In youth is valorA 19-year-old Korea University student Choi Joon-shik explained why he volunteered for the toughest reconnaissance unit in the ROK Marine Corps. “After North Korea’s latest attack against Yeonpyeong Island, I thought our territory is not a safe zone anymore. So I decided to do some meaningful job before others do,” he said. “From the beginning, I wanted to serve in the Marine Corps. In the wake of the North’s aggression, however, my parents were increasingly worried about my decision. But I couldn’t change my mind so I chose to serve in the Marines to help protect my country.”
Despite the North’s bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island, which left two Marines dead, the number of volunteers like Choi for the ROK Marine Corps increased by a big margin, rather than decreasing, this year. We are really proud of them as it symbolizes the unflinching loyalty and courage of our youth to confront whatever security crisis our nation may face in the future.
According to statistics by the Military Manpower Administration, the Marine Corps had planned to recruit a total of 971 volunteers. But 3,400 aspirants applied for the service, with the competition rate amounting to 3.5-to-one, a whopping 40 percentage increase compared to last year’s rate of 2.6-to-1. The reconnaissance unit, in particular, recorded the highest competition rate of 21-to-one, even though it is notorious for its tough training and operations.
As a matter of fact, the Marine Corps has been instrumental in arousing our youths’ pride as epitomized by the famous catchphrase of “Once a marine, always a marine,” along with its unparalleled discipline. Therefore, that branch has hardly had a problem in recruiting. But this time it was different. Rather than being daunted by the deaths of Marines in Yeonpyeong, young men were stimulated to volunteer. This reflects the changed attitudes of a young generation armed with a strong sense of loyalty and responsibility for the security of the nation.
As long as our young generation is full of patriotism and responsibility, our country’s future is bright. Encouraged by their unflinching courage to confront whatever crisis occurs down the road, we should do our best to fortify our national defense. We would like to give our heart-felt applause to all those volunteers to the Marine Corps at a critical moment like this.