Go to contents

Two brave Marines

Posted November. 25, 2010 11:45,   


Many young people tend to seek easy and comfortable things but not those who join the intense competition to get into the Marine Corps. Numerous youngsters try seven or eight times to become a Marine and get the “red name label.” As special troops for offshore landing, the Marines are known for conducting strict drills and rules and strong camaraderie. This is why former Marines possess the image of “strong men.” The Marines also highly value applicants’ commitment to join and give bonus points if those who fail reapply.

Sgt. Seo Jeong-woo and Pvt. Moon Gwang-uk were the two soldiers killed in North Korea’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island. Seo joined the Marines under a competitive ratio of 2.12 to one and Moon’s was two to one. Seo’s page on Cyworld, the South Korean social networking site equivalent of Facebook, has a posting expressing his wish to join the Marines before he was accepted. He wrote in December 2008, “Last night, I dreamed of getting accepted and confirming the date of entry. I hope they pick me.” Seo also posted a photo of his body in good shape. While on his way for a long-awaited leave, Seo, who had four months left before discharge, saw his unit attacked and returned voluntarily. This shows the spirit that the Marines are known for.

The baby-faced Moon was killed just four months after joining the Marines. He wrote a message on his friend’s Cyworld page that his friend should not join the military but said at the same time, “This never means I’m ashamed of it. I’m proud and proud again. After joining the military, I couldn’t rest (omitted) but I can overcome everything by thinking that I’m safeguarding my country.” His post shows his pride as a Marine and worry for his friend.

In 2006, the National Youth Policy Institute asked Korean, Chinese and Japanese youths whether they would participate in a war. Disappointingly, the survey found that 41.1 percent of Japanese said they would, 14.4 percent of Chinese, and just 10.2 percent of South Koreans. The younger generation in South Korea, however, is seeing a rise in a sense of national duty in the wake of the Cheonan sinking and the attack on Yeonpyeong Island. As long as the country has brave youths like Seo and Moon, national security will remain strong. Seo and Moon, once a Marine, always a Marine.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)