Early in 1996, the ladies of the OWC
started work on their dream, a gift shop here in Korea, to bring
local Korean handicrafts and gift items from other places in the
Orient to the American community stationed in Korea. The drive
was spearheaded by Mrs. L.W. Schlanser, wife of the Chief of Staff,
Eighth US Army. The ladies researched their project as to
transportation, customs, location and official regulations.
1966, Mrs. James Simmerman, President of the OWC, submitted a formal
application to General Schlanser who approved the project in
principle. Official recommendations were to start a
"Charity Bazaar" for six months from July until Christmas
on a trial basis. some Okinawan glassware and $500 served as
the initial investment. Handicrafts from the Paraplegic
Village and the Vocational school for Girls, Young Chin, were added
to serve a dual purpose to introduce Korean handicrafts to the
American shoppers and to help these institutions with the extra
project was an instant success. On Saturday, September 16,
1967, the Chosun Gift Shop held its grand opening in building 3599,
a Quonset hut across from the high school. In addition to
operating the shop in Seoul and its branch in Taegu, the ladies
loaded their merchandise into trucks and periodically visited remote
sites to enable the soldiers stationed there to do their shopping.
in the beginning, the Chosun Gift Shop operates with the approval of
the command. The Board of Directors must meet the guidelines
of the Gift Shop, Army Regulations and polices pertaining to private
organizations. The shop employees three Korean men, two of
whom have been with the ship from its humble beginnings. The
Chosun pays its own way including utilities, all transportation of
merchandise from other countries and the delivery of goods from
ports in Korea.
10, 1997, the Chosun Gift Shop burned with tremendous loss of
inventory. With thanks to many benefactors and innumerable
volunteer hours, the Chosun Gift Shop reopened in a temporary
location several weeks later. During this initial reopening a
salvage operation and inventory was conducted. The Chosun was
again relocated to another temporary location and finally opened its
doors to a newly built permanent location on May 26, 1998. The
store was rebuilt with donations and its own money. The
building was then given as a gift to the Army. The new store
sits at the site of the burned store.
Gift Shop is entirely operated by volunteers who are members of the
Chosun Gift Shop Association. Currently, approximately 80
volunteers assist with sales. The operation is conducted by a
board of nineteen members who select and stock items from Japan,
China, Thailand and the Philippines to be carried in nine
departments. We no longer stock Korean made items.
profits from the shop are returned to the Seoul American Officers' ,
Civilians' and Spouses' Club for distribution to American and
Korean Projects throughout the country.
Gift Shop is open from 1000 to 1500 hours every Wednesday and
Saturday in building 4223 on Yongsan's South Post.