ATTN: MODS/FORASTERO: I AM POSTING THE BELOW IN GOOD FAITH, AS PER YOUR QUERY AS TO "WHY THIS THREAD IS IN CURRENT AFFAIRS." The issue IS news/a current affair in South Korea (where I live and work). FYI, I post a NYT link on this issue below this message. Given that the thread has generated a couple of serious responses I'd be very grateful if you could unlock the thread. Alternatively, if you prefer to re-post it elsewhere on this forum that is more suitable, please do so, you are the moderators and I bow to your decision on this matter. I would suggest that while this issue IS a contentious one, to the best of my knowledge, ARSSE has never shied away from controversy. I'd also suggest it is a serious issue in military culture that deserves discussion. And if South Korea is discussing this - as they are - why not this country? We have a positive national reputation for honesty, openness and transparency, I see no need to keep skeletons in the cupboard. As per the first post - which made full and open disclosure that yes, I will write (in a South Korean media outlet next week) an Op-ed on this issue - nobody who does not wish to be, will be quoted. My reason for posting this was to get a background sense of how British soldiers/ex-British soldiers think on this issue. For any posters who wish to discuss this issue seriously: I'd be grateful if you would look at theorginial post in the locked thread, which contains questions. For those with fear and/or loathing of the journalistic profession: Of course you are welcome to make your feelings clear, but I am (as far as I know...?) a member of this forum in decent standing. I am also a published military historian so am NOT anti-forces. On ARSSE, one takes the rough with the smooth, but in this case, I'd respectfully request some forebearance. Best regards to all - Andrew Salmon Seoul http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/world/asia/31marines.html?_r=1&ref=choesanghun SEOUL, South Korea If anyone could be a marine, Id never have joined. That is the slogan of South Koreas Marine Corps, and it speaks volumes about the forces sense of its elite status; it is a particularly bold assertion in a country where most able-bodied men perform mandatory military service. These days, however, that marine pride, and the discipline of the South Korean military in general, has come under uncomfortable scrutiny. In June, some marines fired their rifles toward a civilian passenger plane approaching the Seoul airport, mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft in an episode that has raised questions about the marines training and preparedness. (Fortunately, they did not hit the plane.) But a series of very different episodes that followed in quick succession this month have proved even more troubling for many South Koreans. On July 4, a marine corporal who investigators said was bullied by others in his barracks went on a shooting rampage, killing four marines and wounding a fifth. On July 10, a marine private hanged himself. Bruises, possibly from an earlier beating, were found on his chest. Four days later, a marine master sergeant killed himself, also by hanging. These episodes, and similar ones in the army, have amplified a problem faced by South Koreas 650,000-member military, a force intended to deter aggression from North Korea, with which the South never concluded a formal peace after the 1950-53 Korean War. Increasingly, the militarys ranks are filled with young men who have not experienced war and no longer consider their 21-month compulsory service a sacred duty, as their fathers did, but rather an inconvenient interruption of their civilian lives and careers. That shift in attitude not only has worried superiors who count on a motivated force, but also has led to a generational clash. Many younger soldiers and marines are now unwilling to accept harsh treatment long tolerated and even encouraged in South Korea as a way of toughening up men for battle, including beatings severe enough to puncture eardrums and cut deeply into thighs. Even conservatives, like President Lee Myung-bak, have indicated they believe that times have changed and that the military needs to find a new way of maintaining discipline other than through physical assaults. Some young people, who grew up in freedom, seem psychologically unable to adjust to a different environment in the military, the president said, commenting on the deaths among the marines. We have to drastically change the barracks culture. The Defense Ministry has announced a crackdown on beatings and other abuses in the military. It also vowed to eradicate a practice that many consider a bedrock of military life here but that has also been blamed for widespread brutality: the order and obey system, according to which soldiers and marines with seniority are encouraged to devise harsh penalties for their subordinates, and even beat them, in order to punish failure and enforce obedience to the smallest of rules and traditions. In some barracks, privates must get a superiors permission even to use the bathroom. The system is especially strong in the marine corps, which accepts only volunteers and where members strongly adhere to a pecking order based on entry-class seniority a new class arrives every two weeks. Many former marines remember with dread the five-pound pickax handle wielded by more senior marines as their favored flogging tool. To many veterans, the proposed changes threaten a cherished tradition and the Souths security, even as the North has continued provocations, including an attack in November on a South Korean island guarded by marines. You obey marines from an earlier class as if they were gods, said Kim Jong-ryeol, a 51-year-old former marine who runs a truck weighing station in Seoul. This is what drives marines through a hail of bullets in wartime. What theyre trying to do now is to kill the marines soul, to turn them into sissies. The only one wholl be pleased by this is Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.