Adventures in Korean climate and cuisine
Vail CO, Colorado
From Japan, the 7th Division sent a C-130 for Frank and he was delivered to Seoul, Korea. From the air, Frank saw farms below him, stretching as far as the eye could see all the way to the demilitarized zone.
He saw rice paddies and fields of grains and houses with straw roofs that were odd. One side of the roof was white while the other side was red. Strange, Frank decided.
Later he found out that the red he saw were drying peppers, lined up on the south side of the roof. The white was straw.
Frank found himself in Korea for the next 13 months. For the first half of his stay, he was the training officer for special troops in non-combat units. After that he was assigned to the 7th Division Headquarters where he was on the general’s staff, an assistant G3 in nuclear operations. In this position, Frank spent a lot of time on the road.
He saw a lot of Korea and decided there wasn’t a whole lot he liked about the place. In the summertime, it was sub-tropic and the humidity was killer. In the wintertime, it was sub-arctic, with the temperatures hovering around 25 below for days on end.
One place that did impress him was in Seoul where he visited Korea’s most ancient palace, the 3,000-year-old Duk Soo Palace. He was given a tour of the palace by a Korean army officer.
Thankfully, Frank was able to eat normal American food while on duty in Korea. Kim chi was the main staple of Koreans. A salad of sorts, with a giant mixture of vegetables and other additives.
There was winter kim chi and summer kim chi. Winter kim chi was usually fermented and included vegetables, lots of those red peppers Frank had seen drying on roofs, ginger root, fish, and lots and lots of garlic. Summer kim chi was not fermented and contained radishes, cucumbers, shrimp, red peppers, and lots of garlic.
The Korean Army had giant concrete vats where they made the kim chi, letting it sit and ferment for many days, adding things to it from day to day. Most private homes had their own vat on a smaller scale to make their kim chi. When a lot of garlic is consumed, an odor resonates from the person and American personnel thought most Koreans smelled of garlic and worse.
Finally, it was time for Frank to go home and he went to Kimpo, which was a big air base in South Korea. He flew home, which again took many, many hours. Imogene was there to meet him in Denver and was anxious to get home, but first Frank had several messages to deliver to family of men he left behind in Korea. This steamed Imogene a bit but Frank was not going to let down his fellow soldiers.
Finally, Frank felt grounded, back in Colorado, breathing cool dry air.
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