Korean life keeps calling married U.S. officers back

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Korean life keeps calling married U.S. officers back

While some American soldiers call Korea a tough posting, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Mary Legere and her husband, Colonel Paul Legere, are on their third tour here in 16 years.
The Legeres volunteered for another posting in the land of the morning calm because they had nothing but good memories from their previous tours. They also express a fascination with Korea’s dynamism. In all, the Legeres have spent six years in Korea.
Lieutenant Colonel Legere, 43, is commander of the U.S. Army’s 501st Military Intelligence Brigade in Korea, charged with gathering information on the peninsula. Her husband, 42, is commander of the 8th Troop Command, which oversees logistics, transport and military supplies.
When they first came, Koreans were busy preparing for the 1988 Olympics. Olympic fever spreading across the country was enough to mesmerize the couple. They left the peninsula after two years of service, but returned in 1994 after the U.S. military implemented a program making it easier for couples to serve in the same area. Last year, the couple once again signed up for service in Korea.
To bolster information exchange between the United States and Korea, Lieutenant Colonel Legere is now dealing with Korean military authorities. She is trying to establish a nerve center for processing information related to military affairs.
The lieutenant colonel said that comprehension of the Korean language and culture is the most vital element to succeeding in her mission. She admitted that although she diligently studies Korean, she can’t speak the language as well as she can understand it.
She enjoys watching Korean soap operas. When she needs some help understanding the dialogue, she doesn’t hesitate to ask for help. She says she’s surprised to have spent her 21 years of marriage in the military, but says she’s happy about it.
Although her military service ends in 2005, she plans on seeking an extension, as her husband will still be serving in the military that year.

by Lee Young-jong
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