Korean Women Flock to Military Careers

Despite stories of sexual harassment against female soldiers in the Korean military, interest in a military career among women has never been higher. In the face of ferocious competition for jobs, new statistics show that female students have found a military officer training program to be an ideal route to a brighter future, spurring debate about the purpose of Korea’s military and the abilities of female soldiers.

While young female officers profiled in a November 3rd report were optimistic about their future, online response was overwhelmingly negative. Stories of women becoming officers for the fringe benefits struck a nerve among those Koreans bitter about the unequal burden of military conscription for men.

Article From Newsis:

Facing a competitive job market, more female college graduates are setting their eyes on becoming commissioned military officers.

Female army officers candidate school (FAOCS) trainees training near the Army Cadet Military School in North Chungcheon Province.

Female army officers candidate school (FAOCS) trainees training near the Army Cadet Military School in North Chungcheon Province.

The difficulty of landing a corporate job has resulted in a growing number of aspiring female military officers. The rate of applicants to open positions was 6.4 to 1 as of 2012, prompting a surge in attendance at private academies that prepare students for a military career.

Ryu Da-hye, 25, said”I didn’t know how hard it was for women in their twenties fresh out of university to find a job until I submitted twenty job applications and didn’t get a single position. Frustrated, I saw my younger brother getting drafted into the army. It was at that moment that I thought, ‘This is it.'”

Ryu started her job search with confidence, believing her qualifications to be very competitive: a diploma from an intermediate-high-ranked university with a good GPA, experience serving as president of the student body of her college, volunteering and internship experiences, a decent TOEIC score(875), and other various certificates.

Six months later, to her frustration, the 25-year-old had failed to get acceptance at any of the 20 big firms to which she applied. Her only success was progressing to the final round of recruitment interviews at one of the nation’s top five companies, however she was cut at the last stage.

Despondent, Ryu began to look up the Korean Army Officer Candidate School (KAOCS) after her younger brother joined the military in August 2012. KAOCS is designed to bolster the number of commissioned officers in the military. Applicants are required to be university graduates and take tests before becoming commissioned officers, after which they serve for thirty-six months. In general, all able-bodied Korean men are required to serve about 21 months in the military.

“The primary reason for me to turn to the army was my difficulty in finding a job,” Ryu added, “A military career was something I had never considered at that time, but I have now taken this path.”

After looking online about the details of a military career and its fringe benefits, Ryu grew more attracted to the life of a female commissioned officer.

Afterwards, she started gathering information on the KAOCS program. In contrast to the reserve officers’ training corps (ROTC), where applicants take tests in the second year of university, receive military training for the remaining two years while they attend school, and then are commissioned as military officers for a 28-month term, the KAOCS program allows students to apply in their senior year of university or even after graduation. After undergoing written tests, physical tests, and interviews, successful applicants train to be commissioned officers.

Ryu cites the higher chance employment after finishing 36 months of military service as one of merits of the military recruitment program.

Ryu noted, “Big firms have a separate recruiting process for discharged commissioned officers. That process is less competitive than other employment procedures. I am also considering becoming a civilian worker in the military after my discharge.

Like Ryu, a growing number of female job seekers are looking to military service for stable employment after the failure to find a job in the private sector. Some of them seek a military career as a stepping stone to future employment after discharge.

Lee Yun-hye (alias) made up her mind in her senior year of university to enter a preparatory class for the KAOCS set up at her university. Lee made her decision after two years of failure in her job search.

25-year-old Lee’s decision was affected by her concern that she should start making money to relieve her parents of financial burden. She has two younger siblings who were in school at the time.

Lee believes that a woman with military experience will stand out from other jobseekers and imagines her confidence outshining other female job applicants during future job interviews.

According to the Korean Bureau of Statistics, as of September 2012, of women in the 25-29 age bracket, 6.2 percent were out of work, double the overall average unemployment rate (2.7%). The higher joblessness rate sets the stage for a remarkable rise in female applications for KAOCS, a program that has up until now been filled mostly with male applicants.

According to the Ministry of Defense, 2010 saw a total of 1,300 female applicants for KAOCS for the Army, Navy and Air Force, resulting in an acceptance rate of only 1 out of 4.6.

In 2011, the number of female applicants rose to 1,500 and saw an acceptance rate of 1 out of 5.5. In 2012, the figures increased again, to 1,900 applicants and 1 out of 6.4.

The growing popularity among women for the KAOCS has resulted in a jump in demand for private academies (hagwon) among women in their twenties.

A representative from such a hagwon said, “We have seen a growing number of women change their career paths to prepare for KAOCS after they discovered the difficulty of getting a job these days. KAOs are considered public servants, so it is popular among young women.”

Advertisement for a specialty military officer entrance exam hagwon

Advertisement for a specialty military officer entrance exam hagwon

“Last year we had about twenty women in our class for the KAOCS program, there are now 87, a more than four-fold increase,” the official went on to say.”

Experts blame the growing boom on corporations’ discriminatory recruitment against women.

Lee Joo-hee, a sociology professor at Ehwa Womans Univeristy, pointedly said, “Although it is beneficial for more women to get into military service, the increasing KAOCS applications by women can be seen as a testament to the discrimination that women suffer in corporate employment compared with men.”

The professor said, “More decent jobs need to be created, and firms should do away with discriminatory employment practices that give preference to male job seekers.”

Comments From Naver:


The job of a soldier is to defend the country, the army is not a place for those who failed to get a job. With that spirit, our country will get fucked in a war.


Just joining the military for fringe benefits? This country is sure in great shape.


I saw female soldiers taking a physical test, it’s easier than preparatory training at boot camp. They are not soldiers, they’re bureaucrats.


They’d better just go for nursing officers. We don’t need women who hate to do hard work.


I insist that the recruitment process for female officers be made on the basis of conscription, not volunteering so that they can get an easier job search.


I already finished my military service. Having a female soldier in the unit was really tiring. The privates have to build a toilet, a tent and washing place just for her when we went out for field training. I won’t complain if she takes active part in training with an esprit de corps, but she just gave orders to us and was playing with her phone behind our back.


Women join the army for career building, but men are hauled away into the army against their wishes.


How selfish these women are! Women refuse to get conscripted into the military and then they volunteer and build a career? Women in the military are hardly competent. When I see female military officers, commissioned or noncommissioned, they are both so incapable that people wonder how they got into the army in the first place.

Freshly commissioned female officers salute at their graduation ceremony in the Korean Army Academy in Yeongchen, North Chungcheon Province in 2009.

Freshly commissioned female officers salute at their graduation ceremony in the Korean Army Academy in Yeongchen, North Chungcheon Province in 2009.

Comments From Daum:


The fact that some women join the military using the KAOCS program is evidence that women can serve their country, so to achieve the gender equality that die-hard feminists are demanding they should enact conscription for women.

적절한 균형:

It is positive to see more women join the military. Shouldn’t it then be reasonable to make stubborn feminists serve in the military and give extra credit points during the recruitment process to those who finished their military duties?


The Supreme Court ruled against the extra credit point system for those who completed their military service, saying that the system could stoke gender inequality because some women who want to serve in the military have no way to get it done under the current system. Now the door to military service is open for women, including the KAOCS and a program for female non-commissioned officers.


Women can’t get into the military service as private soldiers but go into it as officers, positions which have a higher salary.


They will come to their senses if they serve as privates like men do, not officers who make more money and are more comfortable during their service.


The likelihood of superiors committing sexual assault is probably going to increase. How ridiculous is it that women join the military after failing to get a job? What a shame on the nation!

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  • eeddee

    I don’t see how smart women who have good university education joining the military is bad thing. I am sure military loves them.

  • Silicon is bullet-proof

  • chris

    i dont see the problem with females wanting to serve. 1. theyre willing to sacrifice personal freedom to serve a job most people do not want to do. 2. they want to further expand their career opportunities. whats wrong with that? people can do whatever they’d like regardless of their gender roles set by society.

    • Rock 71

      The problem is that the men are forced into the military and the women are not. I thought feminists believed in “my body,my choice” but I hear no outcry from feminists that the men are forced to give the military their bodies for two years while the women are not forced to join. The other problem is the women joining as officers while the men are conscripted as privates.

      • bigmamat

        I guess I would say, so what? Men can join as officers too if they choose. Why not just go ahead after college and enlist as an officer instead of sitting around waiting to be forced to join? I guess all the korean mom’s, wives and girlfriends are just jumping for joy because their men have to serve for two years with limited visitation. Really? Korean military conscription is so contentious because it is no longer relevant today, not because women have done anything wrong. Why not look for solutions to the conscription problem instead of taking out your frustrations on your women. What a bunch of crybaby pussies.

        • haha

          Well, unfortunately, changing the ROK military conscription system is pretty much unlikely to happen. Despite mandatory service, were in a situation where the enemies outnumber us by a ratio of 2:1. I can see what you’re trying to say, but it’s unrealistic. And about the enlisting to an officer, it’s not as easy as you think. It’s very competitive and if you fail, you have no option but to serve as a private. But you’ll have get a university that has a ROTC system to try this out. I don’t think there are a lot but a few schools in Seoul. And, Like I said, I know your point that it’s not the women’s fault and problem, but I wish you can talk like you have at least a little bit of respect for the Korean mens’ service. It’s a little bit uncomfortable to see you calling people who watch your back a bunch of crybaby pussies.

          • bigmamat

            I’m sorry I don’t really want to argue about this but, outnumbered by who, the North Koreans? I don’t know standing troop levels of either army, yours or the NK. But I am however wondering about all those white and black guys wandering around Korea in their camo that don’t speak Korean. I thought the U.S. military had your back for like the last 50 years. I’d say that pretty much makes up for any problems you might have with troop levels and resources.

            I wouldn’t call anyone a pussy if I didn’t see this all the time out here in comment sections when people start talking about conscription. So now women want to enlist and I still see Korean men complaining. Do you think it would make the cry babies happy if the military issued them all a BJ on the day they get out? Tell your pals to stop blaming their women for a situation none of you seem to have any control over. Stop beating each other up with tales of your service. SK military service has evolved into more than just protecting the country. Now it’s a rite of passage. A test every male must endure and if you don’t you aren’t a man. I see men commenting all the time that women shouldn’t have rights because they don’t serve. The other tool Rock head up there, says it’s a problem to have women officers while you have male privates. Crack me up, so it’s a problem to have a woman in a leadership position because why….Oh that’s right because Korean men don’t get told what to do by women.You guys go ahead and fight it out. Damn I’m glad to be an American.

  • linette lee

    is this Commander translating this. Very nicely translated. Thank you commander.

    ahhahahah.. I would do the same thing if I was born in China. Go join the china military and get training and then specialize in some special unit. Get into one of those skilled position. Maybe they will even send you oversea. And also military trained you get better chance getting good jobs. Maybe a gov’t job. To me that’s the way to go in China at least.

    • commander

      Yes, this post is my second, though my draft translation went through editing into a more polished version.

      • David

        I agree, really nice job. Keep up the good work.

        • commander

          Thanks for your compliement.

          Still there is a lot of room for improved translation for me.

  • linette lee

    “”I already finished my military service. Having a female soldier in the unit was really tiring. The privates have to build a toilet, a tent and washing place just for her when we went out for field training. I won’t complain if she takes active part in training with an esprit de corps, but she just gave orders to us and was playing with her phone behind our back.””

    hahahah….lol That’s funny. Fire her. literately.
    The problem is mostly because she was the only female there. If you have 10 or 11 female there they can set up their own tent and bathroom areas by themselves. Pop up tent for shower or something. Not so hard when you have a team. Kind of hard because she was alone and she can’t sleep or shower with the male soldiers.

    • Sam Chung

      You miss the point that, to BUILD a tent and a toilet for woemn, you do NOT need to be men, while to USE them, you do need to be women.

      So why that female sergeant didn’t lift a finger to set up her own tent? Clear case of uncritical gender entitlement.

    • william r. delzell

      I agree that forcing one gender to give up so many years of their civilian liberties and forcing them to endure unreasonably hellish conditions in basic training while the draft-exempt of the other sex gets a head start in job seeking under a far more humane environment than South Korea’s Soviet-like barbaric military institutions is absolutely unacceptable.
      To me, the South Korean military, just like its Russian counterpart, is only good at two things: one–mistreating its draftees; and two-helping the government brutally put down peaceful protest groups. If South Korean should ever re-engage in war with North Korea, one of two things will happen. If South Korean soldiers feel themselves at a disadvantage with North Korea, they will cut and run and turn against their own commanding officers. If, on the other hand, the South Korean soldiers feel they are winning, they will commit the same types of atrocities that one could expect the North Koreans to commit against their victims. It will be “take no prisoner” with victorious South Korean soldiers pillaging, raping, looting, and massacring both civilians and soldiers alike. Neither South nor North Korea’s militaries are known for their respect for human rights for either soldiers or for civilians. During the 1950-1953 part of the ongoing Korean Peninsula civil war, U.S. soldiers could not tell the difference between North and South Koreans when it came to the level of atrocities carried out. To the U.S. soldier, especially the white-skinned U.S. soldier, all Koreans, male or female, north or south, were Gooks.
      The dehumanizing training that South Korean draftees are subject only exacerbates their already existing violent sexist attitude toward women.
      Why aren’t South Korean males disobeying the draft in large numbers and staging large protests against the practice of singling out the male gender for this horrible abuse? Why aren’t more South Korean soldiers currently on duty not turning their weapons against their tormentors or deserting and defecting en masse! Maybe we will get an answer in the near future.

  • PhantomLancer

    from what i read on koreabang korean women seem really despicable, i hope its not as bad as netizens make it up to be

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      The internet in general makes things more bad than it really is.

      • Jurippe

        Really? There’s a lot of posters who make it sound like if the internet exemplifies truth more than actual reality.

        • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

          The internet connects millions upon millions of people together. Even a small percentage of that is a big number.

    • David

      I work with Korean women everyday and they are polite, professional and caring people. Perhaps I am just lucky but of the 30 or so women I work with I can not think of one who is of any low character or has anything more than the usual human share of flaws (ok, maybe a little too obsessed with their looks, but that is about it lol).

  • guest

    Those who are saying that the military should appreciate having college educated woman applying to be officers, or that anybody should have the opportunity to be whatever they want, regardless of gender, are missing the point. The comments are talking about how it is unfair that men have to enlist in the military, while some woman claim that they either can’t or wont, or even worse, as has happened in the past, try to claim that being in the military shouldn’t allow you to be eligible for benefits.
    And if they do enlist, the standard for them are completely different than those for men. And yet here you have woman joining to be officers, never having served in the enlisted ranks, but who will, by virtue of their rank have better pay, benefits, and easier duty then the mostly male enlisted ranks, who were forced to serve. And in most cases, as they say in their own words, they are not applying out of some patriotic duty, but purely to get the benefits, so that they could get better jobs later. So naturally you will have people expressing bitterness.

    • bigmamat

      You are just too funny. First of all how long has Korea had mandatory military service? Since the cease fire? So you think Korean women had a hand in making up the rules? Really? You are just too cute. I look at blogs all the time and see posts from you tough guys that served mandatory military in SK. Funny did you all trade your penises afterward because what I hear is a lot a whining like butthurt girls. Women don’t have to serve wah, wah, wah. So change the rules. It might be time for Korea to think about building a professional army through enlistment as opposed to mandatory conscription.

      • guest

        You seem afwully upset. I am not Korean, nor did I serve in the military. I was simply stating facts here. Its true that woman didn’t come up with the conscription system, I never said they did, nor was I blaming them. Just explaining where I felt the commentators were coming from. As for why people would be “whining” about it, as you say, it is because it is unfair that half the population is forced to give up 2 years of their lives for something, while half is not.

        • bigmamat

          Well I’d also say it was unfair that women in Korea are going into the military because they are not getting hired for civilian jobs. Then when they find an alternative they are criticized. I’m not upset. I’m amused. It’s so unfair, men are so downtrodden. Poor babies.

          • guest

            I’m not going to argue the point with you, but your last sentence does clarify one thing to me; you are hella mad about something in your life to do with men. I would talk that over with someone if I were you. Just a suggestion.

          • bigmamat

            I’m not mad at men, I love men. Real men that is, men that don’t blame their social and economic problems on women. Maybe you haven’t noticed but women in this world still operate under 2nd class citizen status just about everywhere. Even in countries like mine, the U.S., there are large, vocal groups of male dominated groups that think women should still be under the authority of men. Do we even need to talk about other places around the planet where women are still treated like property, which is nothing more than a modern version of slavery. I’ve been interested in South Korea for about a year. The country is very proud of it’s economic accomplishments and their new form of democratic government but culturally they have a long way to go. Problem with that is that cultural underclasses in a society always experience economic deprivations that are not shared by the ruling class. In other words if you are a women, if you are a person of color or a minority ethnic background your chances of being poorer, sicker and politically powerless go up exponentially.

      • Sunkyo

        bigmamat, I understand your point. But transitioning into a professional army through enlistment is another matter. The size of economy already tells us that South Korea can’t afford what the US can…. Enlistees will be, you know, Defense ministry employees with official service contracts. The pay will have to be reasonably high to make a living. So, I don’t see how Korea can do that with its economy…

        • bigmamat

          Of course economics play a large part in transitioning to an all voluntary army. I believe I did read that ROK has scaled back on it troop levels and has been gradually reducing the mandatory service time. It just occurred to me that I’ve never read if Korea has anything like reserve units. The U.S. relies pretty heavily on reservists and the national guard. I feel like Korea will eventually need to come up with some other plan. Certainly they could get men to sign on for 8 year enlistments if they gave educational grant money.

          • chucky3176

            Korea definitely do have a reservist system, most men who have finished their military duty, must drop their jobs, and still report to reservist trainings. But they don’t train very hard, and most take it as an intrusion on their lives.

            And it’s not matter of not being able to afford a professional military system. They just don’t want to add to the national debt and go broke, by spending on defense salary. Because the North Koreans are amassed on land only 50km away from Seoul, Korea’s warfare will be on land – which require lots of infantry soldiers to hump the rugged land where tanks can’t go. So Korea’s preference is to spend more on equipment, to replace these men, at a time when birth rates are all time lows.

            Plus, I don’t think enlistment system will work in this generation, when the South Korean society look down on manual labor and hardship. Soldiering is dirty dangerous difficult manual labor, and most Koreans who do this for living have a hard time being respected. They prefer a nice safe desk job at a big corporation, earning $36,400 a year (Source: OECD), which is the average yearly wage in Korea, rather than working at the Daewoo Shipyard, as a welder, making $60,000 a year. Even if you made $60K a year, you’ll be considered a loser because in the end, you’re just another manual laborer. Same thing with soldiering.

          • bigmamat

            Well one reason that nobody would want to actually join the Korean military is it’s terrible reputation. Awful food, terrible barracks and services and most of all long days filled with not much to do. I’ve never checked on the average income in Korea. I thought it to be higher than that since I just read this week that we 70,000 Koreans going to college in U.S. this year. That figure is down a little from previous years. So how do all those 36,000 a year jobs figure into a U.S. college education? Obviously there are a lot of people making more.

    • lonetrey / Dan

      I’m not going to sit here and tell you whether the male soldiers are wrong or right, nor if the female enlisters are wrong or right.

      The only thought I had in my mind is, “Oh my, … so this is what people feel like when they have gender inequality in a workplace.”

      Applies to many other places and situations, doesn’t it? o_o

    • Joey

      Wow, officers get better treatment than the enlisted, it’s not like this is the case all over the world (ok, not in the Red Army and the former PLA). And most officers have never been enlisted.

  • Mighty曹

    A very unlikely article following “Female Soldier Commits Suicide..” from last week.

  • holdingrabbits

    In terms of sheer volume of applicants, this is not really as big of a problem as netizens would like it to be. 1,900 applicants with only 1 in 6 getting in? That’s a drop in the bucket, not a phenomenon. Most women are still in “their place” in Korean society and this is the natural reaction to a woman doing something she’s “not supposed to do.” Similar outcries happen over just about anything that strays from the norm. Imagine though if enough female applicants volunteered that men were no longer conscripted! I doubt there would be any complaining then.

    • Sam Chung

      I don’t think you understand where the reaction to these female applicants come from. Male-only military conscription has been a bone of contention in recent years, partly originating from a male chauvinistic sentiment and partly originating from real concerns over the equality IN military service.

      It perplexes people why Korean women shouldn’t serve in the military alongside their male counterpart, when in country like Israel (with a similar standing in gender equality index and a similar, heightened level of military confrontation) women must serve alongside men–albeit a shorter term.

      Worse yet, it perplexes people why some elements in the Korean society and especially the supposedly “feminist” elites in the sham Ministry for Gender Equality would oppose added consideration in employment process for men who served in the military, when basically all conscript-only militaries in countries with similar or higher HDI as ROK (Taiwan, Israel, Germany for example) around the world grants such benefit to those who serve in the military, both men and women. This is especially true because, unlike in the past, Korean women CAN CHOOSE to serve in the military if they wish. If there’s any gender-based discrimination, the solution is not penalizing men for two years, but creating measures of positive discrimination for women. But I guess the gender equality ministry is only marginally interested in that for some reason.

      To be sure, sexism continues to exist in ROK and as you say a negative reaction to women serving in the military is the result of such sexism.
      But you must understand that sexism can co-exist with reverse sexism, just as reverse racism can exist with racism (just think affirmative action in college admission in the US, which really only benefits middle class blacks already well-off and penalizes white applicants and does little to none for most black Americans that won’t reach college-level studies).

      Male-only military conscription is ROK is a clear case of reverse sexism.
      In the ROK, life after graduation is extremely tough and competitive, for both men and women. Locking up men for 2 years and depriving them of valuable time to prepare for the job market is crystal clear reverse sexism, and denying them any benefit from military service is adding insult to injury.

      The basic reality is that men HAVE TO serve, while women can CHOOSE TO serve.

      You may think you can argue that the male-only system is a result of a sexist system that keeps women out of the military, like you argue in vain. But the reality is that women can and do serve in the ROK military and even in combat as special warfare command operators, which was better than what female US army soldiers could ask for until now. There’s no “barrier” to military service that you imagine.

      Added to this reality, these opportunistic applicants come around and you wonder why Korean men are so angered?

      From the male perspective, the female complaint about gender discrimination is a distraction from the reality that they must solely bear the burden of falling out of the job preparation for two years so that they can come out and deal with women yelling discrimination, many of whom would care less about lifting a finger to reform the reverse sexist institution that is the military conscription system.

      • holdingrabbits

        Men are inherently favored in every aspect of society here. If there’s a position of power, it’s most likely a man that holds it. The reason why women may be rewarded for military service is because they didn’t *have* to do it. It’s like in business…you can stay until 6pm like your contract states, or you can stay late to impress the boss (even though you don’t have to) and you’re more likely to get a promotion because you did something you didn’t have to do. The solution to your dilemma is to make all military service optional and not mandatory.

        If you think that reverse sexism is overpowering the actual sexism in Korea, then I’m sorry you feel that way, but you’re just wrong. This is a man’s country. Men can openly beat women in the street and no one stops them. Men are expected to sleep around and cheat, but a woman is a “slut” if she does the same thing. Come on, do you REALLY think that Korean men and women are equal in any way? Women aren’t regarded nearly as much as men in Korean society, that’s just reality.

        There is no “barrier” to get into military service for women…except that only 1 in 6 applicants were accepted…so it sounds like they don’t need much help after all. If you basically knew that you would never be the president of a company and that men would always get promotions before you or that you would be asked for sexual favors in order to get promotions, I imagine you might be “opportunistic” as well. Women are valued for their looks in Korea, not their intellect or qualifications. You think the women who read the news have that job just because they were at the top of their class? Sure…..

        • Sam Chung

          1) In the ROK, a country locked into perpetual conflict with NK and possible future conflicts with other EA countries, a 100% volunteer army is a thing of fiction. That’s equal to suggesting Israel stop drafting people.

          When conscription is the only solution, the only equal and fair thing is drafting Koreans of both sex. I don’t even mean that women have to serve in the military specifically. They may be given more leeway in choosing other public service options for two years–per the gender inequality. BUT to suggest that the current system is in any way fair, that’s just wrong.

          2) If there is sexism and gender inequality OUTSIDE of the military and the conscription system, the remedy should be found OUTSIDE of the two. That is, if gender inequality exists in the work place, in the family, and in public service, you should advocate for measures to promote increased female participation in such fields.

          Imposing what is effectively a 2-year prison sentence SOLELY on men is just a case of reverse racism gone awry. You do not solve an inequality in field 1 for group A by imposing a reverse discrimination measure against group B in another field. You come up with and implement positive discrimination measures for group A in field 1.

          3) Since we’re talking inequality, why stop at gender inequality? Why not class inequality as well?

          Already the number of Korean women in tertiary education exceeds the number of Korean men in the same, and the ratio will only favor women in the future as female workforce participation increases.

          This is certainly a boon for gender equality. But in terms of class status, more and more men of all classes and women of lower socioeconomic class status will surely lose at the expense of college-educated women.

          The male-only conscription system only exacerbates this problem by (1) giving college educated women a head start in job market preparation (the infamous 스펙쌓기) and (2) allowing them to enter the workforce 2 or more years earlier than men (which is an added advantage because your employablility declines as you age, and this is especially true in the ROK where entry-level jobs are expected to be handed off to young college grads)

          In an unbearably competitive job market as ROK’s, with astronomical youth unemployment, it is not even far fetched to say that, college-educated men are being discriminated against college-educated women, and that effects of such discrimination is not trivial and affects the psyche of an entire of generation of young men.

          The so-called “feminist” elites at the Ministry for Gender Equality and their Gangnam Leftist allies drunk with their fascination with the glorious day when SK unifies with NK do little to nothing in terms of broaching this class divide for men AND women. The advocacy given for lower class women amounts to setting up couple domestic abuse hotlines and woefully underfunded shelters for women.

          They wonder then why are so many men pissed off and why radical right wing sites like Ilbe.com pops up and attracts such following. Imagine why so many people in America support the braindead Tea Baggers and why so many of these supporters come from the poor South and dilapidated former industrial areas with rampant poverty and inequality.

          And the “expats” so uncritically accept all the barrage of bitching and whining given to them by “Korean women” who are in reality not representative of Korean women and are rather cream of the crop, 1% princesses from Gangnam who graduated top of their class with and got to study in America with the help of $200 an hour private tutoring and thanks to their parents’ 800K+ income.

          4) Discrimination in workplace and objectification of woman’s body exists everywhere in the world, even in so-called gender-equal Scandinavian countries. But none of them, and I mean NONE OF THEM FROM BOTTOM OF THE RANKING TO THE TOP OF THE RANKING, would require men to throw 2 years of their lives down the toilet and expect nothing in return. No homage, no deference, no benefit, nothing. All you get after serving two years in the ROK military is preferential rate in private retirement plans and another 20 years of serving in the reserve army and then civil defense corps.

          As I’ve said, countries with similar HDI or UNDP gender equality rating like Israel require all people to serve. And all of these countries give preferential treatment to veterans, men only or men and women in some cases. But the Gender Equality ministry won’t hear anything connecting “military” and “benefit”.

          And you somehow think women are BARRED from military service, saying volunteer service is the only solution. No, that is not the case in this world and the next one. Men HAVE TO SERVE and women CHOOSE TO SERVE. And military service is an advantage for these women that choose to serve, because so few of them do serve and that becomes a mark of distinction, while for men that is not the case. That is why I say “opportunistic”. For them it is a career move, for men it is not. No one is telling them not to serve in the military. There’s no thought police going around making sure women don’t dream of military service. Women simply avoid military service, because they don’t want to be in the military and they don’t have to.

          That is the source of A inequality, not THE inequality. I’m not even claiming that the effects of male-only conscription system outweighs all the discrimination experienced by Korean women. I am simply stating that on principle, you cannot right a wrong by committing another wrong.

          • holdingrabbits

            I’m not going to write nearly as much as you did.

            1) Of course Korea needs mandatory military service. The point was to say that the only way for your problem with this issue to be solved is through volunteer services. There’s no point in giving special benefits to someone who was legally obligated to be in the military. You want to know the benefit of men being in the military? Well for one they don’t have to live with social stigma for the rest of their lives or go to prison. It’s like how the reward for not going to jail is being able to get a good job. You don’t say “I never went to jail and all I got was this shitty white collar job (that criminals could not hope to get).”

            2) What if there is sexism INSIDE the military too?

            3) Let’s not pretend that those 2 years of a head start women get influence anything. The second men get into the field they surpass their female counterparts nearly instantly. Women get a “head start” but last time I checked, mandatory military service has been around for a long time and most people in power in companies and local government are men. Maybe it could be that women are also expected to pop out babies and stay home forever after that because they’d be considered bad mothers if they worked and the father would be viewed as not being able to provide for his family, thus bringing him a loss of face as well…but even if they just drop out of the workforce for a few years, it’s a black mark on their resume and it’s often difficult for them to find work in their field again…but hey, that’s the nuanced view.

            Youth unemployment? I didn’t know this was a problem as almost no one here gets a job for the first time until they turn 25 and continue to live with their parents for a while after that. You want to solve youth unemployment? Parents can stop giving their kids money once they’re old enough to work.

            And what’s this with the sensitive psyches of men in Korea? Why does everything have to be so emasculating? If it’s not one thing it’s another! It’s not damaging to the psyche because of unfairness and reverse sexism, but rather because of entitlement. Men think they deserve something because they are men and if they don’t get it they’ll be pissed off. Like the general disdain for foreigners “taking OUR women” while simultaneously hitting on any white girl with a pair of tits in broken English. Regardless, you can’t solve class inequality without first solving the issues of gender or race. Find me an economically level society where race or gender are divisive issues. Doesn’t exist.

            4) Again, this is called entitlement. Everyone’s all super nationalistic and all about Korea, but it sounds like everyone just wants everyone else to serve the country…except for women, who might receive some benefits for doing something that they didn’t have to do in the first place. I didn’t say they were “barred” from serving at any point…but whereas ALL men must serve, only 1 in 6 female applicants are accepted…so you have one gender where virtually every applicant is accepted and one gender where only 16.6% of applicants are accepted. You’re basically saying that the country should reward men for doing something they must legally do…sort of like expecting to get a check in the mail for not driving drunk. The payoff is that you don’t get arrested for driving drunk; you don’t get a reward for doing something you have to do.

          • Sillian

            There’s no point in giving special benefits to someone who was legally obligated to be in the military. You want to know the benefit of men being in the military? Well for one they don’t have to live with social stigma for the rest of their lives or go to prison. It’s like how the reward for not going to jail is being able to get a good job. You don’t say “I never went to jail and all I got was this shitty white collar job (that criminals could not hope to get).”

            You’re basically saying that the country should reward men for doing something they must legally do…sort of like expecting to get a check in the mail for not driving drunk. The payoff is that you don’t get arrested for driving drunk; you don’t get a reward for doing something you have to do.

            Basically, you are saying that there should be no compensation at all because men are only doing what is currently defined as their legal duty. Yes, not doing their legal duty without an approved reason is a crime. What about imposing that very legal duty on women as well then? I’m not saying it is practically the best solution but isn’t this a central point of the argument for equal duty?

          • holdingrabbits

            I think there should be compensation and pension benefits, I just don’t think you can say “Here are these great benefits for men that will put women at a disadvantage in the workplace” because I think there’s already plenty of that. I do think that they should follow Israel’s lead and require military service out of every citizen. I would go so far as to say that foreigners who wanted to become citizens should have to serve as well. Ultimately though, you either have to scrap mandatory military service and switch to a benefit system that helps those that served (which is impossible) or you need to make everyone do it…if for no other reason than to shut people up about how hard it is to be a man in Korea. Honestly, these people won’t be happy until women are wearing burqas and gps monitors.

          • Sam Chung

            1) Your logic: the school says I need to play football because I’m a man, but if I don’t want to I get expelled from school and don’t graduate, while women can graduate whether or not they play football. But I shouldn’t complain because it’s my duty to play for the school football team, and the school won’t punish me if I just follow their rules.

            Very convincing.

            2) Again: if there is sexism in the workplace, in military, or in anything else, solve the problem IN THOSE FIELDS (i.e. increase funding for programs for female-specific needs or create a reporting mechanism for reporting abuse and etc).

            And if there is sexism/reverse sexism in the military draft system, solve the problem there (i.e. draft both men and women)

            3) I’m not sure which decade your living in, but by and large Korean women aren’t actually forced to quit their jobs by their family because that would affect the man’s social reputation anymore. Much like in the US, the pressure is entirely SOCIAL. That is, women are EXPECTED to stay at home, whereas men clearly aren’t.

            It’s a tragedy that this is the case, and all household responsibilities should be 50/50. But the military conscription is a SPECIFIC POLICY while the problem of pervasive patriarchal norms are NOT SPECIFIC POLICY CONCERNS. That is, you cannot expect to remedy a SYSTEMIC issue with an extremely parochial and misguided policy that targets a specific social group, i.e. young males.

            The baseline for change should be: NO positive discrimination for males only and NO negative discrimination against males only, either. Then we need to talk about in what areas must the state direct its attention and formulate policies to tear down barriers for women.

            Talking about what female empowerment alone while we tie down young men to servitude is both counterproductive and unreasonable.

            The discrimination in Korean society and in the workforce may be a historical responsibility of the ROK government (a military dictatorship, may I remind you) but it is not the consequence of the intentions and policies of the post-1989, democratically elected governments. Those governments shouldn’t be expected to serve as agents to penalize men in favor of women, just to compensate for gender-biased policies that they did not themselves create but were rather forced on the population by the military dictatorships. They shouldn’t continue penalize men with military service, but rather they should formulate policies for women in workplace and in the home. But I guess our friends over at the Gender Equality ministry are too busy eating $30 a head “policy” luncheon over at Silla Hotel discussing how to gut the Korean video game industry.

            As for the pointless rant about entitlement, “taking our women”, and lusting over white tities, AGAIN, that is not the concern of the state. The ROK government did not tell the men to think those things. We’re here talking about the merits and flaws of a STATE policy, and whenever I talk about “psyche” or “injustice” I’m not talking about what selfish, entitled people that had everything handed to them bitch about, I’m SOLELY and SINGULARLY talking about what the EFFECTS OF GOVERNMENT POLICY can have on ITS MALE CITIZENS. You elevate yourself to an entirely different analytical plane, but we’re talking about government policy, not what you feel about Korean society or what people in the street feel.

            Your essentialist disdain for the “sensitive psyche” of Korean men is quite despicable and charged with dehumanizing gaze towards Korean men. I’m sorry if you feel that Korean men are chauvinist pigs and that they’re raging racist losers. I feel the same way about Korean men too, sometimes. But that disappointment in my fellow human does not compel me to imagine a caricature of Korean males and denigrate their humanity. Just because they may be harboring ignorant, misguided theories about the world, doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve consideration and that hey have to live with this society’s ills, just as women do. No matter how despicable the thoughts and practices of a certain group of people may be, your projection of a detached, middle class moral and cognitive superiority on to them is not justified. That is the definition of colonial gaze.

            And you must be living in a fairy tale world, if you think youth unemployment is not a problem in the ROK. 1) Not all young people live with their parents, some choose not to and some cannot because their parents are struggling themselves, and 2) why do you think young people live with their parents? Why moreover do you think more and more young people live with their parents after college in the US? Again: the job market is a very competitive one, especially in ROK. And any advantage accrued for Korean women, as the result of men slaving away for 2 years in the military, goes toward college-educated, middle to upper middle class women, not Korean women in general.

            Why must Korean men endure this? No reason at all. If there is discrimination in the workplace, AGAIN, don’t try to impose military service on men and eek out advantage but go to the CORE of the problem, that is, implement policies that force companies to give reasonable time off for pregnant women or women raising newly born or policies that force men to take on 50% responsibility like in Cuba or any given Scandanvian country. There is no sense imposing military service on men. And again, YOU CANNOT RIGHT A WRONG BY COMMITTING ANOTHER WRONG.

            4) No. When I say military service gives people advantage, I mean serving as NCOs and commissioned officers. Nobody gives a shit about people serving as enlisted men, not even in the US if you consider the respect and preference officers get in the workplace.

            And when men apply to be NCOs and officers in the ROK military, the ratio is much more than 1:6. Why? Because more men apply because they HAVE TO be in the military, while AGAIN women do not apply to the military because they DON’T HAVE TO. All in all, in the realm of the effects of military service: (1) Women get 2 years head start and (2) they can choose to be in military positions that matter more easily than men can.

          • holdingrabbits

            1) Your example is absurd because no school forces every male to play football. Not really a parallel here.

            2) I agree that everyone should be drafted.

            3) You make some great points and I agree with a lot of what you say, we just come down on the other side of the fence. To go back to the idea of affirmative action in America…it exists for a reason. If anyone thinks that there is no racism in America, they’re kidding themselves. I think that while the problem is a social problem, the state does have some responsibility to mold the populace into something better than it is…that is to say, black people have been oppressed for so long in American history and the effects still linger, so I don’t mind that universities aren’t allowed to be all white. In the end, it should be merit based…but when you take a look at how much money is given towards the education of children in mostly white areas compared to how much is given to areas with mostly black students, it’s despicable.

            Anyway, gender roles are reinforced in the home, society, and media, but in schools as well…with government money. Boys are treated differently than girls in the classroom by teachers with predefined social concepts. Even mixed kids are treated differently by the teachers. It’s bizarre to me that 3rd year middle schoolers didn’t understand why they shouldn’t hit women. It’s not only a function of sexism that states we shouldn’t hit women, it’s also an issue of strength comparison…you just don’t engage physically with people who are much weaker than you.

            These are social problems that need to be addressed by the state in order to be a more equitable society. As for the victim complex that Korean males often exhibit, it’s just whining, that’s why I can’t stand it. To me, if a man is complaining about how women trump their rights it says that they are completely thoughtless and oblivious to the world around them; they don’t see all the many ways that society is unfair to women. In fact, a lot of them will be the traditional “of course a woman should stay at home with children and not seek a career” people. I think that’s an ignorance worth being challenged.

            4) Dude, you did get preferred treatment in job hiring practices in the US if you were in the military. You are more likely to get a job (if you don’t have debilitating PTSD) simply because the government gives economic consideration to employers.

            At the end of the day, those 2 years don’t matter. Again, look at Korean society…even though women have notoriously had this 2 year head start for decades, Korean society is still male dominated in the business environment. Do you really think it’s anywhere close to equal? It sounds like you’re making an argument you know isn’t true when you talk about the 2 year head start. There’s a massive wage gap between men and women, women receive lower evaluation scores when they take maternity leave, men are promoted before women, and there are often limits to how far a woman can go in a company…do they still fire women when they get married here or was that just in the not so distant past? Come on, you have to see that there is no benefit to having a 2 year head start as a woman.

          • Sam Chung

            1) Well, in certain military schools in the US, they still force kids to play sports, regardless of their preference. And more importantly, I was getting at the parallel logic between your understanding of the draft system and forcing football on everyone.

            2) Agreed

            3) My point about affirmative action was that, by and large, it only benefits black Americans able to get to the college, meaning basically the black middle class. And little to no concern is given to the disaster that is K-12 public education in America that affects all kids, but especially black youth.

            The parallel with the male-only draft is that, by and large, majority of the benefits go towards college-educated Korean women. That’s because, as the result of decade of flawed developmentalist state planning, ROK has way too many college grads for a unsustainablely low number of jobs for them. While job hunting is hard at all income level, it is at the college-educated level that an additional 2 years comes in handy.

            And despite many “feminists” and some women’s claim that the draft should be kept male-only or that no benefits should be given to veterans because draft is a means of reducing gender gap, most benefit goes to a tiny fraction of women and the majority of Korean women wouldn’t careless

            As I’ve said, discrimination may happen in reality, but that’s not the result of clear and affirmative intention of the education ministry or the government in general to somehow target mixed race kids or female students. I know that much should be done to root out racist and sexist teachers and reform the system further. And some efforts have been made in this regard, and anyone who went through the public education system, including me, would agree that it has become drastically better in recent years, although much needs to be improved.

            I agree that the ideology of patriarchy pervades throughout Korean society, with everyone complicit in it.
            But my point is not that government shouldn’t implement female empowerment policies, but rather, that using the draft system to “correct” the gender inequality in Korean society is just so wrong. If schools let racist and sexist teachers and perpetuate gender and racial inequality, use your political capital to leverage the education ministry to be active about finding out imcompetent sexist teachers and fire them. Drafting men only to somehow foster gender equality? That’s just using the wrong tool for the job.
            (As for the kid who hit a girl, I’m pretty sure every young person in Korea with a right mind nowadays know that domestic violence is just wrong, and whereas in the past it might have been overlooked by family members and friends, people do report domestic violence and people do get prosecuted. As in any other country with some degree of gender equality, the problem in Korea now is that women themselves don’t choose to report for a myriad of reasons (others won’t believe it, others will think I’m a victim, it just sheds a bad light on my own life, or I just can’t report it), and number of widely publicized ways of reporting DV now exists in ROk (although inadequate). But I don’t think the problem is that people don’t understand the concept of domestic violence or why they shouldn’t beat on people not able to defend themselves. It’s the same reasons why DV still persists in even the most gender equal countries in the world.

            Again, I think many Korean men are just idiots with entitlement issues, but many other Korean men who exhibit grievance at the male-only draft system speak not only because of their entitlement mentality but also because the 2-year military service is a REAL and HEAVY burden that men are asked to endure for no apparent reason besides “Cuz it’s your duty” (Again, I’m not denying gender inequality in Korea, but rather questioning the effectiveness of negative discrimination against Korean men, and especially young Korean men yet to enter the workforce in one of the most competitive economies in the world). The best way to approach inequality issues isn’t to relentlessly and mercilessly shame and batter a certain group into coughing up benefits for other groups, but forcefully persuading the dominant group to accept the full and equal humanity of other groups. And while women’s retaliation against patriarchy is justified and urgently needed, essentialist rhetoric, such as all men are worthless or men should serve in the military because they’re different from us or some reasoning along that line, is counterproductive and only makes the dominant group to cling on to their advantages. (Everyone’s favorite example the Civil Rights movement didn’t triumph because black people told white crackers to fuck off. They did so because they used forceful moral suasion and relentless self-organizing demanding and inculcating black people’s full humanity to rest of America)

            4) I was speaking more from a baseline of benefits experienced by enlisted men vs officers. While you get many perks as veterans of all ranks, being an officer is infinitely beneficial because of the leadership component of the job.

            In ROK, being a enlisted men means fuck all to anyone. Every dude on the street is a veteran and that shit don’t count for anything. But women who join the military, they join as NCOs and officers, reaping the benefit of military service while avoiding wasting two years of their lives shoveling snow.

            And as for whether Korean economy is gender equal. It is obviously not.
            What I’m saying is that, you need to make a distinction between inequality BEFORE employment and inequality DURING employment. Clearly, after getting hired, men have much more opportunities to advance and don’t have to worry about maternity leaves and etc. But all I’m saying is that, the two year advantage women get BEFORE employment negatively and unjustly affects young men’s employment prospect. Part of the reason why female workforce participation has rapidly increased in ROK is because the male-only draft system essentially acts as a sort of affirmative action for women by eliminating competition and giving them extra time to prepare.
            What I suggest is that, eliminate inequality BEFORE employment and also try to come up with policies to improve women’s access to higher positions and ensure plentiful maternity benefits.

            (And you argue that Korea has been male dominant for years despite men being sent to serve. That’s because the male only draft is not the only factor in gender relations. Other aspects of Korean society has been liberalized in favor of women’s rights, but a same, outdated institution of male-only draft persists for no compelling reason.)

          • holdingrabbits

            I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong on a lot of this stuff. I guess what I’m wondering is how you’d go about changing Korea into a more equal society for gender (and maybe race, too). Men and women both have a lot of harsh things to say about each other in Korea…you know ilbe…anyway, pointing out a flaw is one thing, but offering a solution is far different. While I respect your ability to argue this issue, the complaint only keeps the status quo and doesn’t offer an alternative.

          • Sam Chung

            My intention wasn’t necessarily to try to damn your stance on this issue.

            It is just irritating to see a vocal minority among women take their rhetoric against men in general way too far, and many people simply accept it for the sake of PC or for some other reason.

            And a perplexing side effect of patriarchy is that the ideology that while women must be “controlled” also co-exists with an idea that women also simultaneously must be”protected”. While the latter part is not necessarily false (women for instance need extra protection against DV or sexual assault b/c they’re obviously more prone to be targeted in such crimes), it breeds a contradictory system where women can be oppressed by men but also selfishly reap certain tactical advantages vis-a-vis their relations with men. You can think of the whole idea that men “should” pay for dinner or that men should do this and this for women and such, for no apparent reason. Of course, an added problem is that men (like those on Ilbe) like to caricature women as money-grubbing whores, and they would be wrong because obviously most women would be like that. But a vocal and visible minority flaunts their ability to take advantage of men, and that’s not helpful to the cause

            And such “entitlement”–if you will–claimed by women is ironically an extension of patriarchy (that is, men are breadwinners and women stay at home and receive stuff from men, and men are in charge and women depend on the men). It is the result of decades if not centuries of inculcation of patriarhcal gender ideology. Women cannot claim to stand against patriarchy while still confine themselves within the bounds of patriarchy.

            And it is more galling because such attitudes are expressed most often by college-educated women (and especially the “feminist” elites within the government), the group that experiences least amount of sexism among all women. Failure of such people to recognize their class privilege is astonishing.

            I see military service along the same line of logic. Men have to serve in the military and women do not–but why? While women experience gender inequality and that inequality must be rectified, I don’t see a convincing way forward while we–both men and women–confine ourselves to an outdated gender ideology.

  • lonetrey / Dan

    I don’t want to talk about whether the male soldiers are right or wrong in this situation, nor do I want to address whether it’s appropriate or not appropriate for female enlisters to handle the situation as describe.

    The only thought I had in my mind is, “Oh my, … so this is what people feel like when they have gender inequality in a workplace.”

    Seems to me that there’s a bigger issue here that can be applied to a more global context, and that the parties involved in this article do a very good job at painting the emotions and responses that comes with the territory of gender inequality in a workplace.

    Also, the responses and emotions may or may not come from different corresponding genders in other places/situations.

  • Ryan Kim

    Being a solider, especially out in combat, is different than a regular job. There are close quarters and I just don’t think it’s appropriate to put people who might have a sexual attraction to each other that close together in such a serious situation. It’s one thing if Pam and Frank hook up in the copy room and the copies don’t make it to the editor on time. It’s another thing if Pam and Frank hook up in the battle field and the enemy gets past them. I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, BUT I just feel having the opposite sex working together in ANY field can be distracting and NOTHING should be distracting on the battefield.

    Also, men have a lot harder time handling seeing a woman get shot, stabbed, killed, etc. It can greatly effect their moral.

  • chucky3176

    On a somewhat related note:

    A while back at Koreabang, there was a topic of why Korean women’s right came in 111th place out of 135 nations of the world. One of the criteria of the ranking was the difference between men and women in education. Korea scored a very miserable rating in this regard, as the stats suggested that Korean women were being left behind men in higher level of education. I argued that this is ludicrous, that more women now attend university than men, and that there is no discrimination against women in education in Korea. I scratched my head on how they came up with the stats. Well today I learned an important information that actually explains why this is the case. And it appeared in this article in the Chosun Ilbo today.


    If you scroll down to near the bottom, this paragraph appears:

    “대학취학률은 대학 재학기간으로 산출한다. 우리나라는 남자의 군복무 기간 2~3년을 전부 대학 재학기간에 포함한다. 그러므로 재학기간이 6~7년으로 늘어난다. 외국의 경우는 군 모병제를 하는 나라가 많은 데다 군복무 기간이 평균적으로 짧다.
    그러니 대학 재학기간이 우리나라보다 짧게 나온다. 대학취학률은 2010년 통계를 썼음에도 한국에 불리하게 측정되는 요소다.”

    Korean males of age must serve in the military for 2 years. But if they are university students, they have the option to put off the studies for two to three years, serve in the military, then come back and finish university. So typically, those Koreans who choose this option, end up in the statistics, as having studied for six to seven years in total. Of course, this means that on paper, Korean males end up studying far more than Korean females – thus the huge difference in education, on paper – and skewing the results.

    The Korean women’s organization concurred, and stated that the world rankings on equality of women, does not include Korea’s situation concerning military duties by men included into the study time period.

    But in terms of inequality in economic participation and political participation, this paper says Korea has no excuses. There’s a big income disparity between men and women in Korea. Also, only 15% of the government seats belong to women (an all time high for Korea), but most top OECD countries in northern Europe where inequality is the lowest, have over 40% as women.

  • Anon

    Korean woman are tough as is but a Korean woman in the militarily is just frightening. Freedom to choose. More power to em.

  • That’s marvelous

    Funny how she lists all those things that apparently make her qualified for a good job, EXCEPT her actual study subject.

  • Sunkyo

    Wow even though it’s my country, I’m so ashamed that there is still discrimination in the recruiting process in companies…. On the outside, it looks like we leaped from postwar ruins of the 50s to our big economy of today, but inside, society is still highly polarized between the rich and the poor. There is no middle class. And our political system is still broken, and equality still has a long way to go to really be like US or Europe. And besides, why is our army so big compared to other branches of armed forces? What country focuses on ground forces like we do? Especially in a country where 3 sides are met by sea and most of the country is mountainous? That’s just plain stupid. What we need to do is bolster our Air Force and Navy more… There are lots of news that pretty much all North Korean troops are underfed, which means physically South Korean soldiers have obviously a much better odds against them in combat. And if the North already has nukes all ready to go in case of war, shouldn’t we have much better coverage of our own airspace through stronger air force? And Navy to blockade their waters? Just a thought….

    • Sam Chung

      It’s because the 주적 of the ROK military, both in official doctrine and reality, is still NK.

      You’re not gonna win a war with NK with a strong navy and air force alone, when their ground forces are strong and their navy and AF are nonexistent.

      • David

        True, NK doctrine has not changed much in the last 50 years. Lots of poorly fed/trained conscripts=shock troops to absorb the initial brunt and try to overwhelm the opposition. Then send in better fed/trained troops to do the real fighting. I do agree that a strong Air force is needed (really the U.S. has a stronger offensive navy then you will ever actually need, so spend your money where it works best) especially for protracted fighting and for slowing the blunt of any attack towards Seoul but I may be biased as I served two tours in Korea in the U.S. Air Force.

        • Sam Chung

          I agree with you too. Especially given the (possible) nature of future conflict in East Asia.

          But as of now, ROK AF’s strength overwhelms NKAF, both in terms of strike capabilities and technological capabilities. The only real, vitally needed upgrade is replacing the obsolete F-5s that routinely crash and kill pilots. That’s needed b/c countering NKAF won’t require the cutting edge F-35 or F-22 but a massive number of fixed wing fighter jets capable of intercepting decaying Soviet-era jets or lightweight bombing aircrafts.

          The whole mess over the next generation fight jet is really show that ROK military top brass’s extreme farsightedness, looking waaay too deep into the future and not seeing the actual threat present in front of our faces, i.e. NK.

          • David

            This is true, I think the F-15s (single pilot interceptors and the two seat attack ‘D’ model) and F-16s we are currently replacing would find a nice home in Korea. In addition, (from a pragmatic and economic view point), that would allow McDonnell Douglas ad General Dynamics to keep all those jobs going instead of closing the plants that make these planes and their components.

          • Sam Chung

            I would like to see that too, especially b/c F-15s and F-16s are already used by the ROKAF anyways. Even in future conflicts with PRC or other countries, both jets would stand up quite well against PRC’s fighter jets, most of which are still decaying second gen and older third gen fighter jets.

            But I think the “visionary” ROKAF leadership would rather pour all their savings into buying 20-30 fancy F-35s, rather than thinking about replacing F-5s (sigh)

          • David

            Unfortunately I agree with you, they probably would. The F-35 is not the best bang for the buck for the ROKAF.

          • guest

            i hear the f 22’s and f35’s are shiite. when it rains it doesn’t work and pilots have been complaining about the dangers of these new generation fighters.

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