[KS] ROK military hazing

Vladimir Tikhonov vladimir.tikhonov at ikos.uio.no
Wed Apr 18 01:24:31 EDT 2012

 In 2006-2009, there existed a special Presidential Commission on the 
 Clarification of the Suspicious Death in the Army, the last hope of all 
 these who lost their sons in the hell on earth called "ROK Army". I 
 remember meeting their investigators several times, who told me that 
 they accepted ca. 600 cases of either suicides suspected to be results 
 of hazing, or death incidents appearing to be consequences of hazing (in 
 most cases, beating deaths - the hazers seem to be overenthusiastic in 
 times, not noticing that the victim is no longer alive), for a formal 
 investiagtion. They had no power to punish the abusers, of course, only 
 to investigate and then recommend paying compensation to the relatives 
 of the victims in case the death was found out to be a result of 
 wrongdoing, thus a state responsibility. When the Committee was to be 
 disbanded, without finishing all the cases, the relatives of the victims 
 demonstrated, crying, with tears on their faces 
 (http://www.newsway.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=46577). I am not in a 
 position to compare, of course, but it looks (from the tales of the 
 North Korean refugees with the military service experience) as if the 
 North Korean army has much more humane environment in the barracks than 
 its Southern counterpart. The "beautiful traditions" of the Imperial 
 Japanese Army, duly preserved by the American "advisers" in the late 
 1940s, die hard.

 Vladimir Tikhonov/Pak Noja

 On Tue, 17 Apr 2012 16:04:51 -0400, Jim Thomas <jimpthomas at hotmail.com> 
> (Following on Michael's point)
>  Unfortunately, the hazing still goes on and remains unreported,
> according to informants (among my students) who served in the ROK
> military over the last decade or so. Any direction on published
> documentary material about this would be most appreciated.
>  Speaking of intimidation, one can only image what sorts of threats
> and intimidation were used for troops who were deployed to Kwangju in
> May, 1980--not that that justified their actions.
>  And I assume you have all heard the exprssion:
>  "There are three kinds of Korean males _(namja):_ Those who have 
> done
> their military service, those who are serving, and those who will
> serve in the future..." Quite an indictment on mililitarized society,
> where little can change as long as conscription remains.
>  best,
>  jim
> -------------------------
>  Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 01:33:10 -0700
> From: mjcgibb at yahoo.com
> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
> Dear all,
> I asked my father-in-law last night why he went to Vietnam as part of
> a contingent of South Korean troops during his mandatory military
> service. He volunteered to go, he said, because he was sick of the
> beatings he was receiving courtesy of his South Korean army seniors.
> He thought life in Vietnam could not possibly be worse than the
> horrendous conditions (hazing) he was experiencing as a conscript in
> Korea. His mates who volunteered at the same time did so for similar
> reasons, he said. Vietnam offered a way out of the hell of 1960s
> military service in Korea, he said.
> Cheers
> Michael
> -------------------------
>   Balazs Szalontai
>  Michael Pettid ; Korean Studies Discussion List
>  Tuesday, April 17, 2012 9:12 AM
>  Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
>  Dear George, Jiyul and all,
> I think that we need to pay close attentions to the stages of South
> Korean military involvement in Vietnam if we are to specify which 
> were
> Park Chung Hee's primary and secondary motives for sending ROKA 
> troops
> to Vietnam. I do agree with the point that the economic benefits thus
> gained were substantial, to put it mildly, and new combat experience
> for the ROKA also must have mattered a lot. Still, these
> considerations do not satisfactorily explain why Park, instead of
> trying to maximize these benefits by fulfilling each American request
> for ROKA troops, put a ceiling to the deployments in November 1966,
> and refused to send additional troops in 1967-68, no matter how
> persistently the U.S. asked for them. To be sure, the North Korean
> commando raids that started in November 1966 probably influenced his
> decision, but since at first he tended to downplay their importance,
> and later responded to them by launching counter-raids, a fear of the
> North might not be a sufficient explanation. Thus I consider it 
> likely
> that his primary motives for the troop deployment were to (1) secure 
> a
> U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK, such as a pledge not to
> withdraw US troops from South Korea without consultation, and (2) use
> the troop deployments as a bargaining chip to conclude the Status of
> Forces Agreement (SOFA) on terms more favorable to Seoul. NB, Park's
> decision to halt deployments was made right after the ratification of
> the SOFA by the ROK National Assembly in October 1966. Once he
> achieved as much as he could in this field, he probably calculated
> that it was no longer necessary to send additional troops, since the
> US-ROK agreements signed in 1966 settled these issues. If this was
> really so, he miscalculated, because Nixon withdrew one-third of the
> US troops anyway.
> All the best,
> Balazs Szalontai
> Kwangwoon University
> --- On  wrote:
> Mr. Kim,
> It is too easy to blame war and violence on some predisposed human
> condition (and that is very convenient for militaristic governments
> and individuals who hope to profit from such violence). And preparing
> for war is surely the best way to prevent it and make the world safe.
> We are certainly doing a fine job of that as I write.
> I am a premodernist and I teach my students about the futility and
> uselessness of war and how that damaged the lives of individuals and
> society. It is not a human condition as you state, but rather
> resultant from greed and the desire to take from others what one 
> might
> not have. I find it rather amazing that this is something I need to
> state in academia, but clearly we have a ways to go.
> Michael J. Pettid
> Professor of Premodern Korean Studies
> Department of Asian and Asian American Studies
> Director, Translation, Research and Instruction Program
> Binghamton University
> 607.777.3862
> -------------------------
>   Sheila Miyoshi Jager
>  koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>  Monday, April 16, 2012 8:22 AM
>  Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
> Unfortunately war is a necessary evil in the human condition. The
> better you are prepared for it the better the chance of preventing 
> it.
> No one is more anti-war then the people who have to fight it if it
> occurs. You can condemn war, and rightfully so, but you can't
> eliminate it.
> Jiyul Kim.
> On 4/15/2012 7:50 PM, Michael Pettid wrote:
> Mr. Kim
> I am happy that you were able to find a silver lining in a war that
> killed tens of thousands of combatants and many, many more
> non-combatants. The war experience that was able to "bolster the
> competence and confidence" of the SK troops was surely worth such a
> cost, right? Wars are the plague of humankind and nothing more than
> the actions of various governments to achieve their goals. War must 
> be
> condemned in whatever fashion necessary.
> Michael J. Pettid
> Professor of Premodern Korean Studies
> Department of Asian and Asian American Studies
> Director, Translation, Research and Instruction Program
> Binghamton University
> 607.777.3862
> -------------------------
>   Jiyul Kim
>  koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>  Sunday, April 15, 2012 12:58 PM
>  Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
> This is all good and fine from a macro view and I see nothing to
> disagree with, but numbers and quantification and metrics do not make
> history. What is left out is the psychology and emotions that Vietnam
> generated in Park, the military, and the populace. No doubt there 
> were
> tremendous materiel benefits for SK and other Asian countries from 
> the
> war, but the war also had unmeasurable "benefits" that were 
> recognized
> then as well for example consolidating national pride and confidence
> and providing the military with combat experience. Since 1953 the 
> only
> Korean forces, North and South, who have experienced real combat were
> the Koreans in Vietnam including a handful of North Korean fighter
> pilots. That experience did much to bolster the competence and
> confidence of the South Korean Army. This is not to justify their
> deployment or to somehow legitimate the Vietnam War. I for one 
> believe
> it was a tragic unjust war for the U.S. and its allies to have gotten
> involved in, but we should not always paint everything about the war
> in broad and condemning strokes.
> Jiyul Kim
> On 4/15/2012 10:15 AM, Katsiaficas, George wrote:
> The larger context has bearing on your question. The government of
> South Korea received tremendous economic benefits from the Vietnam
> War. Park Chung-hee's grandiose scheme to build heavy industry
> required enormous amounts of money, but he had only limited domestic
> sources. As much as hesqueezed workers and devalued the currency to
> stimulate exports, he still needed farmore capital. Between 1953 and
> 1962, US aid funded 70% of Korea’s imports and 80% of its fixed
> capital investments—about 8% of its GNP.Once the US needed its
> monies to fight the war in Vietnam, however, it began to cut back. In
> order to find new international sources of money, Park endorsed a key
> US proposal: closer ROK ties with Japan. Staunch domestic opposition
> to normalization prevented a treaty from simply being finalized. On
> June 3, 1964, Park declared martial law in Seoul and dismissed dozens
> of professors and students. The US Combined Forces Commander approved
> the release of two combat divisions to suppress the protests. Despite
> thousands of students threatening to storm the Blue House (the
> presidentialresidence), Park rammed the treaty through the rubber
> stamp legislature of the Third Republic. When the opposition went on 
> a
> hunger strike to protest the treaty, the ruling party took one minute
> to ratify it, and at the same time, it also approved sending 20,000
> troops to Vietnam to fight on the side of the US. In exchange for
> normalization of relations, Japan paid $300 million in grants (for
> which Park indemnified Japan for all its previous actions) and made
> available another half-a-billion dollars in loans.
> Sensing an opportunity to channel public sentiment against the
> communist enemy as well as a second avenue to raise capital, Park
> immediately offered thousands more troops for deployment to Vietnam.
> Despite scattered student protests, war with Vietnam proved less
> controversial than his settling of accounts with Japan. Park’s
> movement of troops was so fast, that according to figures released by
> the US State Department, there were more South Korean soldiers
> fighting in southern Vietnam in 1965 than North Vietnamese. South
> Koreans soldiers were widely reported to be even more brutal than
> their US counterparts. At the end of 1969, some 48,000 ROK military
> personnel were stationed in Vietnam, and by the time they completed
> their withdrawal in 1973, some 300,000 veterans had fought there. ROK
> casualties included 4,960 dead and 10,962 wounded. Wars provide
> experiences for military officers who go on to inflict future
> casualties. Lieutenant No Ri-Bang served in Jeju in 1948 and went to
> Vietnam. Future dictators Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo served
> together in Vietnam, before brutally ruling South Korea after Park’s
> assassination in 1979.
> The economic benefits of military intervention in Vietnam were
> extraordinary. From 1965-1970, the South Korean government received
> $1.1 billion in payments—about 7% of GDP and 19% of foreign
> earnings. More than 80 Korean companies did lucrative business in
> Vietnam—from transportation to supply, construction to
> entertainment—from which the country accrued another $1 billion for
> exports to and services in Vietnam. Secret US bonuses paid to Park’s
> government for Korean soldiers who fought in Vietnam totaled $185
> million from 1965-1973. When we add all these funds to the $1.1
> billion in direct payments, the total US allocations to Park’s
> regime amounted to about 30% of the ROK’s foreign exchange earnings
> from 1966-1969. Altogether US aid to South Korea totaled $11 billion
> by 1973—more than to any other country except South Vietnam—some
> 8% of worldwide US military and foreign monies. Regimes friendly to
> the US in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Thailand also benefited
> greatly from the tidal wave of dollars that flooded the region during
> the Vietnam War.
> Excerpted from my book, Asia's Unknown Uprisings: Vol. 1 South Korean
> Social Movements in the 20th Century
> George Katsiaficas
> -------------------------
>  See the discussion in the volume I edited, _Vietnam Documents:
> American and Vietnamese Views of the War_ (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe,
> 1992) p. 63.
>  Chae-Jin Lee, pp. 55, 70.
>  Cumings, _Korea’s Place in the Sun_, p. 321.
>  Martin Hart-Landsberg 1993, 147-8.
>  Han Sung-joo, “Korean Politics in an International Context,” in
> Korean National Commission for UNESCO (editor) _Korean Politics:
> Striving for Democracy and Unification_ (Elizabeth, NJ: Hollym, 2002)
> p. 620.
> From: don kirk
> Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List
> Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 15:04:41 -0700
> To: Kevin Shepard , Korean Studies Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
>  The question is whether or not they got bonuses in order to
> "volunteer" for Vietnam. If they got no bonuses, then obviously they
> wouldn't be "mercenaries." Even if they got bonuses, it would be
> difficult to pin the mercenary label since soldiers in any army
> generally get combat pay when fighting overseas. Also, I'm not sure
> ordinary draftees had any say in where they were sent.
>  All told, 300,000 Koreans served in Vietnam over nearly a ten-year
> period. Five thousand of them were KIA, many more WIA. The White 
> Horse
> and Tiger divisions were the principal units. Korean special forces
> were also in Vietnam. Those whom I have met are proud to have served
> there. Many of them, grizzled old veterans, turn up at demonstrations
> in Seoul protesting leftist demos, NKorean human rights violations,
> North Korean dynastic rule etc. They love to wear their old uniforms
> with ribbons awarded for Vietnam service, including acts of 
> individual
> heroism.
> Some of them also talk quite openly about what they did in Vietnam --
> and could provide material supporting your thesis re "the type of
> warfare that they had to fight in Vietnam,
> including guerrilla warfare and civilian warfare." Strongly suggest
> you come here and interview some while they're still around. They'd
> tell you a lot, good and bad. Sorry to say, one of them once boasted
> to me of a personal "body count" of 300 victims -- would doubt if all
> of them were "enemy." On the other hand, they were also known for 
> high
> levels of efficiency and success in their AO's.
> Good luck on the project.
> Don Kirk
> --- On  wrote:
> From: Kevin Shepard
> Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
> To: "koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws"
> Date: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 1:40 PM
> I think you will be hard-pressed to justify calling individual
> soldiers mercenaries - the Korean government may have received funds
> from the US, but ROK soldiers were drafted into mandatory service. If
> you come across documentation that individuals volunteered for 
> Vietnam
> in order to receive funds from the US, please send such documents to
> me.
> Kevin Shepard, Ph.D.
> Strategist
> UCJ 5 Strategy Div.
> -------------------------
>   "koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws"
>  koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>  Sunday, April 15, 2012 1:00 AM
>  Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 106, Issue 9
> Today's Topics:
>  1. Discussion Question (brianhwang at berkeley.edu)
>  2. March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History and
>  Culture Review" Available Online (Center for Korean Studies)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 10:15:24 -0700
> From: brianhwang at berkeley.edu
> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: [KS] Discussion Question
> Message-ID:
> Content-Type: text/plain;charset=utf-8
> Hello all:
> I am a history student at University of California, Berkeley.
> Currently I
> am working on a paper regarding Korean involvement in the Vietnam 
> War.
> My
> argument is that although Korean soldiers were 1) mercenaries 
> (because
> they were paid predominantly by US dollars to go) and 2) anti
> communists
> (because of past history), the atrocities that they are accused of
> committing are not primarily due to the aforementioned reasons, but
> because of the type of warfare that they had to fight in Vietnam,
> including guerrilla warfare and civilian warfare.
> Do you all think this is a valid argument? Are there any primary
> sources
> that would help me in my argument, including ones that attribute
> Korean
> atrocities to their mercenary and anticommunist nature?
> Thank you!
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 11:00:21 -0700
> From: "Center for Korean Studies"
> To:
> Subject: [KS] March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History
>  and Culture Review" Available Online
> Message-ID:
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture
> Review" now online
> The second issue of IEAS's new, interactive e-journal 
> "Cross-Currents:
> East Asian History and Culture Review" is now online. The theme of 
> the
> March 2012 issue is "Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian
> History: The Past and Future of the Gaih?zu" (guest edited by K?ren
> Wigen, professor of History at Stanford). Visit  to read the 
> articles,
> a review essay written by Timothy Cheek (University of British
> Columbia) about Ezra Vogel's new book on Deng Xiaoping, and abstracts
> of important new scholarship in Chinese. The March issue of the
> e-journal also features a photo essay by Jianhua Gong documenting
> Shanghai's longtang alleyways.
> A joint enterprise of the Research Institute of Korean Studies at
> Korea University (RIKS) and the Institute of East Asian Studies at 
> the
> University of California at Berkeley (IEAS), "Cross-Currents" offers
> its readers up-to-date research findings, emerging trends, and
> cutting-edge perspectives concerning East Asian history and culture
> from scholars in both English-speaking and Asian language-speaking
> academic communities.
> * * ** **
> March 2012 issue of "Cross-Currents" e-journal
> (See )
> *Co-Editors' Note*
> Building an Online Community of East Asia Scholars
> Sungtaek Cho, Research Institute of Korean Studies (RIKS), Korea
> University
> Wen-hsin Yeh, Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), University of
> California, Berkeley
> *Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian History: The Past
> and Future of the Gaihozu*
> Introduction to "Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian
> History: The Past and Future of the Gaihozu"
> Guest editor K?ren Wigen, Stanford University
> Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873-1945: An Overview
> Shigeru Kobayashi, Osaka University
> Imagining Manmo: Mapping the Russo-Japanese Boundary Agreements in
> Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, 1907-1915
> Yoshihisa T. Matsusaka, Wellesley College
> Triangulating Chosen: Maps, Mapmaking, and the Land Survey in 
> Colonial
> Korea
> David Fedman, Stanford University
> Mapping Economic Development: The South Seas Government and Sugar
> Production in Japan's South Pacific Mandate, 1919--1941
> Ti Ngo, University of California, Berkeley
> *Forum*
> Asian Studies/Global Studies: Transcending Area Studies and Social
> Sciences
> John Lie, University of California, Berkeley/
> Defenders and Conquerors: The Rhetoric of Royal Power in Korean
> Inscriptions from the Fifth to Seventh Centuries
> Hung-gyu Kim, Korea University
> *Review Essays and Notes*
> Of Leaders and Governance: How the Chinese Dragon Got Its Scales
> Timothy Cheek, University of British Columbia
> A Note on the 40th Anniversary of Nixon's Visit to China
> William C. Kirby, Harvard University
> *Photo Essay*
> "Shanghai Alleyways" by photographer Jianhua Gong
> Essay by Xiaoneng Yang, Stanford University
> *Readings from Asia*
> Ge Zhaoguang , Dwelling in the Middle of the Country: Reestablishing
> Histories of "China" [????:????"??"???]
> Abstract by Wennan Liu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
> Wang Qisheng, Revolution and Counter-Revolution: Republican Politics
> in Social-Cultural Scope [???????????????????]
> Abstract by Bin Ye, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
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