Military academy back at top rank

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Military academy back at top rank

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During the authoritarian era from the 1960s to the 1980s, people jokingly said that the Korea Military Academy had more influence than a doctoral degree but that only one’s wife had more influence than the KMA. At the time, the ruling party was called “The Academy of Military and Law,” because KMA graduates and graduates of Seoul National University’s law department became the cronies of the president and his military academy colleagues.

Nowadays, it is hard to find a politician who graduated from the KMA. These days, the most sought-after credentials are a Korea University degree, Somang Church membership and a Yeongnam address, because these are the ones held by the current president’s cronies.

This year, the KMA is once again popular with the young generation. The academy received 5,905 applications for the 2012 school year. It screened 1,050 candidates in the first round and will screen another 625 in the second round on Oct. 11. The 250 men and 25 women who are accepted will be named in December.

This year, the competition ratio for acceptance to the KMA is 21.47 to 1. Last year, the figure was 21.59 to 1, the highest in 26 years. For two years in a row, the military academy has been one of the most sought-after institutes in the nation, attracting the applicants with the highest GPAs.

The KMA’s competition ratio is a precise reflection of the nation’s political and economic situation. In the 1980s, when power was in the hands of former military officers, the military academy was the shortcut to success. The competition ratio was 21.6 to 1 in 1983 and 26 to 1 in 1985. After democratization, the competition ratio declined to 4.4 to 1 in 1994. Now, with people looking for stable employment following the global financial crisis and a more positive perception of the military among the public, the KMA’s competition ratio is on the rise, from 18.1 to 1 in 2009 to 20.2 to 1 in 2010.

I welcome the popularity of the KMA and believe the community should let the military academy thrive. Instead of the stigma of dictatorship and political motivations, we need to look at the military academy as an institute of higher learning that trains national defense specialists. In its college rankings, Forbes magazine ranked the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in first place in 2009 and in third this year. There is no reason why the KMA cannot achieve the same prestige.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


By Noh Jae-hyun
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