Perks for frontline duties working
Close to 4,000 young men applied to serve in 500 frontline military positions that were once shunned for grueling workloads and isolation, showing a change in attitude after the military unveiled a package of incentives for prospective soldiers.
The Army reported yesterday that it received 3,902 applications to serve in borderline units over a nine day period from Nov. 3 through Wednesday. The applications were submitted to the Military Manpower Administration website.
The military will select 500 elite troops from the 3,902 applications following a screening process that involves examining physical conditions, such as height and weight, and takes into account student records to assess character.
The final selection of the 500 solders will be announced Dec. 12.
The military will dispatch the selected 500 to guard posts and general outposts on the inter-Korea border as well as to units at coastal and riverside bases of the 1st and 3rd Field Army starting from next year. That will be the first time the military recruits soldiers specifically for the frontline.
Borderline units used to be shunned by young men because of their grueling guard duties and isolated surroundings that make the solders posted there more exposed to physical or emotional abuse by their superiors.
To persuade young men to apply, the military announced a set of incentives including an additional three-day leave per month in accordance with their period of service.
For example, those on patrol duty along the border will be given 18 additional days of leave for six months of service, up from the current six days.
The military also plans to provide higher wages to those serving at the border by raising their extra monthly wage by up to 60,000 won.
The military’s package of incentives is a follow-up measure to a shooting spree that took place in June, when a 22-year-old sergeant fatally shot five of his fellow soldiers and injured seven others in a rampage on June 21 at a general outpost (GOP) in Goseong County, Gangwon.
An investigation later revealed that he had been categorized as a Class-B soldier - needing focused supervision due to perceived emotional instability. However, the soldier was able to perform border patrol duties.
The evaluation divides psychological problems into three categories: Class A, which indicates a need for “special attention” and prohibits a soldier from performing border patrol duties, a responsibility that carries high risks; Class B, requiring “focused attention”; and Class C, which calls for “basic-level attention.”
Since the shooting spree, the military has vowed to improve working conditions at the border units because violence and cruel treatment in the barracks is more frequent among frontline troops, who undergo harsher training with tighter discipline.
In line with its efforts, the military also earmarked 78.9 billion won in next year’s budget aimed exclusively at improving living conditions for enlisted soldiers in frontline units.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [email@example.com]