The season for the reserves is back. With reluctance, the troops answer to the call of duty and get ready to blow a whole day for their yearly training session. As for HUFSans, the former active duty soldiers gather in the schoolyard by 7:50 a.m.. By bus, they head to Keumgok Training Compound, which is located a dozen kilometers east of Seoul. After grouping into a squad, they follow the orders of the drill sergeant and receive trainings such as target practice and hand grenade, basically a recap of their two year service. The squads with high training scores or those who finish early, can go home at around 3:40 p.m.. Their eight hours of service pays an allowance of 13,000 won (US $10.92). Money for lunch is counted out from the total, which leaves you just 7,000 won (US $5.82).
For up to eight years, every able-bodied man, who completed the military service is automatically classified as a reserve unit on a part-time commitment in South Korea. The country has been evading accusations of this manpower usage as a political propaganda, with the-threat-from-the-North rhetoric still invincible until the permanent detente, no matter whatever peace treaty is made between the two Koreas. The situation is ostensibly better off for we undergraduates, only required to train eight hour a day, while the regular reservists are assigned to go through as short as 20 hours and up to three days annually. Still, it figures that the academic accommodation for the college students falls short of compensation. A part-time support it is, to not cover penalties students might face by missing classes.
An Kwan-ho, Dept. of Business Administration ‘16 recalls his late drills, “The inconvenient truth is that the training dates are announced after scheduling courses for a semester, usually in April. Having to catch up with fellow classmates, I try asking close friends for class notes and recordings to clearly monitor what I missed. But this does not always happen, as I once was refused help. As so, this year, I did not choose to be bothered with facing these awkward situations. Did my best to finish the training as early as possible, and succeeded to attend 5 p.m. class, 30 minutes late though.” An even shares complaints from his friends who already run their own businesses. As they undergo mobilized trainings of two to three days in a row, it seems to have generated quite a loss in sales due to temporary closures.
Another HUFSan, Lee Tae-kyu, Dept. of Political Science and Diplomacy ‘17, added that “I understand there can always be an ever-recurring source of social dissatisfaction, and that especially applies to the military culture as well. Plus, I am satisfied with the improved treatment the current government seems to be working on: easing restrictions on soldier’s off-base activities such as cellphone use and doubling wages of conscripted soldiers. What I do wish for this social construct is to show at least some moral authenticity, eradicate intractable problems and replace them with new appropriate norms.”
Should not the nation’s precious assets deserve a little more cheer? The unrecognized heroism of civilians spurs up questions. Cheer up, boys!
Staff Reporter of Theory & Critique Section