Discuss reasonable compensation
A joint civilian-government-military committee, created to reform military culture following a series of accidents and deaths in the military this year, has finalized a set of recommendations for the Defense Ministry. It included reviving a reward system for people who served in the military by offering bonus points of up to 2 percent on a perfect test score for a job exam in civil service or public enterprises. The points are available to those who served honorably during their military service. The number of people who pass the test with bonus points could not exceed 10 percent of the total job placement quota.
Compared with the previous preferential system, which was ruled unconstitutional and discriminative towards women and the disabled by the Constitutional Court in 1999, the new benefits have scaled down the bonus points and set a limit on how they are used. But the idea behind rewarding Korean men for their military service is the same. What the committee proposed has no binding force and is likely to be protested by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. When it is officially put forward as a bill, the revival of compensation for military service will likely reignite the debate in the legislature and bring opposition from women’s groups.
But society must come to agreement on compensating or rewarding young men in some way for devoting part of their valuable 20s to serve their country. Even if military service is a constitutional duty for all physically able Korean men, young people cannot be forcibly led away from their studies, career and dreams without incentives. They should be given some kind of compensation for their lost years so that they can start on equal footing in society with those who did not need to go into the military.
The problem is finding the reasonable means and scope for compensation. The past scoring system raised the issue of discrimination because female and disabled applicants lost out to counterparts with a military record even though they got perfect score because the latter was given extra points worth 3 percent to 5 percent. The new system should be thoroughly studied so that it won’t put females at a disadvantage in applying for public-sector jobs. The reward system should not again be victimized in a gender dispute and cause confusion in the military and society.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 15. Page 34