First multicultural officers in training
By Kim Susan Se-jeong
The Army will produce its first non-multiracial officers next month.
Cadets Bae Jun-hyeong, 22, and Han Gi-yeop, 21, are in training at the Korea Army Training Center, and set to become non-commissioned officers on July 4 after completing a 12-week training period.
“Since I had to enlist, I thought it’d be better to do it early on,” said Bae, who confessed that he dreamt of becoming a soldier after seeing one on a soap opera in his childhood. After high school graduation, he wasted no time in applying to become a non-commissioned officer after consulting his father and Vietnam-born mother.
On the other hand, Han, whose mother is from Japan, started thinking about enlisting after graduating high school.
“I was debating on how to make use of my qualifications and thought of the Army,” said Han, who has earned eight certificates, including six in operating heavy equipment like forklifts and excavators, during his years at a vocational high school. “I’ll be able to make good use of them when I become a non-commissioned officer.”
Both cadets plan to offer their first salaries as travel expenses for their mothers to visit their home countries. They have been commended for their discipline and enthusiasm and hope to become “respectable examples for the soldiers.”
Currently, the Korean Army has no non-commissioned officers of multiracial descent, but there are soldiers with multicultural backgrounds; 179 in the Army, nine in the Air Force and five in the Navy.
On top of weekly face-to-face discussions, the Army is looking for new systems to help the increasing number of multiracial soldiers adapt to a new environment.