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Author Topic: Defunct JMS Front Groups: Korean International Cultural Society (KICS)  (Read 2608 times)

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August 15, 2015, 07:39:05 PM
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Offline Peter

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I was digging through my archives this morning and came across this piece about a long dead JMS front group. It's undated, but it's from 2003ish:

Foreigners Head to Boot Camp Near DMZ (The Seoul Times)
A steady drizzle fell on the nervous looking group huddled together in the sand. Looking out of place in ill-fitting combat fatigues, they waited apprehensively for the drill sergeant standing in front of them to speak. "For the next 24 hours you are handing your lives over to me!" he yelled loudly in Korean. "Forget everything you have learned up till now, here you will start from scratch."
And so it began. This past holiday weekend 36 people from 8 different countries had the chance to experience first-hand what life is like as a Korean Marine. Participants travelled to the Marine Academy on Dae Nan Ji Island as part of a trip organized by the Korean International Cultural Society (KICS).

According to Myong Suk Kim, one of the event organizers, the objective was to give foreigners an idea of the sacrifice it takes to be Marine in Korea. "Not only that, but people from different countries and backgrounds will be forced to work together to achieve a common goal."

"In China I didn't have the chance to go into the Army" said Yuhang Wang, who studies at a Seoul university. "I'm really excited about this chance to be a soldier!"

Males and females alike were treated as if they were real Marines. Starting Friday morning the would-be soldiers were put through a gruelling set of exercises including push-ups, jumping jacks and squats, as no-nonsense instructors screamed at those going too slow.

English and Japanese translators were on hand but the language barrier made the experience even more frightening for some. "These guys look scary enough, never mind the fact I can't understand what the heck they are saying" said Chad Weiss, a Canadian teaching English in Seoul. "A lot of the time I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm terrified they are going to start beating me!"

In the afternoon out came the boats and participants did the quintessential Marine training. After carrying the rubber rafts down to the beach on their heads, 30 minutes were spent learning the finer points of getting in and out of the boats according to protocol. Then 3 boats with 12 people each paddled out to an island 1km offshore and back. Battling the wind, cold water and strong current left many close to exhaustion. "Life is filled with hardships" said Shim Chang Kim, head instructor at the academy. "The idea behind this training is to show recruits that you can't avoid difficulty in life, you must meet the challenge head-on and when you overcome it you feel on top of the world."

After supper participants gathered on a hill overlooking the sea. In a small, dimly lit amphi-theatre everyone was required to stand in front of the entire group and speak for at least 5 minutes on lessons learned throughout the day. This segment was called Courage Training. The consensus seemed to be that enduring the hardship of the training would definitely be an asset in meeting life's later challenges. Many also commented on how it made them realize that people from different backgrounds and cultures can cooperate when faced with adversity.

This being the Marines, those who were hoping for a good night's sleep ended up being disappointed. Each 6 person barracks room was required to have one person awake at all hours of the night. Straws were drawn to determine the order of rotation for each one hour watch. The consequences of being caught napping by an instructor doing a surprise check? The entire room would be required to wake up and continue sleeping out on the beach. All managed to avoid this fate, although there were some very bleary eyes come the 6:00am Saturday morning wake-up call.

The rest of the morning found the now hardened soldiers completing an 8km march around the island. Residents stopped to stare with curiosity at the foreigners jogging in unison, chanting in Korean to keep their rhythm. "Left foot, left foot, Hannah, Duul, Seh, Neh" yelled the soldiers as they plodded their way through a scenic backdrop of rice paddies and coastal views.

The program closed with a ceremony in which each person was presented with a small badge acknowledging their accomplishment. "In the army we learn only about war and fighting" said head instructor Kim. "Up on the hill Friday night everyone spoke about peace and how different people can work together to achieve goals. It makes me want to do this again in the future." And how about foreigners becoming regulars in the Korean Marine Corps? "Well...I don't know, I think it would be very tough for them" replied Kim as his stone face broke into a grin.

After the ceremony everyone who participated seemed to agree that the program was definitely an experience they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Having said that, there wasn't a soul who was not happy to be getting on the boat and back to a good night's sleep.

"This really was something" said Weiss as he painfully laboured down the boat ramp and onto solid land. "I'm not sure if I'll be able to move my legs for a week, but certainly was something."

Those interested in learning more about KICS and the events they organize can contact Julliann Kim at 016 724 5955, or visit the KICS website at
The KICS website is long gone, but there are traces of it on the Internet Archive here. The 2002-2006 archives show the site (sans photos) when it was used by JMS.

On December 10, 2003 Arirang TV's Heart to Heart interviewed Miss Lina Lim, the President of The Korean International Cultural Society. That interview provided me with my first anti-JMS scolding opportunity. - Link no longer works. Will update as I have the material saved somewhere.