The unavoidable duty of Korean men is the duty of military service. Korea is currently the only divided nation on earth; North Korea and South Korea are confronting each other now. Many people do not feel the situation of war, but we are still at war. To be specific, we are in the truce situation. Therefore, Korean men have the duty of military service. They are trained to protect the country for two years and become real soldiers. But, what if they cannot join the army, even though they want to enlist themselves? What if they fail to go to the army continually despite several applications? It sounds absurd! However, it is a real situation of the forces in Korea. Our youth have reached a pitiful situation where they can't enter the army even if they want to, and government has not considered a countermeasure yet. As the title of this article suggests, Korean youth are in the military enrollment war.
1. Please Make Us Go to the Army
a. Military Manpower Administration Complaints
This year, the Military Manpower Administration has received 3000 complaints per month like, "Please send us to the army," from youth and their parents. There are various and severe complaints such as, "If you don't send my son to the army, I will make the Military Manpower Administration buildings explode now!" or "Revise the examination standard in order to not receive disadvantage due to attendance records at high school.”These complaints became a hot issue in social network services too, so opinions about those who wish to join the army are spread widely throughout Korea. The fact that volunteers cannot join the military is actually a very serious social problem. The complaints from youth are not the disdainful problem itself, but the problem is that the government must listen carefully. Some people say, "Is there someone who cannot go to army though they want to go?" However, this is a current problem and expanding as a social problem. Complaints are the sound of pain from the citizens. Government should devise a proper solution and make a brilliant solution including the opinions of these citizens.
b. Twenty is Gone
According to The Chosun Ilbo, one university student, who is from one of the best private universities, is taking a leave of absence from school for three semesters to prepare for only the military service, studying about the force. He applied for various soldier positions such as army administrative clerk, frontline guard soldier, and air force 15times, but he failed in all of his applications. He said ”My plan to concentrate on getting a job after the military service is on hold for now, and I am not sure what the day of going to army will be.” This is not only own problem, but also a problem for most men in their 20s. In their early 20s, most students are trying to look for their own career and to make a plan for it. Going to the army at that time means that they waste their youth and chase their dreams more slowly than others. Of course, we cannot abandon the duty of military service. But, if the day to go army is continually put off, men's 20s are gone forever, taken up with by the military service and its preparation.
c. The Military Exam
If you apply for the military service right now, you can enter the military late next year at the earliest. Can you believe it? Maybe you don’t believe it, but this is the actual situation of the forces. There are so many people who want to go to the army that they should wait a long time because of thousands of applicants. Moreover, although someone applies for the military service continually, the only thing that he can do is wait until he is accepted. As a result, a lot of people apply for many army positions in the navy, air force, and conscripted police service, and as accompanied enlisted soldiers, language soldiers and so on. For example, last year, the conscripted police service competition rate increased to 26.4:1 times. Also, workbooks for preparing for the exam for the conscripted police service were released to the public, and even conscripted police academies exist now. Why didn't the Ministry of National Defense predict this situation and what are they doing about it now?
2. Why Can We Not Go to Army?
a. The Limitation of Law
In 2006, National Defense Reformation 2020 was implemented during the ruling period of President Roh Moo-hyun, who was president at that time. This policy was revised to2030 by the Park Geun-hye administration, and it is now being implemented. At this time, the government made the national defense revision law, which calls for the reduction in forces in line with the previous policy. By this law, it is said that troops will be reduced by over 110,000 – from 633,000 people to 522,000people by the year 2022. Troops in the army will be reduced from 498,000 people to 387,000 people, while air force, navy and marine numbers will be maintained. Actually, the government thought the relationship with North Korea would improve, so they reduced troop numbers. Since the situation between North and South Korea is absolutely different from the previous relationship when they had South-North Dialogue, there is now a problem.
b. Keen Competition Rate
According to Military Manpower, those who want to enlist now but can't go due to the current situation, has reached 55,000. As it is, army congestion is going to approach 100,000 after three years, and hit 210,000 after seven years, in 2022. We can see the cause of army congestion in two reasons. One reason is the large age group of current youth born from 1991 to 1995 from parents of the baby boom generation. Therefore, the number of men in this cohort is much larger than in other years. In addition, the psychology like, “I think joining the army is a priority for me,” is added as youth unemployment gets worse day-by-day. Consequently, 802,000 people applied for 104,000positions last September. It shows a keen competition rate therein.
3. Ministry of National Defense: Propose the Solution!
a. Increase Little-by-Little
The government has begun to take a new measure since the army problem is getting worse unexpectedly the military situation on the Korean Peninsula. The Ministry of National Defense and the Saenuri Party consulted to input 60billion won for 10,000 soldiers each year from 2016 to 2017in order to resolve the congestion phenomenon. Likewise, it is the solution of government to add to troop numbers little-by-little and increase the number of soldiers continually. However, this is not a fundamental solution but rather it is a mere temporary solution. It is because this situation will be back again in spite of increasing members little-by-little. The best way to solve this problem is to root out whole current policy. Government should put more force strength in the places where the number of soldiers is deficient and always keep the military strength regardless of the relationship with North Korea.
b. Military Reformation: Change for the Real Situation
As aforementioned, the congestion of army applicants has been getting worse as there has been no realistic change in national defense policy. However, there is the 2020 national defense revision, and they even proposed the revision for 2030 recently. If the government is about to make another law again, citizen will complain about it definitely. Some people might say that this is meaningless and useless. It is obvious to amend the national defense policy in 2030 depending on the current situation where is getting aggravate the relationship between North and South Korea, if the law was wrong from the beginning. Therefore, the government has to make reformation newly, unlike the previous plan.
4. Typical Voice of a Student
Interview with one university student who failed to enlist several times (Anonymous)
Q1: How many times and where did you apply for the army? What do you think about the reasons why you failed?
A1: I applied three times since January as an accompanied enlisted soldier once and as a technique and administration serviceman twice. However, I failed in all of my applications. I think that young people continually fail to enlist because there are a lot of people who applied to the army like me.
Q2: How was your feeling when you failed?
A2: The government said to me, “You should go to the army.”I don't want to go to the army, but I have to. Nevertheless, I failed to enlist many times. I'm really confused and annoyed. I feel I'm stuck in the middle of waiting the order to go army.
Q3: Are there words to say to the Ministry of National Defense?
A3: If we should inevitably go to the army, please send us as soon as possible. Please!
Two years is never a short time. The government and citizens should respect youth who devote their time and effort never to get it back. Above all, the nation’s youth are shining and brilliant, socially talented people as any other people. Citizens have to pay attention to government policies and insist that it reform its policies as much for youth as for protecting the country. CAH hopes that youth may be able to go to the military service at the time they want to go.
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