Families of South Korean Soldiers Worried About War

kang dong won army

An intimate look at how the families of South Korean soliders are reacting to the increased tension has become another battleground in the debate over which country is responsible for the current tension. Comments and related coverage raise the question of whether South Koreans should be more concerned about their possible annihilation.

The contrast between how other countries react to the North’s threats and the nonchalance of South Koreans is well known among Koreans. Conservative media outlets criticise the lack of concern, saying that such an attitude makes it hard to prepare a sufficient national defense.

Among the reasons that the media have indicated for the business-as-usual atmosphere are: the indisputable superiority of the South Korean military to the North’s; a refusal to encourage the North’s aggression by showing fear; and a belief that admitting the danger would somehow make war more likely and thus ruin and destruction inevitable.

Other reports online have questioned whether it is worth the effort to grow concerned, since the North so rarely follows through on its threats of oceans of fire and cities reduced to ashes.

Article from The Hankyoreh:

Parents anxious as North and South ‘increase the tensions’, ‘War is not a game’

A mother adjusts the collar on her son’s uniform. He has just one month left before the end of his military service, a ‘short-timer’ who would normally have been relaxed as he headed back from leave for his last few weeks in the army. However, his mother can’t bear to let him go. The morning news talks about ‘North Korea’s impending missile launch’, and mother and father decide that they should follow their son all the way to the bus station. The father takes his son to the very door of the bus before they part, just like when he first took his son to basic training two years earlier.

The heart of a parent with a child in the military never stops yearning for peace. The Kim family, who have arrived at Seoul’s East-West Bus Terminal, share this desire for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. Before their son heads back to his base in Sokcho, in the far northeast of the country, both parents decided to close their shop for the day so that they can take him to the bus station.

‘The problems with relations between the North and South, coming just one month before my son leaves for the military, have left me worried. All I hope is that he comes back safe to us…War is not some kind of game, watching politicians on both sides try to increase the tensions, it feels like we are back in the 1950s,’ said one parent. As the parents take their son for his favorite meal, hamburgers, their farewell grows longer and longer.

‘I’m scared to watch the news’ ‘please end this through dialog’

‘Women with boyfriends in the military are also suffering. At the ‘Komusin Cafe’, an online group for women waiting for their boyfriends to finish their military service, comments of concern fill every page. ‘My heart stops every time I hear the Jindo air sirens‘, ‘For the first time, I’m realizing that our country is still at war with the North. Is anyone else having trouble giving encouragement to their boyfriends when it is hard to quiet your own concerns?’ Members of the group became even more mournful when they try to reassure one another. ‘If we are feeling the tension, I can only imagine how difficult it is for our boyfriends to be going through this alone.’

Often, worry turns into anger. A parent with the last name of Jeong, whose son is in the military, said, ‘I don’t understand why North Korea always makes these extreme choices and talks on about reunification and our one race. The South is the same way. In a fight between a married couple, it is easy to find a resolution as long as one side gives in. The North, with its refusal to budge a single inch in its positions, makes me so frustrated.’ Ms. Jeong, a homemaker, said, ‘I am angry at our politicians and at the north. Since they are so high and powerful they might not send their own children to the military and may not be concerned with the state of affairs, but for someone like me who has sent their only son the military, I can’t even begin to describe my worry. The only way to solve this is through dialog.’

In this January, 2013 photo, families watch as their sons enter the military source

In this January, 2013 photo, families watch as their sons enter the military (source)

Comments from Daum:


Please…let this end peacefully..


If war comes, it’s not as if having finished your military service will excuse you from the fighting.

착한 B형남자:

Then you should have voted better.

울산 바위:

Setting aside left-wing or right-wing politics, don’t forget that almost 50% of South Koreans would rather die than be controlled by dictators or ignorant leaders.


The reality is that in case of war, you will have a higher chance of surviving if you are a soldier than if you are a civilian, so, parents, don’t worry.


I’m sorry to say this, but North Korea must be thrilled to see articles like this. They love to see South Koreans quaking in fear. Why is the Hankyoreh so afraid of North Korea? Or are they afraid of war? Is there any fool here who actually thinks war is a good thing? If protecting one’s country means going to war, does that mean that you shouldn’t protect your country? Please don’t publish such foolish articles in the future. Perhaps the author of this article has himself yet to go into the army? So timid…tsk tsk


End this psychological war and politics of terror. Life is already tough without it. Think of the people first. ㅜㅜ


Leftist rag of a newspaper…why do you say you hate both South and North? Why are you hating on the South? What is it that you want our country to do to reassure the parents of our soldiers?


Typical Han-crap-play. [pun on the name of the newspaper]


Seriously, America is the root of evil. Think of its role in history. War has sustained capitalism. They grow rich off of war. We shouldn’t become sacrificial lambs.


If you are a citizen of South Korea, you might have been to the army at least once.. but the sentiment among the anxious parents of sons who have gone to the army, that North-South tensions should be resolved through dialog, is only visible here in the South. We have always tried to encourage dialog with the North and been unstinting in our financial support. But dealing with North Korea is worse than highway robbery. Should we forever give the North whatever they want? Why, if our nation is offering them aid, are we being attacked in return? I’m sure that I’m not alone in being unable to understand this paradox.


Where is your head at, Mr. Reporter?


Kim Dynasty has survived thanks to the efforts of lefty commies in the South.


That’s your view of the military? Listen, if there is no country, then there won’t be any children or parents to take care of them. This isn’t South Korea’s fault, it’s North Korea’s. Try not to write such a shitty article.


What is this bullshit?


Bullshit…is it only your sons who go to the military??? Almost all of us have to go…the guys in there right now just have shitty luck.

In this August, 2012 photo, a new group of soldiers enters training in Nonsan source

In this August, 2012 photo, a new group of soldiers enters training in Nonsan (source)


Who caused this situation? Do we want war? Of course, parents want their children to return from the military safely, but blaming both North and South sounds wrong.


And there are so many draft dodgers among our criminal politicians. When the war starts, let’s use them as human shields.


What can we say. Nobody wants war. It just starts with a mistake and explodes from there.


Who is our president these days? What exactly is she doing?

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