Go to contents

Hoping to See Real Military

Posted February. 29, 2008 03:13,   


In a speech at the 46th commissioning ceremony of the Reserve Officers Training Corps., President Lee Myung-bak said, “I will cooperate with the people to encourage our society to appreciate and respect military personnel. The government will do a work to appreciate those who have dedicated themselves to the nation and people.” He also pledged, “I’ll make Korean people feel honored for being in the military service and wearing military uniforms.” I can’t agree more with the president’s will to elevate the status of Korea’s armed force sand boost military morale.

Even Korea’s former general-turned-presidents didn’t make such a speech. His speech seemed to inspire Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and other top officials including the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Air Force Chief of the General Staff, the Army Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations, who attended the ceremony. More than 4,000 ROTC officers with second lieutenant badges on their chests, proving they have finished their two-year-long tough military training session, must have felt overwhelmed with pride as they shook hands with the president.

The military is a group which lives on morale, honor and pride. Neither orders from commanders nor morale education can successfully inspire their loyalty of military personnel for the nation and people. They would be ready to cast away their own lives only when the nation and people understand their dedication and appreciate their sacrifice. The president even hinted that he would elevate the treatment for military personnel who has made sacrifice comparable to the level of those contributing to the nation.

In the past decade, former governments’ policy of engaging North Korea has done harm to Korea’s military forces. For example, six naval officers who were killed in a skirmish provoked by North Korea in the West Sea were given unkind treatment by the government in 2002 and the former government even considered satisfying the demand of North Korea in determining the Northern Limit Line after a summit talk between two Koreas. A series of similar cases have pushed the military to raise questions over their existence. Some soldiers even forgot who their main enemy was.

Former governments had taken lukewarm attitudes toward North Korea while forgetting the fact that North Korea is an enemy as well as a partner. That has thrown the Korean people off the guard, which, in turn, has led to slack military discipline, causing a string of accidents. Cutting to the heart, Lee Sang-hee, defense minister-nominee, pointed out to the bitter reality in a confirmation hearing held at the National Assembly on Wednesday, saying, “Increasingly more people believe that not ‘strong troops’ but ‘friendly troops’ are a real democratic force.” The military should stand up again for security, peace and even for the economy.