called commemoration in the name of Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC). It is preposterous for former NNSC, the ghost mechanism to hold commemoration and it is quite farce to invite us to the infeasible event. It is a vivid mockery and provocation against our side to offer an unreasonable invitation by the armistice organ which has already ended its existence for your intentional demolition of the Armistice Agreement. Your side should not repeat such foolish act of putting ahead the fallen Armistice organ that has never acknowledged by our side. Our side warns your side that the repetition of such act will only bring our corresponding counter-measures.

From: Senior Colonel XXXXXX Korean People’s Army


I guess there was no interest to attend from their side.

Respect for the Armistice Argreement shown by members of UNMAC (United Nations Military Armistice Commission), UNC (United Nations Command) and NNSC (Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission) 

Until this day, 1 ID still provides NNSC's security in the area.

On the Military Demarcation Line at Conference Row in Panmunjom.

Time for reflection.

Planning to continue to comply to the Armistage Agreement.

Pictures taken by captain Lee (left) here together with Tech.Sergent Donat. Thank You! Jeayeon.

On the southern side of the penisula, the respect for the Armistice Agreement is real and kept, the NNSC is invited to see that all parts in the South adhere to the Armistice Agreement.

Anders Grenstad

Friday, 20 July 2012

Traffic in Seoul, Korea…..

Although the public transport in Seoul is absolutely fantastic, it definitely has sometime its advantages to take the car to your place of destination!

Anders and I do so, when we go to Sung Nam golf course, take a tour or like I yesterday, to visit my friend Carmen to celebrate her birthday and meeting several of her friends.

Not many women here at Yongsan Base drive “off-post” by themselves and honestly I do understand them…. However, the different culture and driving in central Seoul is also a part of my adventure being here.

With a borrowed, Korean, GPS (for ours has apparently too few digests making it impossible me to find a specific destination, in the jungle of many roads) I went off to Carmen! 

Where to start? Besides that it’s very, very crowded on the roads, the amount of roads is massive roads and the driving behavior, somewhat different from what I've been used off, after almost 30 years living in Sweden. The switching from one lane to another is constantly, and just as the overtaking done from; both left and right!

Taxi drivers, definitely take the price, red light here, I believe is just an advice, for I never, ever, have seen so many cars ignoring red light!

Dangerous? Absolutely, but it keeps you allert!

These professional drivers, are simultaneously the ones honking rapidly and a lot as soon as someone else is cutting a corner or violation some rules.

But there is an advantage to the overloaded roads here in Seoul, and that is that the average speed is very slow, probably around 40 kilometers per hours. So the accidents that do occur (although not as many as one might expect) are mainly just having the result of material damage and yes…. Even longer cues.

And me? Well, I have the advantage of saving money for I’m not having any fines for over speeding, which I'm glad for, because I now can affort the gasoline, while standing in oh so many cues!

But inpite of cues, a Korean GPS, I did reach my destination on time and had a wonderful afternoon, with good food, water (for I was driving :), something which is now a hot debate in Korea.....) lots of laughter and meeting with again many great, fun and interesting women!

Now off to play a different type of quiz... (here three out of 29 questions!)

The first color of.............was green.

Camels can go a long time without water but a ......can go longer.

Sneezes hav been clocked at......mph.

Summer in Korea???


Our hostess, quiz leader and birthday girl Carmen with the WINNER!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Back to “normal” life ....

Spending my second week, after returning from Sweden, on Yongsan Base, in the heart of Seoul, and had what we in Swedish call “full rulle”.

We started up with a quite relaxing weekend, were Anders made dinner and I could check my mail.

The weather was beautiful so we enjoyed twice several hours at the swimming pool (too hot to play golf….).

Tack, Daniel och Krister, riktigt kul att göra!

I started the week off with training, a goodbye luncheon for my leaving friend Fran,

followed up with a welcome dinner with Jeayeon Lee at my favorite restaurant. (Even managed some shoe shopping that evening ;)) And that was just Monday!

The rest of the past week was filled with training, a Yongsan Community Update Brief meeting,some golf (9-holes in drizzling weather), a tour to Osan (in order to to find the Airbase), a goodbye luncheon for the Finnish Ambassador to Korea, HE Pekka Wuoristo and his wife Ritva at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, flower shopping at Namdaemun, and a goodbye evening for the Minister and Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy, Ulf and Julia Sörmark, held at the Ambassador of Sweden, HE Lars Danielsson’s residence.


During the meeting we received information from: ACAP; DPW; UPH; DHL; FMWR; ACS; AFAB and even more.... Isn't military life exciting? What it all means?
"I don't know, John!"

What I did understand was that the reprecentative of transport, Mrs. Ki, Kye Hwa was "Hero of the Month"!

MANY DIGNITIES AND THEN...... Anders and I :)

HE Pekka Wuoristo receiving a plaque showing his intervue in The Korea Times, handed to him by Mr. Park Moo-jong, President - Publisher of The Korea Times.

 Me, Ritva Wuoristo, Mrs Kim In-Sook going for desert!

Introducing MG Urs Gerber, Swiss Member to the NNSC, to Sung Nam Golf Club.

Some training was definately required after 9 weeks golf break....
(Didn't really help though)

Surching for US Airbase in Osan...

Anja should ask for the way, nobody speaks English, hand and feet talk with eight Korean people resulted in....

a lot of laughter and no result!

HE Lars Danielsson thanking Julia and Ulf Sörmark for their many years of dedication to strengthen relationshipos between Sweden and South Korea.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

4th of July 2012, the 236th Independence Anniversary of the United States.

The morning was kicked off with putting some American flags in the garden, and then seeing Anders and some of the Swedish delegates off, for the 5 kilometer FUN RUN (???). Not long after wards  (27 minutes) I could get a picture of him coming in again!

 Allan, Anders and Per represented this FUN RUN the Swedish NNSC!

Later that morning we went to the flower market at Namdaemun to buy yellow roses and a blue vase for my friend Youree, who became an American citizen on this particular day. This fact was celebrated with a BBQ at their home.

But before the BBQ we went to a 4th of July reception hosted by RADM McQuilkin and his wife Selina, in roaring 20's outfits  J.

Some found really great outfits in their wardrobe or....

It was nice to see some familiar faces of people that haven’t left the peninsula yet.

After the BBQ and beautiful fireworks it was time to go home for a drink together and some reflection.

Not so roaring 20s outfit but a nice moment of reflection of a wonderful day.

(Retrieved bits and pieces blog April & May)

Anders' welcome speech for all the visitors attanding the Spring reception at the DMZ .

 Thought of writing about the Spring Reception, which the NNSC Swedish delegation arranged and hosted Friday the 11th of May (my birthday) up in the DMZ and Buddha's Birthday celebration with the so famous lantern parade in Insadong. First buss with guests waiting for all the others to follow... Welcome speech after all the guests arrived. One of many groups wondering with their special lanterns through the streets of Insadong. In Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunis... mer »

Some of the guests intaracting and enjoying spring weather and good food!

Unbelievable that we already had the second Spring Tour during our stay in Korea! United Nations Command and Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission were invited by Senior Member MG Lee, and their spouses for the annual three day trip. This teambuilding trip has been done every year since 1964. We were over 30 people and in for a real treat with many interesting program points with the end goal Busan and Tongyeoung in the South of the Peninsula. We started up with visiting KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) studio in Suwon, about 1,5 hour’s drive from Seoul and Samsung Electronics.

Here at the American base in Korea it is for many families, PCS time, a well know agronomic, which stand for: Permanent Change of Station. In a nutshell it means families are moving to new destinations. As I’ve mentioned before, I have during our 13 month in Korea, got to know very many wonderful spouses. Several of them became my friends and one of them, Anne Macdonald a very special one. This is of cause wonderful, but now it’s hard for Anne and most of my other friends are moving to far away places. I was amazed how quickly it went to be taken in and supported by the American Spouses... mer »

After living for a couple of month here on Yongsan Base, Anja was invited to join the American Forces’ Spouses’ Club, and asked to become the editor of the organizations monthly magazine; The Chosun Chatter. She accepted and since then almost worked full time to get on top of things. To that, she volunteered for the Chosun Gift Shop, Holiday Tour of Homes and probably some other things. The volunteer work is about strengthening and giving back to the community; US and Korea. The Americans call it “THE FORCE BEHIND THE FORCE”. With surprise (for me) Anja was nominated for volunte... mer »

Friends of us Colonel William Hubert (Bill) and his wonderful fiancée Pamela Anthony (Pam) were married by Very Reverend Richard Donohoe at the Memorial Chapel last night. On their way to say "yes I do" and become Mr. & Mrs. Hubert The evening before we participated in the rehearsal dinner, starting up in the Chapel to go through the steps of the wedding ceremony, lectors , the young cantor reading and singing and we ended up with the actual dinner at Hartle House. During the dinner my friend Anne and I sang the song we had made for Pam’s Bridal shower, accompanied of our husbands... mer »

*Arbor Day* The Swedish Delegation up in the DMZ celebrated, together with many invited guests, Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated from Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States, in 1872. The first Arbor Day was held on April 10, 1872, and an estimated 1 million trees were planted that day. Up in Panmunjom, the Swedish Delegation, have celebrating this day, for many decades. Private persons, companies or organizations have donated a large variety of trees, to be planted i... mer »

Last week the multi-million capitol of South Korea was filled with dignities, their delegations and security. Security was, as to be expected, on top level and due to the even more crowded roads then normally, car owners were advised to take public transportation. The summit avoided North Korea in their statement causing debate in the Korean papers if this was the best thing to do. Anders was busy briefing several prime ministers and dignities at the DMZ up in Panmunjom. Anders with HE Helle Thorning-Schmidt the first female Danish Prime Minister. And Last Sunday we ha... mer »