By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Vice Chairman Song Nara, Reporter Paul Kim
Suppose Seoul were completely devoid of any presence of the United States Forces. Suppose Korea and the U.S. had decided to completely evacuate all the U.S. establishments out of Seoul.
What would that make Chairman Kim Jong Un want to do? He might want to strike South Korea as his grandpa did back in 1950 and suffered total destruction during the Korean War that ensued until the Armistice in 1953.
Here is a Joongang Ilbo account on the incident. On Jan. 12, 1950, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson under President Harry Truman announced the so-called Acheson Line. In the announcement he made in a speech entitled “Crisis in Asia” at the National Press Club Korea was excluded from the line stretching from the Aleutian Islands to the Philippines in the Pacific. Japan and Okinawa were included in the U.S. defense line aimed at deterring Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong from communization of East Asia, but Korea was not.
Upon hearing Acheson’s speech, the then President Syngman Rhee ordered Ambassador Chang Myon in Washington to meet with Acheson. He was not available, so he met with Assistant Secretary William Butterworth, and demanded South Korea be included in the line. President Rhee also sent a personal letter to his counterpart to make the same request.
But Butterworth reassured them by underscoring the strategic importance of South Korea in Northeast Asia on America’s part. As proof, Washington signed a treaty with Seoul on mutual defense and aid on Jan. 26, 1950. The treaty was more advanced than the Acheson Line in terms of a pledge to protect South Korea from outside attacks. On Feb. 10, the U.S. Congress also passed a bill to aid South Korea. In reaction, all South Koreans cheered. But no one knew that a war would break out in just four months.
Anyhow, the Korean War ended with enormous human and material losses on both sides. One sheer reminder of the Acheson Line and the resultant Korean War is: U.S. military presence in Seoul is a strong guarantee of security of the Republic of Korea, which is also a requirement for continued prosperity of the Republic of Korea and also the United States of America.
Now, the Dragon Hill Lodge on the South Post of the U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan plays a very, very important role for the sake of security and safety of the Republic of Korea.
If Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea feels tempted to strike Seoul, he surely would if Seoul were completely devoid of any U.S. military establishment. The Dragon Hill Lodge on the South Post is a sheer reminder of the U.S. military presence in South Korea.
The administration in Korea comes, and goes after a five-year term. Some are of the rightists, others are of the progressives.
However, whoever comes in, in the opinion of many Koreans, especially the established generation who know the Korean War, say that Seoul must NOT be completely ‘devoid’ of any U.S. military presence. Koreans, north or south, cannot afford another war from miscalculation. And the U.S. military presence in Seoul is considered a sheer requirement.
Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul is a clear reminder telling Chairman Kim, “The United States is still in Seoul and don’t make another mistake like the one your grandpa, General Kim Il-Sung, made, and consequently brought total destruction to himself and his country in 1950 and in the ensuing three years.”
Thanking Dragon Hill for its contribution to the peace-keeping role in Korea, and wishing the property to continue to stay for the sake of security of Korea, The Korea Post media recently had an exclusive interview with General Manager Brian Campbell of Dragon Hill Lodge. Details of the interview follow:
Question: What are the unique aspects of your property compared with other such establishments in Korea and other parts of the world? How many rooms do you have altogether?
Answer: The Dragon Hill Lodge is one of four Department of the Army, operated Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRCs) Resorts. The other three AFRC Resorts are the Hale Koa Hotel (Waikiki Beach, Hawaii) opened in 1975 with 817 rooms; Shades of Green (Orlando, Florida) opened in 1994 with 583 rooms, and Edelweiss Lodge and Resort (Garmish, Germany) constructed in 2004 with 258 rooms/cabins. The four AFRC Resorts are affordable United States (US) Joint Service facilities located at premier vacation destinations throughout the world and where US Service Members serve. The AFRCs serve as force multipliers by supporting military readiness, retention and well-being objectives, by providing high-quality and affordable vacation opportunities for members of the US Total Defense Force. AFRC resorts uphold the US Department of Defense’s philosophy that Service Members are entitled to the same quality of life they are pledged to defend.
What makes DHL unique and magical is the true, genuine American experience that guests receive from the moment they enter our resort. The lobby, guestrooms, food and beverage outlets, health club, and other services all make you feel as if you were back in the United States of America during your stay.
DHL has 394 rooms that are set up and fully outfitted with American fixtures. We have a variety of room configuration consisting of standard Single King or Double Queen Rooms, Pet-Friendly Rooms, 2-Room Family Suites, and Distinguished Visitor and Penthouse Suites all offering their own view of Metropolitan Seoul to include N Seoul Tower.
Our food and beverage team has developed menu items (and all the ingredients that go in them) that are truly American fare. In particular, all our beef, poultry, and pork are directly from the US. We take these key American ingredients and combine them with fresh local produce to prepare our delicious, signature American dishes.
Another strong point of our property is our location. We are within walking distance to the Samgakji, Itaewon, Noksapyeong, and Icheon Subway Stations. We are also very close to several bus lines, making this a very convenient hotel for our guests many who are exploring Seoul for the first time!
Q: Please introduce the major facilities of the Dragon Hill, including the small stores.
A: DHL sits on 11 acres as part of US Army Garrison-Yongsan South Post and opened its doors 29 years ago and has expanded the number of rooms and added a health club throughout the years. The Annex, which is the home of our POiNT Health Club, was added in 1994. The final expansion was in 2000 when the Soldier’s Tower was added.
Within our Food and Beverage Department is the warm and inviting Greenstreet. This all-day dining restaurant serves full-fledged US-style fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our restaurant is well-known for its beautiful, wide view of our sunken gardens and our ever-popular all-you-can-eat steak buffet dinner!
Sables is our intimate, white tablecloth steak house serving up market-priced 5lb lobsters and on-the-bone 40oz Ribeye Tomahawk Steaks. We also have a full range of hand-cut steaks to choose from, as well as classic American steakhouse side dishes such as asparagus with hollandaise sauce.
Both restaurants boast extensive, yet carefully curated wine menus, with many of the wines coming straight from California Napa Valley vineyards.
Our popular deli and bakery serves fresh pastries, cookies, pies, donuts, cakes and other goodies that we bake fresh daily. Especially popular are our custom, made-to-order sandwiches loaded with American deli meats and fresh vegetables.
Another area we have is our pub Bentley’s, which is a lounge for guests to relax in the evening and also a regular hangout for the local community. In true American style, the bar has a daily Happy Hour as well as daily food specials featuring favorites like BBQ ribs, smashburgers, and more.
Upstairs on the Mezzanine level are our special events and banquet rooms – which all have fantastic views of our sunken gardens. We have our main Naija Ballroom and also our smaller Mezzanine Bridge function area. Altogether, the floor can accommodate up to 500 people. For smaller events, the Naija Ballroom can be divided into four separate function rooms and we also have breakout meeting rooms such as our Pagoda and Fountain view rooms.
One of our most stunning event spaces is actually the sunken garden area behind the hotel. The beautiful garden gently slopes up and features a tranquil waterfall, traditional Korean pagoda, and relaxed outdoor seating. Most of our outdoor weddings are held here, as it is a very intimate, quiet and relaxing area for our service members and guests. Weddings at DHL are a wonderful experience for all involved. If you have a chance to come see a wedding here, you’ll notice that no one is rushing out the door like at most Korean wedding guests are too busy taking in the sights and enjoying our specially prepared banquet meals.
Events and weddings here are often attended by Korean guests as well. In these situations, we work out base access for non-servicemembers through our banquets and catering team.
We also have a comprehensive market square area that features several businesses such as the dress concession, optical concession, tailor shop, alteration shop, Community Bank, sports massage, and a beauty shop called Clippers. A lot of these businesses have been here since year one of the DHL!
Our fitness center The POiNT is free for guests and available as a monthly membership to those who are eligible. It has a 25 meter pool, a whole array of cardio and weight machines for light fitness, free weight room, and also a group exercise room.
As a proud AFRC Resort, the DHL family works hard to uphold the highest of standards, and continues to be popular with service members and guests. In fact, we were recently named ‘Best Military Resort’ by US Stars and Stripes Pacific Newspaper for the second year in a row!
Q: Do you have a high season and low season like commercial hotels in Seoul outside the base?
A: Yes. We do have a low season, and it tends to be when it’s cold during January and February when our occupancy goes down. Although it changes year-by-year, our summers are generally very busy because this is the period when a lot of the service members will change in and out of Korea.
Q: Anything else you wish to say to our readers?
A: DHL has a long, proud history, and we have built up quite a service culture and reputation amongst our staff and guests. Unlike any other hotel in Korea, the majority of our Korean employees have been working here since day one! We have a little over 400 employees. They have grown up and become a family here. In fact, there are also children of staff members (the second generations!) that are now older and working alongside their parents. So when you talk about DHL culture, I’d definitely say we are a family, and this care and love for one another can be seen in how we take care of our hotel!
Q: Briefly introduce yourself. When did you come to Seoul and take over the job of General Manager at the Dragon Hill Lodge?
A: I arrived as the General Manager, DHL in July, 2016 after retiring from the US Air Force in 2011 with 27 years of active duty service and four years on the Offices of the Secretary of Defense staff as a Policy Analyst.
I served three assignments in Korea: 1986-1987 at Kunsan Air Base; 1987-1988 and again in 1998-2000 as the Commander of the 51st Services Squadron at Osan Air Base. I also served in Europe, the US, and in Afghanistan.
DHL is an extension of “home” for our Service members, their families and other authorized guest. Our guests find DHL to be very comfortable when staying here, which makes me know that I am doing my job right and my team is doing their job well. Guests come and say that this place looks, feels, and smells as if they were still in the US. When I hear that, I can see that we are doing something right because that is what we are here to provide for our Service Members who have spent a long time away from home.
Being the General Manager at the DHL was a job I dreamed of ever since I left Korea in 2000. I’m so very grateful that this dream became a reality.
My wife is Korean and was born and raised in Gunsan. After I retired in 2011, my wife expressed interest in us moving back to her home country. After I worked at the Pentagon for almost five years, this job became available. And now my wife is very happy to be back home!
Major features of Dragon Hill Lodge:
Sables Steak & Seafood: Named for its picturesque Sables Garden with peaceful waterfall views, Sables is a discerning choice for top-quality steaks and seafood. The Sables wine menu includes our sommelier-curated selections that pair nicely with whatever meal you choose. Sables offers ideal spaces for intimate dining and private meetings as well. The staffs are attentive without being intrusive, which is a mark of the quality service that defines your experience at Sables. Whether you go for the surf, turf or both, you’ll enjoy a signature, memorable meal at Sables.
Greenstreet: You’ll have a hard time choosing just one favorite at Greenstreet, which is probably why the buffets there are so popular. American classics, international staples and fresh-baked goods are well executed and taste just like home. Even the pickiest eaters in your family will find something to savor and enjoy among the dozens of buffet items served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The sheer scale of the buffets allows for hundreds of guests.
Sunday Brunch: Voted the Best in the Pacific, try out the Gourmet California rolls, Hand-Carved Sirloin Steak, Fresh Seafood on ice, and an array of sweet desserts while overlooking the Oasis Garden at the Sunday Brunch. Kids 4 and under eat free and a nominal price applies for children between 5 and 11. Special discounts for E5 & below!
Bentley’s: We all love sports, big screens, tasty brews and pub snacks. Bentley’s Pub is like a local haunt where you’ll want to stop to enjoy a pint or two and catch up with friends, or catch the big game on some wide screens. Rich, old-English paneling brings this space a classic and cozy atmosphere, and the house-brewed IPA is always on tap. A collection of American and international wines are curated for everyone to enjoy.
Bakery / Deli: This eatery is a convenient stop, with dependable and portable staples for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day, the bakers prepare hundreds of scratch-made treats and pastries, right here on site. You’ll also find hoagies, sammies and a whole slew of hot and cold freshly prepared items. If you’ve got a case of jetlag or need a caffeine boost, you’ll want to stop at The Deli for a latte, cappuccino, espresso or freshly ground brewed Starbucks coffee or Tazo tea.
Sun Dae’s: Sometimes, you can really go for an ice cream. When that hankering hits you, you’ll want to head to Sun Dae’s. Conveniently located near our kids’ playground, Sun Dae’s is an ideal spot to take a break and enjoy a cool treat with your family.
Carnevale: Come and enjoy the fun and relaxing Carnevale Game Room, where new games come in throughout the year 24 hours 7 days a week. The room is located on the 1st floor just past Bentley’s Pub, and assorted food and beverages are available here 24 hours. Game responsibility and have a great time at Carnevale!
Weddings: Wedding event planners are at your service to make it all easy and enjoyable. The Dragon Hill Lodge can help you envision and execute wedding ceremonies and receptions that include just what you’re after. The outdoor gardens are popular choices for Seoul wedding ceremonies, and the guests will enjoy coming back inside to celebrate with custom details, delicious dining and tasteful décor.
Mezzanine Bridge: Flexible and functional, the event venues at Dragon Hill Lodge can cater to a range of groups and occasions. Whether you’re planning a small gathering or big banquet, you’ll work with a personal conference coordinator who can help you customize all the details. Our adaptable meeting spaces allow for multiple configurations, indoors and out, offering you a host of possibilities.