Korean hospital provides care, help to Afghans

By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, June 28, 2007 - A South Korean military hospital staff on Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, is doing its part to help fight terrorism in that country.

Korean army Lt. Col. Seoung-ki Kim, commander of the 924th Medical Support Group, said his troops are very proud of the contribution they are making. Kim spoke to Pentagon reporters via teleconference today.

The hospital staff has passed a milestone, treating 240,000 Afghans since the hospital stood up in February 2002. The medics - along with engineers of the 100th Engineer Group - work closely with coalition partners in and around Bagram.

Since the Korean operations started in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, more than 2,000 Korean troops have deployed to Afghanistan, Kim said.

"It is the 11th rotation for the hospital and ninth for the engineers," he said. "The medical outpatient clinic provides support for the people of Afghanistan and the coalition forces on the base."

The Korean medics also conduct public health education and humanitarian relief activities for the local people.

The hospital sees an average of 4,000 patients a month, Kim said.

"Most of the patients come from Parwan province and Kabul," the colonel said. "Some patients come from as far away as Kandahar - 200 miles - and even from areas near the border with Pakistan."

The hospital is a Level 1 facility, and if serious wounds arrive - casualties from mine explosions or gunshots - the Korean doctors provide first aid and evacuate the patients to the U.S. hospital on the base.

The Korean soldiers are exposing coalition allies to a bit of their culture. Kim said the Korean soldiers sponsor a Taekwondo class twice a week at the clamshell on base. "It's getting very popular on the base," Kim said. In addition, the Korean cooks share Korean cuisine with their fellow servicemembers.

Kim said he expects the level of care to continue. He said the Korean servicemembers provide "whole-hearted medical support with whole-heartedness and kindness of Koreans for Afghan people. We have received a warm welcome and a good response from the Afghan people. We are determined to give more to the people. We will continue making contributions for the establishment of peace in this land."