Marine Corps enjoys increase in applicants
There were 3.57 times more applicants for Marine jobs available from Dec. 1 to Dec. 13, the highest rate in the last two years, the Military Manpower Administration said on Monday.
The reconnaissance unit, known for its grueling training and dangerous operations, was the most popular unit selected among new applicants, with an applicant-to-opening ratio of 21-to-1.
The phenomenon is quite different from what the Marine Corps saw in the aftermath of the Cheonan incident in March.
The number of those who volunteered for the service plummeted, going from 3.4-to-1 in March to 1.8-to-1 in April, 2-to-1 in May and 1.6-to-1 in June.
The application period in December started eight days after the Yeonpyeong attack, when the Marine Corps posted positions for 977 marines. About 3,500 volunteers rushed to apply for the service.
The young marines-to-be did not hesitate to mention a sense of duty as well as their concern for national security when asked about their reasons for wanting to join up.
One such volunteer is a 19-year-old Korea University student named Choi Joon-shik, who applied for the reconnaissance unit.
“After North Korea’s latest attack, I realized my country is in a dangerous situation,” Choi said. “And someone must defend the nation. I have thought about the fact that the North could attack while I am serving in the military or, even, that I could die. But I will defend my country. I do not want to die in vain even if war breaks out.”
Choi stood strong on his decision, saying, “a country’s history cannot be protected without sacrifice.”
The youth’s response surprised some in the military. “We were worried that applications would drop due to the Yeonpyeong incident,” said one Marine Corps official. “Rather, the ratio of cancellations was lower than last year.”
Baek Seung-joo, director of the Center for Security and Strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, described the phenomenon as the nation “evolving into a model of patriotism of an advanced country.”
Said Baek: “The rising number of applicants for the Marine Corps after the Yeonpyeong shelling stemmed from spontaneous patriotism. It is different from the forced patriotism that could be found in the past.”
By Kim Su-jeong, Jeong Yong-soo [email@example.com]