Published on August 10th, 2012 | by Kim Dong-Hun0
Getting Drafted: My Experience in the ROK Army
By 8ball aka Kim Dong-hun
As most know, all Korean men are obligated to serve in the military, be it in the Army, Navy, or Air Force. Korean society believes this is the duty of a male Korean citizen, so long as he is physically and mentally sound.
When men are assumed to be ready for military life, typically in their early 20s, they are given a thorough physical examination at the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) to ensure they are fit to serve. However, some of them try to dodge the military draft by failing this check-up; they place numerous tattoos on their bodies, pull out some of their teeth, or pretend to be mentally unstable. There are also some young men who use their personal connections to evade the draft; they’re often called “sons of God.” You can probably guess why.
I didn’t fall into that category, but then I didn’t try to dodge the draft anyway. Because I have terrible eyesight, I tried to cheat on my eyesight test, learning what was written on the test board so I could be deemed fit to serve.
I really have no idea what inspired me to do so, but I have never regretted the decision. As a result, I served as a Korean Army [Representative] to the US Army [KATUSA] for 26 months, from 2001 – 2003. As a KATUSA, I got to experience life in both of the forces protecting my country: the ROK Army and the US Army. I became quite physically fit and learned a lot. It was also an honor working for my country.
There were downsides, too. I was stuck in the Army in the heyday of my youth. It interrupted my college education, delaying my graduation and entry into the workforce. And even if I was given a chance to turn back time, I would never go back to when I was in the boot camp. I wasn’t allowed to use the latrine, take a shower, sleep, or rest unless I was told to do so. It was a robot’s life.
Ultimately, though, I think it is a duty all Korean men should observe. So, if you’re one, don’t be afraid – man up! The two years will elapse quickly and you will become a better person during them, physically and mentally. Go ahead! The country wants YOU!
These are just my opinions. If you have any ideas, thoughts, or opinions, then please share them with me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was edited by C. Adam Volle.