KoreAm Journal profiles the DLI Korean program at Monterey. (Korean was at the top of my list when I enlisted for language school in 1969.)
MONTEREY, CALIF. — The next generation of Korean speakers at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLI) does not necessarily share the same ethnicity [unlike 95% of Korean language learners in the U.S.]. Hailing from all over the United States, the 300 students who graduate from the school’s Korean language program every year are united by their passion to learn. Plus, they all have a soldier’s discipline needed to endure its demanding training.
Those who are undergoing the minimum of six hours of instruction every day, five days a week for 63 weeks, are men and women of the U.S. armed forces who volunteered to extend their military duties by meeting the needs of the military’s demand for Korean speakers.
“I actually asked for Korean or Arabic because I figured that was probably the two languages that they needed people for the most, and I didn’t want to do something too easy,” said Marine Lance Corporal Tyler Joyner. [What *is* it about the Marines?]
He is just one of the soldiers [bzzt! Marines are not “soldiers”] getting more than basic training on the DLI’s sprawling facilities along California’s Central Coast, where deer still graze on the grounds [and buffalo roam …]. Here, Joyner is sitting through classes to develop the skills needed to be fluent in most Korean conversations at the street level, as well as for military operations in South Korea.
One of my unforgettable experiences at DLI about 1970 occurred at the on-base movie theater, where the national anthem was played before each movie. A military dependent and his date stayed sitting as the anthem started, whereupon the man behind them reached over and yanked the guy to his feet. After the anthem finished, someone complimented the Enforcer with a “Good work, soldier!”–whereupon the Enforcer replied, “I’m not a soldier. I’m a Marine!”