from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #57: That Time of the Year Again

with 2 comments

This week, you might see more than the usual number of fatigue-clad men (uniform fatigues, that is, and probably a little weariness) wandering the streets of Seoul. It’s not a reaction to anything that the North is doing—nobody really cares here—but a regular occurrence, twice yearly (I think). The young men won’t be wearing the new digital uniforms they issue to conscripts these days, and they’ll be riding scooters, walking around without their battle caps or with their hands in their pockets, their pants bloused low over their boots or not at all. It’s reserve training season.

Reserve training is a farce although I’ve heard that the powers that be are trying to actually fit some actual training into the schedule these days. I’m no longer obligated in any way to the Korean Army so I’ve never had to report for training, but I had to oversee Mobilization Training when I was a private in 2004.

The reserves lumbered in early in the morning and, after getting their room assignments, went straight to bed. The only thing they were somewhat enthusiastic about was smoking and frequenting the PX, but they had to be coerced and prodded and pushed to do everything else. Some of them were so lazy they couldn’t be bothered with aiming when squatting over the old-school toilets. Of course, the burden was on us active duty schmucks to drag them along and clean up after them. As far as I could tell, it was a complete waste of time and manpower with very little benefit to the “battle readiness” of the military.

Check out Fermentation’s account of reserve training here.

Once in a while, I’ll hear that I’m lucky that I don’t have to report to reserve training, but it’s like saying to someone who’s lost his/her parents, “At least you don’t have to buy carnations every year.” (It’s a bad analogy but I’m tired and it’s Parents Day today. Happy Parents Day, Mom.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I was forced to give up one citizenship after my discharge, which is why I don’t have to serve as a reserve. It wasn’t until a few years later that the government began to recognize dual citizenships outside of military duty obligations. I have no desire to apply for dual citizenship, but I wonder if I did, would I have to show up for reserve training?


Image from a friend’s facebook page. Korean combat boots are the worst. They will fuck your feet up like no other. These boots weren’t made for walking.


2 Responses

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  1. Seen this?

    “Good” writing vs. “talented” writing.

    Saw a link to the above on Twitter today. Might be inspirational… might not.


    May 28, 2013 at 1:21 am

    • Hey, Kevin,

      I hope that you’ve adjusted back to life in the States and that good things happen with the job hunt here.

      I’ve never read the article before. Like you predicted, I have mixed feelings. The difference between “good” and “talented,” it’s such a intimidating gap. The problem is that only time will tell to which side I belong.


      May 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm

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