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Saturday,October 24,2020
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KATUSA, the English Institute?
The time was 2 AM in the middle of May, a 28-year-old Korean man (Park Heung-sik) was lying on broad way in Shinchon. He was bloody because his neck was severly cut by a drunken U.S. soldier, John Humfrey) with a 25cm-long military knife. Six U.S. soldiers were sent back to their U.S. military base and the injured man lost his voice. 
  The incident broke out when the six drunken U.S. soldiers started to quarrel with a middle-aged man.
According to an eyewitness, the middle-aged man tried to stop the soldiers from kicking the bumpers of taxis on broadway.
  John Humfrey then took out his military knife and stabbed Park in the throat after he asked to apologize to the middle-aged man.
   Ever since we were "protected" by the U.S. Armed Forces after the Korean War (1950-1953), similar or even worse incidents have occurred. But are we silent about these disturbances? Of course not!
  Koreans have become vehemently angry and held demonstrations for the revision of SOFA (The ROK-US Agreement on Status of Force in Korea) many times.
  But this incident angered citizens the worst because one of six was a KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To United States Army).
  The co-worker of the injured man said that the KATUSA was too supportive of the U.S. soldier, people even thought he was Korean-American.
  The KATUSA didn't even try interpretate but just gave a smile which made the people even go crazier. If the KATUSA had adequately arbitrated the fight, the situation wouldn't have developed as it did.
If I have a chance, I want to ask him a question.
    "Why did you become a KATUSA?"
  According to a survey by Korean Military Supporting Organization assessing the reasons why Koreans want to be KATUSAs, 73% responded that the main reason why was to learn English.
  The KATUSA who was involved in the Shinchon incident probably believed that the being with the U.S. Army would help him English.
  But are Korean citizens paying taxes so KATUSAs can learn English and experience the culture of U.S. soldiers?
 The answer is No!
  The main duty of a KATUSA is to be an  interpreter between the Korean and American Armies in order to arbitrate. They are the core soldiers who reinforce the union between Korea and the U.S., encourage good relations between the two armies and win public confidence. They also introduce the language and  culture of Korea to the U.S. soldiers in order to give a good image of Korean culture.
  Dear KATUSAs and the 73% of the respondents who want to serve as KATUSAs: Keep in mind that it is not an English language course! It's really a diplomatic position of the Korean Military as well as Representative of Korea!
 

Yoon Ji-won  jiwon@dgu.edu

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