Recently, infringement of human rights of soldiers has become a big social issue. Many photos of poor living conditions of the quarantine facilities for the soldiers who came back from their vacations has been revealed. After this issue broke out, the Ministry of National Defense went around some units to check out on the living conditions of quarantined soldiers. However, there are still many pictures of poor meals distributed to quarantined soldiers coming up on the Internet.
In the past, the problems happened within the military could not be solved well as it had to go through several reporting process. However, from April 2019, as the soldiers were allowed to use their cellphone during free time, they began to report the unfair things happening in military to society through Social Network Service (SNS). As problem could be solved much faster by making it a social issue rather than going through complicated process of the military, numerous reports of soldiers are continuing nowadays. One other serious issue is the excessive COVID-19 prevention happening in the Korea Army Training Center (KATC). As a trainee that entered KATC this February, I would like to share my experience.
On the second day I entered KATC, every trainee had to get a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. It took three days till the result to come out and for those three days, the trainees could not use bathroom freely. Each squad could only use bathroom at their designated times to prevent cross infection among the trainees that came from different places around the country. However, suppressing physiological phenomena was a huge stress for us. Some trainees did not even drink water worrying himself from wanting to go to bathroom. Also, for those three days, we could not even wash our faces or brush our teeth.
One other thing that bothered us the most was the face mask. The trainees had to wear face masks all day long, even when we were sleeping. The back of our ears was so painful as we could not take the face mask off, so we put some tissues between our ears and the masks to ease the pain. Also, as the masks that were given to the trainees were all the same size and did not consider the physical difference between the trainees, some trainees who had relatively big faces got scars on their faces and ears and even bled.
I understand it that KATC needs to go on a strong COVID-19 prevention as it is a place where many people from all around the country enter every week. However, human rights of the trainees are being ignored under the process of prevention. I recently heard a news that from May, Republic of Korea Army is going to allow the trainees to take shower from the first day the trainees enter the training center. Can you believe that the trainees were not able to take a shower for a week after entering the training center? Taking a shower when we want to is a natural right for human but it was not for the trainees. Preventing infection is of course an important thing but what about the human rights of the trainees? I think that improvement on the perception of the trainees’ rights need to be changed within the army. They should not rank soldiers the lowest.
Oh Chee-woo firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © 동국포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>