Park grants troops two-day furloughs

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Park grants troops two-day furloughs

As the commander in chief of the nation’s military, President Park Geun-hye granted an unprecedented special two-day furlough to the country’s 560,000 troops to praise their upstanding patriotism last month in the face of provocations by North Korea.

The Blue House said Sunday that the special two-day furloughs will be granted to most members of the armed forces in celebration of the Chuseok holiday. Message cards recognizing their dedication and snacks will also be provided, the Blue House said.

According to the Blue House, soldiers will be allowed to tack their additional leave onto their existing furloughs or use it separately so long as the scheduling does not interfere with unit operations.

Of the nation’s 670,000 forces, 560,000 will be granted special leave.

The presidential office said that although the two-day furlough was granted in line with Chuseok, Korea’s biggest holiday that falls on Sept. 27 this year, Park was simply expressing her appreciation for bravery and readiness that Korea’s troops exhibited in defending their country following military aggressions by North Korea.

On Aug. 4, land mines planted by North Korean forces exploded inside the demilitarized zone in Paju, northern Gyeonggi, maiming two South Korean soldiers. The South retaliated by reinstating propaganda broadcasts at the border, to which the North responded by firing artillery rounds, sending tensions on the peninsula to new heights.

The situation was eventually resolved following inter-Korean talks that lasted more than 40 hours.

“Park wants to express her appreciation for the soldiers’ efforts to maintain readiness, including their timely countermeasures against the North’s land mine provocation inside the DMZ and its firing of artillery rounds toward the South,” the Blue House said. “It is also to reward their patriotism and devotion to serve the country and the people.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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