Postechian Column: For the Fairer Military Service
Postechian Column: For the Fairer Military Service
  • Lee Ji Seon (CHEM 14)
  • 승인 2016.12.07 11:02
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Last May, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that they would abolish almost all alternative services for military service, including the Technical Research Personnel (TRP), in phases. Because MND did not understand advantages of TRP system well and its plan was ridiculously tight, many people and organizations including research focused colleges like POSTECH, Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), and Ministry of Education (MOE) strongly opposed to the MND’s plan. MND, faced with great opposition, announced that nothing was determined and that it had not shown any additional movement. Although many people are relieved at the moment, the issue made me think about general military service issues.
 Today, the Republic of Korea implements a draft system. Men over 18 have a duty to serve in the military for 21 months (in the case of army). According to my friend’s words, who already served in the military, MND regards soldiers as “manual workers whose hourly wage is only a few hundred won.” Last August, a soldier was injected with disinfection ethanol instead of contrast agent for CT imaging in an armed forces hospital, resulting in a paralysis of his left arm, which was a good example that MND treated soldiers as workers not humans. Thanks to the soldier’s commitment (or sacrifice), everyone can enjoy their live without the fear of war. However, is it right that the current system forces the sacrifice of a particular group (men in their 20s)? We must make reasonable compensation for their sacrifice, or broaden the range of draft, thereby sharing the burden.
 The former corresponds to volunteer military. If we adopted it, we could compensate soldiers better for their sacrifice. At the same time, we could improve the recognition of MND about soldiers because they would no longer be “manual workers whose hourly wage is only a few hundred wons.” The main reason for objection to volunteer military is that we will need a huge amount of additional budget. I think that the people who spend 21 months inefficiently in the military will find their adequate places in society and will make enough economic output, to outrun the additional budget, but that is not the essence. Even if society gets net extra burden due to conversion, it should be done. It is meaningless to pursue prosperity by forcing a particular group to suffer.
The latter corresponds to drafting women. It is a method that doubles the object of military service to share the burden of the present soldiers. Actually, some countries, including Israel, have started drafting women. If we cannot afford to pay a fair price for sacrifice, it is better for everyone to sacrifice. If effectiveness of a women’s combat power is suspected, there are  many ways to solve it. For example, it is possible to assign women to non-combat units. The point is giving women the same duty as men.
Of course, both methods will have a lot of practical difficulties to implement. But today’s draft system is one of the biggest moral issues our society is facing. This is not a matter of profit or loss. This is a matter of right and wrong.