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Meeting the First Dongguk Female ROTC cadets"Harsh colds remain in my memory during winter training session..." -Amid interview with female ROTCs

 

   
 
  ▲ The first female ROTC cadets in Dongguk University, Kim Sena (left) and Nam Do-whei (right), posed confidently. After undergoing a 2-weQek military training program, they have become proud ROTC cadets. /Photograph: Lee Jong-seok  
 

 

Dongguk University has allowed female students to join the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program since 2011. Four female students have now become confident ROTC cadets and wear a cadet’s uniform on campus. After undergoing hard physical training last winter vacation, college girls have changed into military cadets. A Dongguk Post reporter sat down with the cadets to listen to their story as a female ROTC cadet. Kim Sena of Police Administration and Nam Do-whui of English Department are two of these cadets. They were eager to take time to give us an interview amid their busy days.

“My whole different life began after becoming a ROTC cadet,” said Kim Sena, battalion leader of the female ROTC at Dongguk University. She added, “I have two ways of life. I live as a cadet in the training. But I return to live as a college student after that.”

Yes. A ROTC cadet’s day starts at 6 a.m. They go to school in their ROTC uniform. They gather in Manhae Square at 7:45 a.m. and line up for morning exercises. They usually do sit-ups, push-ups and military training for their physical achievement test. After that, they march 4 kilometers along the Mt. Nam trail. The female cadets go to the head of the group and lead them out. Once finished, they head to breakfast. They are trained to eat fast within several minutes. From 8:00 a.m. they have a break time to prepare for military science class at 9:00 a.m. They usually do washing and ironing the uniform in the break time. After military science class, cadets have their own timetables. After this tight schedule, they are free to act like ordinary students.

Here are female ROTC cadets, Kim Sena and  Nam Do-whui’s stories of becoming an ROTC cadet.

Q. Congratulations on being selected as a cadet. How do you feel?
Kim, Nam: Still I can’t believe I am a ROTC cadet, and very proud of being a cadet. Thanks to my colleagues for considering us and we feel a real sense of comradeship.

Q. What made you decide to become a cadet?
Kim: Before I enter Dongguk University, I was a Naval Academy cadet. But, I got injured, forcing me to drop out of the Academy. I changed my mind to become a police officer, which is the reason I entered the Department of Police Administration in Dongguk University. Two years have passed, I saw a school notice for recruitment of female ROTC cadets. I was very surprised to see the notice. That was an opportunity god gave me. It was destiny that my desperation brought me.
Nam: In my case, my reason is pretty different of Kim’s. Actually I had never dreamed of becoming a soldier. English Literature major has no connection with soldiers. Most of my friends want to become English teacher or work at foreign affiliated company. I took a similar career path that my friends had taken. One day, I saw a ROTC recruitment notice and applied for it. I decided I needed a change and wanted to challenge myself. Now I have made up my mind and am very satisfied with my roles.

Q. How was your basic military training?  Wasn’t it tough for you?
Kim: I had trained for military cadet for 2 weeks last winter vacation. Yes, military training was hard and tough for female students. Other male ROTC colleague outperforms us  and have stronger physical strength. When I was going through military training, however, I found that a new Kim Sena was in my mind. That helped me undergo  the hard training.
Nam: I chose to become a ROTC cadet and military training is also a duty I chose to do. I take my responsibility and should meet challenges. In basic military training, cadets learned how to walk, turning around and marching in a military format. Even, cadets are trained for how to take a meal. I learned using a sword and firearm for the first time in my life. As you mentioned, training is tough but I learned a lot.

Q. What was the most impressive thing during the military training?
Kim: Most memorable is hardtack (A saltless biscuit eaten by soldiers or sailors aboard ship). Hardtack is really delicious during the long march. I can’t believe I marched 20 kilometers a day carrying packs of 20 kilograms gears. At that time hardtack is my only consolation, and that is my most impressive moment.
Nam: Harsh colds remain in my memory. During the training session, we should stayed outdoor all day. That’s really harsh in my case. My body went numb and hot packs were my consolation. I packed 60 hot packs in the training, but all were gone in just two weeks.

Q. ROTC cadets live two lives as a college student and cadet. Have you had any difficulties keeping up the studies?
Nam: I am a cadet, but also a college student. When I am attending classes, many students and also professors show interest in me. That keeps up my spirit and helps me concentrate on the class. I have many many things to do as a student and cadet, I plan my detailed have-to-do list and carry it out
Kim: I should wake up earlier than college students woke. That expands my time spending. I sleep less than a year ago  but I do not feel tired. My attitude toward attending class has improved, and I am more alert and can concentrate better than I expected.

Q. Are cadets allowed to have relationships with each other?
Nam: (Laugh) When having relations with other cadets, they should report to the discipline officer. But other than this  case, ROTC cadets are unrestricted in having relationships like other students do.

Q. Do you have any aspirations or plans as a cadet?
Nam: I want to successfully get through my remaining training. The grade of the training will be marked on my badge when commissioning as an officer. That will last forever. I hope to get higher ranks than now.
Kim: As a cadet, I really want to become an honorable cadet. As an officer, I want to become a thoughtful and considerate officer to subordinates - and earn their trust.

 

What is ROTC?
The ROTC is college-based, officer commissioning program. The program started in Korea in 1963, but until recently, female students have been barred from enrolling. Last year, the defense ministry lifted the ban and the army recruited 60 female ROTCs. This year, Dongguk University selected 5 female students. New female ROTC cadets undertake military education and training for two years and begin their 28-month service as an officer in 2014.

   
 
   
 

Lee Jong-seok  bigbell414@dongguk.edu

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