More want to join Marines in attacks aftermath

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More want to join Marines in attacks aftermath

Young South Koreans are flocking to join the Marines in response to North Korea’s deadly attack on a border island garrisoned by the corps, an official said yesterday.

A total of 4,553 hopefuls have applied for 1,011 openings in the elite corps this month, pushing the competition for places to a record high, said a spokesman for the Military Manpower Administration.

Able-bodied men must serve about two years in a branch of the military and can volunteer to do their time in the corps, which requires tough physical tests.

Competition to join the Marines has intensified since Nov. 23 when the North shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea, killing two civilians and two marines.

The first attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 war prompted young people in the South to take a tougher attitude toward their communist neighbor.

More than 80 percent of all South Koreans believe their military should have hit back harder after the shelling, a poll found six days after the attack.

In December about 3,500 men competed for the Marine Corps’ monthly intake of around 1,000 openings, up from about 2,800 in November.

“Competition has heated up since the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong bombing incidents,” the spokesman told AFP, referring to the North’s alleged torpedo attack on a warship that killed 46 sailors in March 2010.

“I believe more young South Korean men feel compelled for patriotic duty after seeing what happened, and want to serve on the frontline against the North.”

Marines garrison the frontline islands near the contested sea border.

Among this month’s applicants is actor Hyun Bin, who starred in hit television dramas including “Secret Garden” and “My Name is Kim Sam-Soon.” The 29-year-old Hyun, who appears with “Lust, Caution” star Tang Wei in the movie “Late Autumn,” is the oldest would-be marine this month.

The Marines are male only, but women can join as regulars although they are not drafted.

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