Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Korean Women's ROTC Program Established


The Chosun Ilbo wrote an editorial titled "Glass Ceiling in the Military Must Be Shattered":
The Defense Ministry has chosen Sookmyung Women's University as Korea's first university to operate the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program for women, and six of the universities with the ROTC program for men are allowed to take in five female cadets from this year. The first group of female ROTC cadets will be commissioned into service in 2013.
The ministry plans to expand the number of commissioned female officers from the current 4.3 percent (3,111 officers) to 7.7 percent over the next 10 years, while increasing the number of non-commissioned female officers from 2.9 percent (3,051 officers) to 5.5 percent. Women account for 16 percent of the officers in the U.S. military, 8.1 percent in the U.K. and 13 percent in France. 
These statistics are interesting, but maybe misleading.  The other Western military powers mentioned are all volunteer armies.  Whereas, every male in South Korea has to join the military.  Women in South Korea are exempted and therefore it only makes sense that they would account for such a smaller percentage.  If anything, I am shocked the number of female officers now is as high as 4.3 percent.

I have attended job fairs and graduate fairs in the United States and military recruiters are desperate for officer applicants with specialty skills in computers, languages, or medicine.  I am sure that is why it is so high in the United States.  Simple demand for highly skilled people (regardless of their gender) has led to that high of a percentage.
The Korean military must open its doors further to qualified women to keep abreast of the growing importance of technology, computers, automated systems and communications networks in the military. As of 2008, women accounted for 42 percent of 894,987 public servants. The Air Force Academy admitted its first female cadet in 1997 and the Military and Navy academies followed suit in 1998 and 1999. At first, there was skepticism over the moves, but the graduation of skilled female officers has brought new vigor to the military. 
Really?  "abreast"?  Was that a coincidental pun or not?
Korea's birthrate stands at only 1.15 children. That is the lowest in the world and leads to a decline in the number of eligible male recruits, triggering intense debate over whether to lengthen or shorten mandatory military service. The women’s ROTC program could offer a solution to this manpower dilemma. 
But the government should look at more than numbers if female officers are to present genuine solutions. It must let female officers harbor big aspirations. 
In the U.S., Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody became the first female four-star generals as commanding general for the Army Material Command in 2008. But Korea has seen only five female generals in its military history since a nursing commander became the country's first female general in 2002. They were all from the nursing corps and reached no rank higher than major general. The only current active-duty female general is the president of the Armed Forces Nursing Academy. If women are to become part of the core of our military, the glass ceiling must be shattered so that they can become generals in combat and other commands too.
Korea's female soldiers mark 60 years of service this year. The new milestones will mark new achievements for the entire military.
I agree with this editorial.  But one thing about South Korea that makes them different from western powers is that they do not see the genders as equal yet.  They do not even pretend in the slightest.  Women in South Korea still have an American 1950's image expected of them.  They have to do all the cooking, cleaning, childcare, and are expected to look good all the time and baby their husbands when they get home from work.  Despite knowing how women in the western world have socially evolved since then, Korean women still do it.  They wear the heels.  They give up their careers to be stay at home moms.  They cook.  They clean.  They become their husband's second mother.  This is still a patriarchal society and it is socially expected for men to be favored over women in almost every way.

There is no reason military service cannot be required for every man and women in South Korea.  This is already the case countries like Israel.  Military service could then perhaps be reduced for everyone down to fifteen or even twelve months.  It would make more citizens combat trained and better prepared in the event the North ever tried something.

I found this video, there are a few pictures of female special forces.  I am sure these women know how to kill me just as fast as any Korean man in the special forces:


1 comment:

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