[FOUNTAIN]Weapons and rewards

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[FOUNTAIN]Weapons and rewards

In almost all fields there are people who have not been rewarded or recognized despite their remarkable achievements involving the development of state-of-the-art products, while others have made great profits from the inventions. One example in the world of arms development is a Russian, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919- ).

In 1941, during World War II, Mr. Kalashnikov decided to develop a new rifle for Soviet soldiers, after being wounded in a battle with the Germans. Following years of hard work, Mr. Kalashnikov's new weapon was designated the standard rifle of the Soviet army in 1947. The weapon was the AK-47, short for "automatic Kalashnikov, 1947."

More than 70 million AK-47s have been sold in more than 50 countries. The AK-47 was known for its use in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the 1981 assassination of the Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and in various civil wars in the Third World. Mr. Kalashnikov never received monetary royalties. Some recognition came in 1993, when then President Boris Yeltsin promoted Mr. Kalashnikov to major general and awarded him a special pension.

Mikhail Iosifovich Gurevich (1892-1976), also a Russian, is another example of someone not being credited with his own invention. The MiG, a world-famous aircraft, is an abbreviation of Mikoyan-Gurevich, the last names of the plane's two designers, Artem Ivanovich Mikoyan and Gurevich. Gurevich majored in mathematics and was interested in aircraft development. He and Mikoyan began to develop new airplanes in 1939 and their technology won the approval of Josef Stalin. At the request of the Soviet Union, they designed and produced a whole range of jet fighters. The MiG-15 is well-known as the fighter that surprised U.S. forces in the Korean War. At that time, the United States insisted that its F-86 Saber was stronger, but most analysts say the MiG-15 was.

Because Mikoyan was a member of the Communist Party, he was promoted to an executive of the political bureau and enjoyed various benefits. Gurevich, who declined to enter the Party, received only commendations.

In the world of arms development today, those who are being duped could be buyers of weapons rather than developers and sellers. There is heated debate over Korea's fighter plane procurement project, code-named "F-X." The debate is worrisome, but it is a reflection of public concern for transparency and fairness in the selection. The government should remember that the F-X is a 4-trillion-won ($3 billion) project.



The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Nok Jae-hyun

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