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Marines help build classroom at Thai school

Korean Marines helped establish a multi-purpose classroom at a school in Thailand as part of a international humanitarian exercise taking place in the Southeast Asian country, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

Some 50 Korean, U.S. and Thai troops engaged in the construction of the classroom at the Baan Pong Wua School in Chantaburi Province from Feb. 5-15.

On Tuesday, the troops held a ceremony marking the opening of the classroom, which some 200 Thai elementary and middle school students attend.

“We thank the troops for their support. We can now have the chance to learn Korean and experience a variety of cultural activities,” a school official said.

Some 50 Korean Marine and Navy troops are participating in the Cobra Gold exercise, which began on Feb. 7 and will end on Feb. 18.

The U.S. Pacific Command and the Thai military command have annually organized the exercise to practice multinational peace-keeping operations since 1981.

“I was initially worried about whether the troops from different cultures using different languages could cooperate for the construction. But when we actually began the work, I gained confidence that we could work together,” said Capt. Chang Cheong-su.

“Above all, we all worked under the same objective to support Thai children.”

This year, more than 10,000 troops from seven countries including Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are taking part in the exercise.

The exercise, which is taking place in various regions across the country, including Chiang Mai, Sattahip and Chantaburi, is aimed at addressing conflicts and restoring order and peace for an imaginary nation, named Arcadia.

The exercise largely consists of humanitarian civic action, as well as command post and field training exercises, all of which are aimed at helping the military participants get acquainted with measures to stabilize a conflict-stricken country.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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