Training or torture?


Korean military soldiers preparing for combat

Take a moment and picture a soldier. Let me guess—tall, muscular guy in cargo pants? 

This spring, SIS senior boys have begun receiving military enrollment letters to sign up for two years of cut-throat military training, with all Korean male citizens aged 18 to 35 required to enlist in the military. 

“Three years ago, I saw my brother receiving the military letter first, and it was quite funny at that time,” Seungkyu Han (12), SIS senior born 2004, said. “Now receiving the letter myself, the future seems bleak, because I know about the strict, military culture here in Korea. Still, I hope that I can learn valuable things when I go to the military.”

Stereotypes have long characterized military soldiers as strong and capable leaders, ready to protect their nation. However, what the media portrays barely recognizes the rigorous and, sometimes, abusive training. 

Military training is not crafting capable leaders, but rather fatigued soldiers whose motives are not to fervently serve their country, but to make it out of military training alive. 

The concern should not be in testing one’s dedication through near-impossible combat operations, but rather, skillful training that will cultivate soldiers who have well-rounded skills in not only combat, but communication and intelligence. 

Military trainees often rely on steroids and performance-enhancing drugs as they are coerced into bizarre military operations like fire training in South Korea and swimming in toxic rivers used as dumping ground in Israel——just to name a few. 

Do the benefits of these operations truly outweigh the detrimental health implications that result?

While it is important for each country to train strong and resilient soldiers, military training must prioritize learning to be more strategic in their cognitive skills and adapt to new technologies.

The current Ukraine and Russia crisis is an exemplar of the benefits behind prioritizing intelligence over strength. With Ukraine successfully tracking Russia’s military troops with artificial intelligence in early-September, Ukrainian soldiers conquered 6,000 square kilometers of land in six days, inclusive of a majority of the Kharkiv region. 

To prevent SIS senior boys and other military trainees from suffering under a culture of toxic masculinity, new government reforms in prioritizing intelligence over combat must be accomplished in the near future.