"Prosperity of our nation has been created through the blood and sweat of many people"
North Korea has been in the news lately, which threatens peace in the Korean peninsula. The situation in the peninsula is getting more dangerous than ever before. Recently we hear news about the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office, the disconnection of the direct hotline between South and North Korea, the destruction of South and North Korea agreements, and the dispatch of surveillance aircraft from U.S. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, and the Memorial Month, we interviewed Heon-soo Kim, a retired major general, who had served the nation as a sincere and dedicated military officer for about 40 years. – Ed
Q: Could you give a brief introduction of yourself?
A: I graduated from the Korea Military Academy in 1981 and served in the army for 37 years. I retired from the army as a major general in late 2017, and I try to share my experiences with people in our society and help the younger generation understand what our situation is like.
Q: What was your dream when you were young?
A: I read biographies a lot, as others did, when I was young. I dreamed of being a hero or a great man in history, like Admiral Lee Sunsin, King Sejong the Great or French general Napoleon Bonaparte. I especially respect Admiral Lee Sunsin. While I was in the military, I read lots of books about Admiral Lee Sunsin. I am also interested in Napoleon's tactics, studying the war history related to Napoleon.
Q: In your opinion, what traits or characteristics should a young man possess to become a soldier?
A: Honestly, the military does not require very special qualities. It is because most people can learn abilities necessary for soldiers while they are in the military. Even if someone needs a certain special quality, he or she can learn this in the military. However. I think one of the basic or fundamental traits soldiers should have is the attitude of keeping a moderate life and another is the spirit of sacrificing his or her own personal life for the country. The military requires soldiers to have a restricted lifestyle, even though things have been changed a lot today.
A: There have been many things happened during my military career, the most memorable was when I served as a company commander for three years, a battalion commander for three years, and a costal regimental commander for 18 months. In particular, when I worked as a battalion commander in the General Outpost (GOP, the troop that warns of the enemies’ approach and provides time for units to prepare the battle area as a division security element) I had a very hard time. I was so busy that I had to work day and night. Of course it was rewarding but exhausting as well. I worked the night watch, making the rounds of the area, regardless of the time of day.
Q: Do you have a personal motto?
A: I do not have any special mottos. But, if I should express it, "Lead a sober, hard working life every moment" could be my motto. I have had that in my mind until I retired and up until now. I think that I have done successfully what I wanted to do on the basis of this principle. Well, however, I changed or maybe broadened my mind a little bit these days, so now I think there are a lot of "ways of life" that could be helpful for our society and our country. I hope I can live together with many people, working for our society and contributing something good for our country.
Q: Do you have anything you want to say to young people who want to be a soldier?
A: Though the working condition in the military has gotten better than before, the job of a soldier is tough, and, most of all, it requires personal sacrifices for the sake of our country and its security. Personally, I believe that people who want to become a solider should trust this fundamental and essential value. I think they should also steadily cultivate their mind and body. As I already mentioned, loyalty, willpower, patience, spontaneity, spirit of sacrifice and physical strength should be most precious values to them. Then, they will be able to lead a worthwhile military life.
Q: Is there something you want to say to the younger generation in this memorial month of July?
A: Though this might be because I was in the military for a long time, I always think like this.: Prosperity of our nation has been created through the blood and sweat of many people who have fought for our nation's freedom and democracy against communism. Therefore, I hope the younger generation will always remember the sacrifices of our patriotic martyrs, and also many people from allied nations, who participated in the Korean War and "defended the country they never knew and a people they never met."
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