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Guardians of the Land, Sea and AirWays to serve in the military of the Republic of Korea
Hong You-kyoung  |  aliceykhong@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2016.10.06  00:58:58
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OCTOBER 1st is Armed Forces Day, a day to commemorate the service of men and women in the ROK Armed Forces. South Korea men are required by the government to serve in the military,and this article lists the options they are given as to their exact service.
 
Types and missions of troops
1) Active service
Ground Force Army
- Number of personnel: Approximately 560,000, withits core equipment including tanks, artilleries and armored vehicles
- Main objective: To repel North Korean attacks by land, sea and air; to guard major facilities and coastlines; to manage reserve forces and material for wartime mobilization
- Mission by Command
The First and Third Army Command: To defend the region of South Korea reaching from the DMZ to the Seoul area, mainly in response to any possible sudden attacks or high-speed mobile warfare launched by North Korea
The Second Field Army Command: To defend the entire rear area, including the coastline
The Special Warfare Command: To perform tasks such as collecting intelligence, locating North Korean targets and serving other designated tasks
The Capital Defense Command: To maintain the security of Seoul and protect its infrastructure
- Length of service: 21 months
Marine Corps
- Number of personnel: Approximately 29,000. Affiliated with the Navy
- Main objective: To attack, if necessary, North Korea’s coastline from the sea or ground landing sites; to accomplish missions such as ground battles, special fighting scenarios, facility protection and security services
- Mission: Take charge of landing operations, accomplished in collaboration with the Navy, which provides landing parties aboard landing crafts, fleets and aircraft. Whenever there is a call for duty, the Marine Corps strives to be as responsive as an emergency rescue.
- Length of service: 21 months
 
Navy
- Number of personnel: Approximately 70,000
- Main objectives: To establish autonomous naval forces to deter war; to secure maritime superiority to win in any possible war; to promote national interests through the protection of maritime activities
- Mission: Responsible for conducting naval operations and amphibious landing operations
- Length of service: 23 months
 
Air Force
- Number of personnel: Approximately 65,000
- Main objectives: To acquire air superiority and thus prevent North Korean forces from flying over South Korea; to destroy by air attack, in the event of war, North Korean facilities support their military operations
- Mission: To conduct air support training in order to assist South Koreanground and naval forces, including training using night vision goggles and the ground force scientific training field
- Length of service: 24 months
 
2) Complementary Services
National Police Agency
- Number of personnel: Approximately 14,800 per year
- Mission: To perform counterespionage operations; to work in neighborhood patrols; to control public protests and demonstrations; to maintain traffic order
- Length of service: 21 months
 
Korea Coast Guard
- Number of personnel: Approximately 1,300 per year
- Mission: To guard territorial waters; to prevent ocean contamination; to control marine transportation; to rescue people from sinking.
- Length of service: 23 months
 
Conscripted Firefighter Agency
- Number of personnel: Approximately 320 per year
- Mission: To rescue victims in emergency situations; agencyadministration
- Length of service: 23 months
 
3) Alternative Service
Full-time Reservists
- Work in the facilities of the Military Manpower Administrations (MMA)*
- Qualifications: Selected from the regional MMA
- Length of service: 24 months,commuting from home to work.
 
Embarking Reservists
- Number of personnel: Approximately 1,000
- Main objective: In wartime, or in other states of emergency reservists contribute in transporting armaments and daily necessities
- Qualifications: Should have a navigator or engine driver’s license in a ship/vessel of shipping or fishing industries
- Length of service: 36 months
 
*Military Manpower Administration: One of the military organizations in South Korea, run under the Ministry of National Defense. Its duties concern conscription, call-up, management of military service resources and other military administration.
 
Dictionary of frequently used terms related to the military
- A deul gun beon: A soldier that has a one-year difference in the length of military service in comparison with another soldier
- BX or PX: Supermarket that sells snacks, frozen meals and even basic necessities. “Base Exchange” for Ground Force Army; “Post Exchange” for Air Force; “Port Exchange” for the Navy and Marine Corps.
- Eui-moo-dae: Hospital inside a military base
- Il mal sang cho: The tough period of separation for the male soldier and his girlfriend
- Jjam: Total numberof meals eaten during militaryservice. In other words, it refers to how long a soldier has been in military service.
- Jjam-tiger: A cat living among the soldiers; often eats leftover food from the troops
- Ssa-jae: Goods that are commonly used in the society but largely out of reach for the military
- Ssa-ji-bang: The literal meaning in Korean is “cyber knowledge information room” – a computer lab in for soldiers to use
- Yeong-chang: Militaryprison. Soldiers are sent to yeong-chang when they violate military laws. The days spent in yeong-chang do not count toward the requiredlength of service.
- Gom-shin: A soldier’s girlfriend
 
   This is a shortened version of go-moo-shin, which literally means “rubber shoes” that were commonly worn during the era of the Joseon Dynasty.
   To grasp the term go-moo-shin, one should first understand a related term, in this case an idiom: “wearing a go-moo-shin backwards”, which means breaking a relationship by dating somebody else. As the story goes, in the past, when war occurred and the husband was sent to the battlefield for a long period, his wife would give up waiting for him and form a new family with another man. However, when the “already-thought-to-be-dead” husband finally came back home after a lengthy war, the wife was so surprised that she would quickly run away wearing her rubber shoes backwards.
   Another hypothesis is that when a woman wants to run away from her marriage because she is having an affair with another man, she usually wears the go-moo-shin backwards in an attempt to make her footsteps appear to be heading in the direction toward home rather than running away from home.

   A more hopeful bit of folklore regarding go-moo-shin suggests that when the husband returns from war, the excited wife runs out to greet him without realizing she has put her shoes on backwards. 

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