[EDITORIALS]The Lady Wears a StarThe promotion of Colonel Yang Seung-sook, chief of the Army Nurse Corps, to brigadier general finally satisfied the cherished desire of the women's community. In April, the first female vice minister was named; that is the top position to which public servants can be promoted. Then followed the appointment of Korea's first woman general in the 51-year history of its Women's Army Corps. This year will be remembered as the one when authorities lifted discrimination against women.
The women's community has demanded more opportunities in the military for a long time. They demanded that women be provided with equal opportunity with men for promotion to flag rank. Based on those efforts, the air force academy began accepting women in 1996; the naval and military academies followed suit in 1997 and 1998. The first female fighter jet pilot and naval vessel staff member emerged this year. Therefore, promotion to general officer ranks was the last barricade against women in the all-male bastion of the military.
With her promotion, there will be more opportunities for military women. It is a message of hope not only for our 2,400 women soldiers but for all aspirants to the Women's Army Corps.
As information and high technology became decisive factors in modern warfare, the military has emphasized diversified specialties in recruiting soldiers. Fortunately, the Defense Ministry plans to increase the number of female soldiers to 5,400 by 2010 and 7,000 by 2020.
The ministry should also, as women's groups have demanded, allow women to join the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and should create an office to oversee its policy on women in the military. We need systemic measures to use them well.
Creating diversified army branches that women soldiers can join, reinforcing gender equality in education and developing ways for women soldiers to handle careers and families at the same time should also be considered.
We greet the naming of our first woman general with applause; we await new successes by women in the combat arms and hope the stars will continue to appear in the sky.