Korea: August 1, 2004


South Korea is undertaking a long overdue reform of its armed forces. American military commanders have been suggesting this for decades, but without much success. Until the 1990s, the generals ran the country, having taken over in the 1960s. Despite the introduction of civilian rule, the generals still tended to do what they wanted. This included a fair amount of corruption in spending defense funds. In recent years, many corrupt officers have been charged and convicted. This has discredited the generals, and made it possible to replace a lot of them and change the direction of the South Korean military affairs. For one thing, more emphasis will be put on the air force and navy, and more realistic training and war plans for everyone. While South Korea still depends heavily on conscripts (serving for two years), many South Korean officers have noted the greater of American military units, who are staffed only with volunteers. 


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