Lecture Video: Remembering Yongsan Garrison: An Urban Memory Archive Project

In 2017, United States Forces Korea (USFK) officially began the process of returning Yongsan Garrison to the Korean government. According to the current master plan, the Base is to be turned into one of the largest urban parks in Asia. In order to make room for trees and meadows, about 90% of the buildings on the Base will be removed. And the remaining buildings will be renovated into museums and recreational facilities. Official records will help military historians write about YSG’s role in bringing peace to the region. But that’s only half of the story. For US servicemen and their families who served in Korea, YSG provided homes to families, schools for children, and recreational venues for friends and guests.

The social history of the Garrison’s occupants is on the verge of being lost forever. Before all the families and friends move out of YSG completely, we need to capture their lives and experiences on the Base. We need to record the stories and memories at the locations where they took place. These can be archived digitally for future generations. This digital database is the foundation for the Yongsan Legacy project: a “virtual monument” of Yongsan Garrison. Yongsan Legacy is an online platform. It will be also a cultural monument; the culture of all those who served in Yongsan Garrison will be appreciated by generations to come. Narratives of YSG will be captured and shared freely from the perspectives of the people who lived on the Base. Largely hidden from public view, its value is yet to be fully understood and explored by local citizens and the rest of Korea. That is what the Yongsan Legacy project wants to discover and share.

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