Updated July. 09, 2014 02:21
Discipline in the South Korean military is sloppy at best. Two days prior to the occurrence of a firing spree at a frontline outpost that left five innocent soldiers killed, an incident occurred in the western frontline, in which North Korean soldiers approached a guard post of the South Korean military within the demilitarized zone, and took away a guiding bell. The guiding bell had been installed at barbed wire fence in front of guard posts to enable North Korean military defectors to contact the South Korean military. The South Korean military has become mockery during daytime within the DMZ where the two Koreas are in constant standoff, but the Defense Ministry hid the incident for more than 15 days. The North Korean troops who robbed the South Korean military of the bell are reportedly members of the Norths elite unit. In the South Korean military, it is considered ironclad rule that while failure in operation can be forgiven, failure in guarding cannot. Still worse, the South Korean military even hid failure in guarding, which has completely dismantled the basics of the military.
At the military outpost in the eastern frontline area where the shooting spree occurred, the outpost chief and first lieutenant, identified by his last name Kang, ran away to a nearby outpost soon after the incident. It is beyond belief that the onsite commander who should lead recovery of the situation scrambled to run away, deserting his own men. As Kang, who was in charge of guns and ammunition dumps management, ran away, soldiers faced chaotic situation, before barely managing to break the lock and arm themselves. Just to think what would have happened if armed North Korean spies, instead of the troubled gunman, entered the outpost causes sense of horror in us.
The defection of a North Korean via the South Korean Island of Baengnyeong in the Yellow Sea on Thursday last week also constitutes typical failure in guarding. The North Korean who arrived in Baengnyeong by a wooden boat, walked to a guard post of the South Korean Marines and sought his defection. The fact the South Korean military did not recognize his defection until the defector arrived at the guard post cannot be excused with such argument that "the visibility was poor due to rain." On the next day of his inauguration last Tuesday, Defense Minister Han Min-koo visited Yeonpyeong Island, where he vowed by saying, The military has been maintaining the concept to strike back with vengeance not only the origin of provocation in the North, but also its supporting forces and command to counter any attack by Pyongyang, adding, If provocation like the artillery attack on the Yeonpyeong Island (in 2010) occurs again, we will punish as we have warned. But how can the South Korean military afford to block the Norths surprise attacks, with its armed forces with a flurry of loopholes?
The entire military ranging from the top echelon to rank and file soldiers should change their mindset and renew commitment. If soldiers go easy on principle, South Korea cannot establish a winning military in combat, even if it arms the military with all different high-tech weapons by investing more than 30 trillion won (29.7 billion U.S. dollars) per year.