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Will Roh’s Own Line Be Born in the Army as a Messenger of the Will to Reform?

Will Roh’s Own Line Be Born in the Army as a Messenger of the Will to Reform?

Posted May. 16, 2004 22:00,   


Attention is being paid as to whether President Roh will create his own line of people in the army to practice his will to reform via personnel changes soon to be carried out as corruptions in the army have been one after the other.

There is the prospect that those who have the will to reorganize the army and reform its judiciary system will be taken into confidence regardless of their class or position.

Last year, Roh focused on “stability” in his first cabinet organization and personnel changes at the general level.

The selection of Defense Minister Cho Young-gil who graduated from Sung-in High School but not from the Military Academy (Kanjong 172th) and the Deputy Defense Minister Yu-Bo-seon (the Military Academy 24th) can be used as examples.

In the first personnel changes at the general level, Roh appointed people who are from the Jeonla province to three positions among four main offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while he reduced from two generals to one (Shin Il-soon) from the Jeonla province (among eight total generals). In addition, he raised the class of the Defense Security Commander from a major general to a lieutenant general while exchanging the position from someone from the Jeonla province to someone from outside the Jeonla province.

Such personnel changes were somewhat unexpected considering precedents in which a change of regime meant a purge of past lines in the army. President Roh is known to be advised by the former National Defense Adviser Kim Hee-sang who was the Chief of General Staff on army personnel at that time and minister Cho, who once was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Kim has a career participating in the improvements of military organization between 1988 and 1990 (known as the “818 plan”). The 818 plan proposed a balanced development among the army, the navy and the air force, along with a plan of appointing Defense secretary from non-officials.

Such an army personnel change by Roh is greatly different from the one of the former president Kim Dae-jung who drew a picture of the army personnel and reform by allowing about ten reserve generals to enter his party in 1997 when he was a presidential candidate.

In relation to this, some believe that Roh cannot deliver his will to reform the army itself through consequent personnel changes. An official in the National Defense said, “There will be not many who understand exactly and in a concrete way his direction and his will to reform the army not only among generals but also among officers.”

Because of this, few hesitate to believe that Roh is quite likely to push for a personnel change that reflects his will as he desperately feels the necessity for army reform at this time.

There is even a prediction that he will make a personnel change of a military policeman, the Defense Security Command, and army prosecution for the purpose of repositioning the status of the judiciary organization in the army as well as at the general level.

It is also expected that Roh will appoint those who have the will to reorganize the army because both the former National Defense adviser Kim Hee-sang and the current National Defense adviser Yun Kwang-ung participated in the 818 plan.

However, there are some who view that “because soldiers are not netizens, a ‘reform line’ will not be formed although they share a reform philosophy in the army.”

Ho-Won Choi bestiger@donga.com