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Retired Generals Protesting against Defense Minister Yoon’s Remarks

Retired Generals Protesting against Defense Minister Yoon’s Remarks

Posted September. 22, 2005 07:44,   


Controversy is mounting as retired generals express keen objection to Minister of Defense Yoon Kwang-ung’s critique of military reserves in his interview in the October issue of the Shin Dong-A magazine.

During an information session on military reform led by Minister Yoon on September 21, some 120 retired generals denounced the minister’s remarks regarding military reserves and demanded an explanation. The day’s event, convened at the minister’s invitation, was attended by Korea Veterans Association president and former Defense Minister Lee Sang-hoon, former Defense Minister Kim Seong-eun, former Army Chief of Staff Baek Seon-yeop, and a large contingency from the Korea Retired Generals & Admirals Association.

In the interview with Shin Dong-A, Defense Minister Yoon stated, “The problem is that senior retired generals aged 65 to 70 still adhere to the mentality of the old Japanese-style military—that is, the idea that the military is what moves a nation. All this time, Korea’s armed forces have retained the value system of the Japanese colonial era. For retired officers, that value system has remained largely unshaken since the Korean War. Many of our conflicts stem from complaints expressed to those in active service by such senior members of the military community.”

At the information session, Minister Yoon greeted the retired generals with deep courtesy and tried to appease them with repeated apologies, but a few of the attendants reportedly remained adamant in their censure, saying that the “minister’s apologies were inadequate.”

One retired general, in particular, voiced his displeasure in pointed terms, stating, “With the exception of an extreme minority, most of our veterans studied in the U.S. and served as advisors with the U.S. military, learning and teaching the ways of democratic armed forces.” He added, “I was deeply shocked by Minister’s Yoon’s remark that retired generals are still mired in the mentality of the old Japanese military and that they’re inciting officers in active service with their outdated ideas.”

Another veteran general brought the room to a solemn hush by enjoining the defense minister to “set aside his tendency to negate our past national defense under the pretext of a military reform geared to the ‘386’ generation, but rather fulfill an actual and substantial role to defend our country,” reported observers.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com