The Era of Women in Korea’s Armed Forces

Article from YTN:

The Era of 8,000 Female Soldiers. Active Even in Artillery and Armored Units


The number of female soldiers has swelled from a paltry 400 people during the June 25th Battle of the Korean Strait [1st day of the 1950-1953 Korean War] to now 8,000 people, helping bolster our national defense.

From earlier this year, the army decided to have the artillery, armored, and air defense units open their doors to women, broadening the scope of female contribution for the nation’s defense.

Reporter Hwang Hye-gyung has our report.


An emergency order has been issued to the artillery battalion to keep the front line protected.

All soldiers promptly moved to take their positions as trained.

The centerpiece of the firepower battle was the artillery unit.

At the heart of the artillery unit operation stands Second Lieutenant Hong Ji-hye, who was commissioned earlier this year.

With her artillery unit notorious for its grueling work, and stringent discipline, Hong volunteered to serve the military and executed her mission as artillery officer.

Her service is made possible after three units off limits to women–the artillery, armored forces, and air defense–opened the door to female soldiers.

Interview: Lieutenant Hong Ji-hye of the 76 Artillery Battalion, 6th Division of the Army

I know there is a lot of attention on me as the first female artillery officer, and doubt that I can do well, but I will do what I can to dispel any doubts about my performance.”

korean female soldier era armored forces

This year marks the 13th year of service for Sergeant First Class Yoo Eun-mi, who people say was “born to be” a soldier.

Sergeant Yoo has dreamed of becoming a soldier since middle school, and is now very competent at training new recruits.

The mother of a five-year-old daughter juggling her family and career, she has proudly taken on her mission to defend our nation.

Interview: Squad Commander Yoo Eun-mi of the 19 Regiment, 6th Division of the Army”

“I can take my daughter from and to the kindergarten by adjusting my working hours. So the flexible work hours program provided by the army is really good for me. I was allowed to commit myself to taking care of my daughter by taking a one-year maternity leave after I gave birth.”

Female soldiers now number about 8,000.

Next year, the figure is projected to surge the 10,000 mark, demonstrating stronger female presence in the military.

Comments from Naver:


Ya, right. So women can do everything except serving as a regular enlisted solider, no matter what.

jun0****[Responding to above]:

It would be better to ask [women] for additional national defense taxes. Before then, it is an urgent priority to decrease the number of generals and eradicate corruption in the military.


Please serve as regular soldiers as well…


They all became soldiers in the Tang Dynasty.


It would be great if [training] in the military becomes safer.


Will they really be able to play a role? There were two females in my search party. I was busy taking care of the equipment and female soldiers.


I don’t intend to belittle female soldiers but let me speak as an officer who served in an armored unit. Do you truly think female soldiers can repair, reload and install camouflage nets on armored vehicles? If a tank thread goes wrong, can female soldiers carry a metal level heavier than 20 kg? Will they just watch over if they have to work with heavy things? I don’t understand why they allowed females for this.


Just have women start at the bottom like men.


Why don’t they be regular enlisted soldiers then? Keke. Because they are women?


It seems female soldiers enter the army for a career rather than for their country. They hate to death to be an average enlisted soldier. I really don’t get why there are many women who want to enter the army as officers.


If women are capable of serving any roles, why do they say absolute no to serving as regular enlisted soldiers?


Didn’t the Constitutional Court say women are physically incapable of serving in the army? Aren’t those women too? Or are the judges on the Constitutional Court brainless?


If you look at their faces, they deserve to be in the army…


Please say concretely what active role they can play.


So now they can also take an active role as an enlisted soldier.


The pressure of arbitrary service in the army and intentional service in the army is different.

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  • Delicious Ttongsul

    Yay more comfort women for Japan :)

    • Live Frog Sushi

      How so? I thought you had enough with girlfriend pillows and panties selling machines :)

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      Well if Japanese find comfort from a bayonet up the butt, then yeah.

  • Koreans just hate women for some reason
    I’ve always considered women to be people

    • Guest

      Oh..must be slow day in 2ch …

      • Guest1

        what does 2ch has to do with anything? societies especially in Eastern Asia like S. Korea, Japan, and China has always been male dominant, and the gender inequality is rampant. this isnt to say that men should be the only ones to have mandatory military service and men should have the opportunity to be stay-at-home dads, but to shift attention to a societal problem that S. Korea has to a Japanese website is just plain ignorance.

        you cannot deny the fact that S. Korea has many problems, just like many developed countries around the world. dont try to make it a anti-Korean thing just because someone calls out S. Korea and their lack of gender equality.

        • Small twon

          “Koreans just hate women for some reason
          I’ve always considered women to be people”

          So you think this statement is “some calling out s.korea and their lack of gender equality ” … must be REALLY slow day in…ok..Certain.. website.

          • Guest1

            the statement is over the top, but what does that have to do with a Japanese website?

            I can literally say the same EXACT thing about Japan, China, even he US even though they’re considered slightly progressive. the fact of the matter is, denouncing the lack of gender equality is prevalent because it is an issue in almost all parts of the world, esp. Eastern Asian countries like S. Korea. if that same statement were to be on a JCrush comment section, would people consider it anti-Japanese rhetoric? maybe, but is it well deserved just like it is here? certainly. the overall issue is gender inequality in S. Korea, not speculation that it is anti-Korean rhetoric by Japan supporters and enthusiasts. stop trying to mask a problem with an irrelevant one.

    • Joe

      Young Korean men especially hate them because in their minds women are getting preferential treatment since it is not mandatory for them to serve in the military. I agree that there is gender inequality written into the law regarding this but regardless, it does not warrant a widespread hatred of women.

  • Insomnicide

    “They all became soldiers in the Tang Dynasty.”
    Could someone explain this?

    • commander

      “soldiers in Tang Dynasty” is a translation of 당나라 군대, referring to disorderly and undisciplined troops.

      This metaphorical term’s origin is not known, and there are several hypotheses online.

      Among them, one is the term came from describing the late Tang Dynasty, which were humiliatingly defeated in wars to other foreign ethnic groups in the fringes of the Tang China.

      Second one claims that the expression derives from Japan. Tang dynasty is famous enough to be known to Japan for its advanced culture and strong military might. In the Japanese mind, Tang Dynasty represents China in general.

      But such a powerful country was brought to knee by Japan in the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese War, creating the above expression meaning disorganized and incompetent troops, according to the second account.

  • 금정산

    I don’t think the ROK Armed Forces is able to protect women in the lower soldier ranks. Men in their military service are faced with hazing and bullying and I would hate to think what the environment would be for women. There is still a lack of distinction between bullying and acceptable discipline and a belief that you can’t discipline soldiers without tormenting them. Until these issues area addressed, nobody wants to serve in the lower ranks.

    Anyone who wants to see a change in this culture should support more women in NCO and CO positions. The opposition comes from the “poor me, poor me” attitude and a chauvinistic fear of being less than and taking orders from a woman.

  • bigmamat

    No one in the lower ranks is protected from hazing. Korean women must know this when they sign up. I’m not sure what most men would say about the American military. But women have been there long enough that’s it’s a done deal, no going back. Koreans do have rigid archaic notions about what men and women can and even want to do. Certainly women do not possess the brute strength that men possess. However, with a modern military there are many positions in the ranks to be filled without the need for heavy lifting. This could be good for the Korean military in that it will force the culture to look at things differently, like hazing. I also think the more volunteers an army has, the more professional. They are people who want to be there for whatever reason.

  • Black_Plague

    “It seems female soldiers enter the army for a career rather than for their country. They hate to death to be an average enlisted soldier. I really don’t get why there are many women who want to enter the army as officers.”

    Lol, I’m pretty sure a good chunk of ROK male officers also join the military for a career or simply because they want to be in the military (for various reasons) rather than their love for the country. Same goes for the NCOs that stay in service beyond the rank of Sergeant.

    Being an officer also means better pay, authority and other kinds of privileges that are otherwise not seen among enlisted troops + have better chances of a decent job upon end of active service. On the other hand though, officers serve longer than enlisted troops in the ROK military (barring the staff NCOs), have much larger responsibilities, and on top of it, the process it takes to actually be commissioned takes quite a while since you have to attend the military academy or ROTC first.

  • faves_slayer

    If there are 8000 female soldiers active, they’re a 1.22 % of all the active militares forces of the ROK (according to wikipedia in 2012). This is an interesting figure. Compare with other countries that allow women to go to the army (

    USA: 14.6%

    Australia: 12.8% (the number may be old)

    Israel: There’s conscription for both sexes, so they’re all soldiers or related to.

    Nepal: +30%

    China: 7.5%

    Denmark: 5% of the army, 6.9% of the navy, and 8.6% of air force (2010)

    France: 15%

    Ireland: 5.7%

    Norway: 7%

    Russia: 10%

    and so on…

    They’re similar to turkey and both countries are really a rare case. Take this as you want

    • Joe

      Isn’t military service mandatory of all Danes, male and female? I imagine there is a distinction of how both genders participate but nobody has explained it to me before.

    • Sillian

      It largely depends on what % of their soldiers are conscripted ones. It is 70% in Korea and this is one of the few exceptional situations in the world. Such large-scale conscription for male population in Korea drastically reduces the percentage of female soldiers, if you do the math.

  • IS

    The higher ranks should be open to women. It’s gender equality. The real matter that makes Korean men angry is mendatory service. It should be abolished first of all. But, by the way, is that armed forces really for defending South Korea and its people? I don’t think so.

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