During the month of August, we are exploring the wide world of places military families are stationed. So far we’ve learned about O’ahu, San Diego, Seattle and now, Air Force spouse Desiree describes what it’s like to live in Korea and shares some of her favorite things. Enjoy! ~Rebecca
“Are you going to live in a hut outside the base?”
“You are a bad father and husband allowing your family to come to South Korea with you.”
“North Korea is going to make South Korea a sheet of glass, and you will be responsible for the killing of your family.”
These are just a few of the statements my husband heard when people found out that my kids, dog, and I were going to accompany my husband for his year-long tour in Osan, South Korea. I am not going to lie, these things were scary to hear, but I knew they were 100% wrong. Like all good military spouses, the moment orders show up in our spouse’s inbox off, we go to Facebook and research everything there is to know about our future home. I learned that everything people assume about the 11th largest economy was completely wrong.
Non-Command Sponsored in Korea
Going to South Korea non-command sponsored (where the military does NOT pay for dependents to go) was one of the best things we ever did for our family. Not only was Osan a thriving and fully operational air base with wonderful families (yep families are stationed there, 100s of them!), but the experiences were amazing. We were able to do things like catch a Space-A flight to Yakota to spend my husband’s midtour, go to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and experience all the things Korea had to offer including Korean BBQ, fantastic skin care products, and honey flavored everything.
Learning the Culture
South Korea is also among the world’s most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries as every single child has access to broadband internet. We were determined to immerse our kids in the culture and learn, so we threw them head-first into an all Korean daycare program. My now four-year-old now speaks and understands Korean (which is now my blessing/burden to maintain for life), and my toddler understands Korean and speaks it on his level. What an amazing gift I was able to give my kids! They are now more worldly and more mentally advanced all because we didn’t listen to the ignorance of others. Oh, and my daughter got to do a bunch of modeling, so that was cool.
It Wasn’t All Amazing
It wasn’t all face-masks and soju; there were some scary parts too. We did live south of one of the most unpredictable countries in the world, but we were prepared. The base makes sure all dependents (even those non-command sponsored) are prepared for a NEO evacuation. NEO, or non-combatant evacuation operation, exists to ensure a safe and quick evacuation for everyone (including pets) if there was a concern by command or the State Department. So I had a giant binder, a 72-hour bag for all of us, and gas masks. We did bi-annual exercises to make sure our NEO wardens and dependents knew what to do and where to go in case of an evacuation.
My other hiccup was with running my social media agency. I had to work quite early or very late taking Skype meetings, recording Podcasts, and just trying to handle things on USA time. But it taught me I could do anything I put my mind to, and if it is essential, I will find a way to make it work.
Don’t Discount a Trip to Korea
If your active duty spouse has orders to Korea, or if you are looking for a change of scenery and want to move, go to Korea! It truly is amazing. I made some of the best friends I could ever have hoped for, developed an unnatural addiction to Korean face masks, and had countless adventures at spas, festivals, and cities while living in Korea.
Desiree Martinez is an entrepreneur, domestic wannabe, and Harry Potter junkie known for her social media content plans and always saying ‘yes’ to new adventures. She has worked with hundreds of businesses on their social media and content marketing plan since 2009, and has recently launched her YouTube channel focused on helping ‘boring’ businesses use social media to promote their message get seen in a cluttered newsfeed. She is currently stationed in Osan, South Korea. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.