[Letter to the editor]Men who serve deserve a rewardThere has been recently quite a discussion about the issue of giving extra credit to men who have served in the military when they take civil service exams.
The Constitutional Court of Korea ruled the practice unconstitutional a few years ago and it was stopped. However, many civic organizations and citizens are calling for the system to be revived. And of course, the restoration of the credit must be reconsidered.
Those who are against the policy, most of whom are women, assert that it is unfair to give the credit only to men, because women also serve the government by having babies. True. Having babies is also a sacred responsibility. But I hear labor unions are demanding the extension of the legal maternity leave from 90 days to 180 days. Isn’t that also a form of discrimination?
Society asks men to take care of babies, too! Fatherhood is a responsibility; men also deserve 180 days! Would this be logical to women?
Why is it, when the Republic of Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world, that Korean women are so busy serving their responsibilities?
Compensation is for those who have done their responsibility by sacrificing. Men who have served in the military deserve it, just as women who have babies deserve it.
The United States is one of the countries noted for a fine policy concerning military service. Unlike South Korea, the United States has a voluntary system of military service. Soldiers in the United States are paid. I’m talking about real wages, not the tiny allowance that Korean soldiers receive. Even so, the government of the United States gives numerous benefits to veterans. They have the highest priority when applying for a government job. How about Korea? Men sacrifice their valuable youth, which could have been used for their own development, in order to serve the nation. Is a 2-point credit on a civil service exam too much to ask for?
Some opposing groups maintain there is no need for it, that military service is a sacred responsibility. It is something people should do without asking anything in return; men should just be satisfied and feel proud to serve the nation, they say. But if it is so sacred, why is exemption from service considered a prize? Win a medal in the Olympics and you get an exemption from the military as a prize. In extreme cases, the exemption is considered a mark of social prestige. If service is sacred, why do so many people try to avoid it?
Military service is a sacrifice. People sacrifice their youth for the time they serve. In that time those who do not have to serve in the military, including women, can study, among other things. Serving is important since our country is still [technically] at war. Is a little respect too much to ask? If men could study in those two years, they can get much more than the 2-point credit.
We must be fair. Fairness means not just giving equal treatment, but being treated right.
Kang Yoon-seung, a freshman at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies