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Joining the Army

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Looking back my army life, it has been not only one of the most difficult times butalso one of the most memorable times in my life. Since in Korea the youth in their20’s have to join the military mandatorily, I had no choice but to join into the armywhen I was drafted. Even though it had been a hard time, I now appreciate serving there as I gained many benefits and memorable times from there. In modern Korean history, there was tragic civil war called “Korean War” between North and South, like Civil War in America. After the war, our nation was dividedinto two nations, as two nations that had gone through serious conflicts, including ideology. Because of that, Korean peninsula is still one of the most dangerous areas where two parties face up with each other along Military Demarcation Line. They are strongly fortified with heavy, formidable and advanced weapons. Accordingly, almost very Korean youth must join into military life mandatorily. Army life is not an easy going one at all. The fact that some people still accidentally get wounded or die or got mental illness during the army life testifies how hard the army life is in Korea. My army life suddenly started on January 26, 2006 which was the date I won’t easily forget. On that day I joined Basic Training Center in Republic of Korea (hereafter ROC) Army. As most of the candidates did, I went there with my family and some friends. I arrived at the entrance of the Center around 9:00 am and had the last breakfast with my people before I became a soldier. Soon one sergeant in the Center was giving an announcement through a microphone stating that, “All family members and friends! You can go back to your home. This army will take good care of your young sons from this time on.” Hearing that, my mother dropped her tears incessantly since she knew her beloved son would go through difficult and hard training. I didn’t cry in order not to worry my parents when I was with them. After I became alone, my eyes were full of wet tears realizing that I couldn’t see my people for the time being and that I had to be alone and take care of myself during severe hard training. This was the beginning of basic training life. The first six weeks, new soldiers have to receive numerous military educations.Normal daily schedule were as follows. We were supposed to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. We had PT (physical training) for about an hour starting from 6:00 am. Usually we were running in formation without any clothes on regardless of harsh and cold winter weather. In the basic training center, we had to march in formation and march with cadence song or brave military song. Besides, we had a meal at the exact time, and meal time had to be short and we had no time to relax. Normally, a new soldier’s typical training days were all filled with hard trainings such as shooting a gun, mastering in handling a hand grenade, and exercise of Tak-Won-Do, etc. One of the most difficult things was that we couldn’t make a phone call to outside people during initial six months. No wonder I really missed voices of my family and close friends. The mostnotorious training was road march. It was notorious training because it was the most difficult training. Total length of road march was 50Km. We had to walk with speed for the entire day. It was difficult because we were not provided with enough drinking water. Basic concept of this training is that they let us go hrough a real war situation where we sometimes had to road march without ample drinking water. In war situation, we could be in place where you can’t get water easily, like in the desert. What happened during road march was that I had to drink dirty and stagnant water to get rid of my enormous thirst. It was an experience which I can’t easily forget. My old grandfather gave me valuable guiding light advice for the military life right before I joined the army. My grandfather, who used to be a general in the ROK Army, proudly participated in the Korean War (1950-53). He said that “you need to forget your liberal and relaxed life in school, specially your experience in America. You had to face up with another new world you had never seen before and which doesn’t include a comfortable and relaxed life. The lazier you become, the more difficult time you would have.” Unfortunately the advice was my grandfather’s last words to me because he passed away right after I entered the army service. Even though I wasn’t 100 percent sure what he was talking about, I promised to be real grown up man during army life. From the childhood, my grandfather used to tell me hat a true man should love his country and had to do his best to protect his country. Through army life, my grandfather’s advice had been helpful and had been guiding light whenever I tried to get over hard and difficult time or when I had been confused. Contemplating my army life in terms of Benefit & Loss Analysis, I could get several valuable benefits. First, one benefit I got from military life was to have strong health. To say frankly, during whole my life I hadn’t had many chances to do serious physical training since I have to focus on studying from elementary to college school. Just before I went to the ROK Army, I had lived in Los Angeles Metropolitan area and I had studied at Otis College of Art and Design. As you know, my physical strength needs to be upgraded. Finally I was doomed to focus on physical training regardless of my will during army life. Even though I didn’t enjoy the military training since it was difficult, I could achieve strong and healthy body through army life, which would eventually help my future study in America. Like an old saying, “Sound body, sound mind,” I can concentrate more on education and get more knowledge based on strong physical health. Second, I didn’t recognize the importance of freedom when I was enjoying my major and freedom in college life as normal students. However, the truth was that while I have been enjoying my life, many soldiers were fighting to protect their families and freedom for the country. Now I realized the importance of the security of my country and could appreciate what a young soldier is doing for their country. Third, I can proudly say that my life attitude has been changed. Overall, I can have substantial confidence in my life. Through army life, I had gone through one of the most difficult periods in my life. Some time I had nightmare that I am still in basic training center. On the other hand, I can proudly recall the period as a sweet and memorable experience right now. Overall I am feeling that I had grown up through hard training. In that context, army life has been fair to my life. When we human beings come up with a difficult time, we just want to run away from it. However, if we decided to go through the period and finally conquer it, we get this mysterious power of confidence, which will change your life attitude positively. Therefore I can recall my basic training time as a sweet and memorable time. Overall, as I numerated as above, I have achieved several benefits from army life. Even though some young people criticize that army life in their 20’s is really a waste of time, I don’t want to agree with them. After I joined the army, my attitude toward my life changed substantially. Now I can have more confidence to get over whenever I come up with difficult situations. With endurance, I am sure I can have this thankful confidence to get over any kind of difficult situation in my prospective life, which is the most benefit I have got from my army life.

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