Monday, June 27, 2011

Fearing the Future

“Coward: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.”
--Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary
Only 19.5% of 2,500 Korean teenagers responded that "they would fight" in the case of another war in Korea. The story, in today's Korea Herald, suggested that the survey, conducted by Korea Advanced Youth Association and Teengora media, means that Korean students are not "patriotic". I think it depends on how you define patriotism. It has come to mean to many of us a mindless spouting of nationalistic platitudes, and by that definition Korean teens are just as patriotic as American ones.
Meanwhile, in another survey conducted by Chungcheongbuk-do Office of Education, about 37.6 percents of male teenagers replied “yes” to the question concerning their willingness to join the army in case of war.
The study revealed a high gap between genders, as 5.9 percents of female replied positively to the same question.
Another 32.7 percents of boys said they would assist their nation indirectly, making total of 70.3 percents to involve in the war.
What I don't quite understand here is how this question is relevant in face of the fact that Korea has compulsory military service for males. These teenage boys are required by law to perform military service of about two years by the time they reach age 28.

My experience with them, in fact, is that they have three main "fears" in their lives, in this order: 1) their score on the Korean SAT; 2) their military service; and 3) girls.

In a happy coincidence, the JoongAng Daily has a story about a Korean man who was AWOL for 16 years being given a "second chance."
Lee deserted the Army in 1994 due to his grief and confusion following the death of his parents in a traffic accident.
It is hard for a deserter to live a normal life in Korea because every organization is required to cooperate to find runaways.
There is no statute of limitations for the crime, which the military calls a “violation of the order.”
Lee has not publicly disclosed how he lived during his 16 years AWOL.
He turned himself in and was sentenced to, drumroll, please... twenty-four months of military service. And now, at thirty-seven, he is the oldest rank and file soldier in the Army.

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