Korean female Army officer named UN PKO policymaker
A South Korean female Army officer will be dispatched this week to the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations bureau as a chief policy and doctrine developer, the Ministry of National Defense said Monday.
This is the first time that a female officer of the South Korean military has been appointed as a member of the U.N. Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO), the ministry said in a news release.
Lt. Col. Choi Kyung-hee will depart Tuesday, it said.
“Choi will be dispatched as an officer in charge of developing policies and doctrines,” it said. “She will serve with the DPKO for two years.”
Previously, she served with a South Korean contingent in East Timor between 2002 and 2003 and also worked at a U.N. mission office in Liberia between 2008 and 2009, according to the release.
Currently, there are three South Korean officers at the DPKO.
“Choi’s dispatch will further help to increase South Korea’s role in U.N. peacekeeping operations,” a ministry spokesman said.
Currently, more than 600 South Korean troops and military officials have been deployed to seven countries, including Lebanon, Haiti and Pakistan, for U.N. peacekeeping missions.
President Lee Myung-bak has pledged to raise the country's international profile by actively participating in PKO missions around the world to match the nation's economic status in the global community. To that end, in July, the Army launched a 1,000-strong standby unit to support international peacekeeping operations in an effort to facilitate the quick deployment of troops to troubled regions worldwide.
Soldiers of the “Onnuri” Unit will be deployed within a month after approval from the National Assembly, Col. Yoo Jae-ik, chief of the ministry’s international cooperation bureau, said.
"With the creation of the PKO unit, we will be able to participate in international peacekeeping missions more quickly and readily than before," Yoo said.
The troops are required to undergo physical and language training for overseas deployment.
The unit, which will be dispatched in rotation or as augmentation troops, consists of soldiers specialized in engineering, transport and medical services, he added.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Hwang Eui-don said the creation of the unit will play a pivotal role in upgrading the country's international profile as well as contributing to global efforts to maintain peace and stability.
“The creation of the PKO unit will serve as a historic turning point for the Republic of Korea to increase its national standing,” Hwang said in a ceremony to mark the unit's inauguration at an army base south of Seoul. “The unit will be ready and fully trained to conduct peacekeeping operations immediately whenever we're required to deploy troops.”