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Soldiers postpone discharge wishing for a successful Olympics

Soldiers postpone discharge wishing for a successful Olympics

Posted January. 08, 2018 08:41,   

Updated January. 08, 2018 09:32


There are soldiers who postpone their discharge from military service by up to six months to join the Army’s security operations for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games slated to be held in PyeongChang next month. Meet Staff Sergeants Park Hyeok-jae and Park Hui-min of the 11th Division, and Sergeants Ga Dong-hyeon and Go Jeong-jin of the 35th division of the Army. These young soldiers said they decided to put off discharge because they wanted to do their part for the successful hosting of the event.

Both Park Hyeok-jae and Park Hui-min, 23, enlisted in the army as a soldier in 2015, and have been in service as a professional staff sergeant since last year. They were scheduled to be discharged as a squad leader on Jan. 26, 2018, and as a second squad leader on Nov. 10, 2017, respectively. But as their unit, being the nearest to stadiums for major Olympic games, is set to participate in support operations to control vehicles and passengers, the two have decided to postpone their discharge by six months and four months, respectively. The two leaders made a deliberate decision to stay on duty because such operations would require squad members to stay out of the garrison for a long period of time, and if squad leaders leave the military, members will have difficulties carrying out their duties.

Sergeants Ga Dong-hyeon and Go Jeong-jin, 22, were supposed to leave the Army on March 20 this year, but they also delayed the discharge date to March 22, after the Paralympic Games end on March 18. Under the guideline set by the military authorities, those who complete their military service in March should stay in their unit, nevertheless, both Dong-hyeon and Jeong-jin have voluntarily chosen to go to Pyeongchang. “I will fulfill my mission as a uniformed member of the Army until the Olympic Games finish,” said Dong-hyeon, expressing his hopes.

“We have seen a large number of South Korean soldiers postponing their discharge back in 2015, amid mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula prompted by the North Korean land mines maiming two soldiers,” said a military official. “There will be more soldiers willing to delay their discharge as the international sports events approaches near.”

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com