Are Korean Army nurses disciplined?
Teaching English at the Korean Armed Forces Nursing Academy in Daejeon seemed to be an interesting teaching opportunity. I've worked for several universities, and I was certainly curious to see how well the Korean Army nurses performed as students.
But my confidence in how well students proved to be disciplined as soldiers and dedicated students has been in doubt after a series of rude, lazy and outright disrespectful behavior.
During a free talking session, in which students were free to ask me any question, a few chose to ask me if, “I'd ever marry a transsexual.” Another asked, “If a man ever got a sex change operation, would I consider marrying them?” Finally, one student asked, “If I could grow hair long, would I?” (a comment about my baldness.) Certainly strange questions, but they came on the back of several other more strange occurrence which I feel illustrate a problem in the Korean Armed Forces Nursing Academy.
It all started when students demanded I end my class 30 minutes early for lunch. They brought this up during several classes in which I explained I cannot let them go early. Disliking my response, students said that their superior, Captain Kim, lets them go early. On top of this, they referred to him as a “liar” several times after I said Captain Kim doesn't want the class to end early.
Several weeks later, I confronted a student who slept (in class) on more than five occasions. On this day, she decided to sleep and read Korean language books during my lesson. I asked her to wake up and I confiscated her book, to which she replied, “Hey, you can't take my book!” I took the student down to the administration office and explained she was no longer invited to attend class because of her consistent habit of sleeping in it, sleeping even after I asked her to wake up several times.
Furthermore, her reading of Korean books during lessons and her subsequent rude behavior should result in her being permanently removed from the course. The administration officers told me that this student must return to class, without punishment or discipline of any kind. After threatening to write a letter of complaint to senior officers (or Korean newspapers), they hesitated to apply any punishment. They simply said I could only reduce the student's participation score.
On a third occasion, a student was caught reading Korean language books during class. I talked her afterward and told her to write a one-page apology letter explaining why she shouldn't read Korean books during lessons. A few days later, she handed me an apology letter which failed to issue any apology. Instead, her letter served as advice (for me) on how to be a better teacher.
But what is the root cause of this apparent lack of appropriate behavior? Some students confided (in me) that most students can easily score A or B grades with little effort at the nursing academy. Students needn't do very much in classes to be able to get high grades. If a student insults a senior officer in the cafeteria, then it's deemed a serious offense. However, if a student insults or behaves rudely in class, then the rules of the military don't seem to apply.
As I understand it, nurses need to be trained and educated with vigor and discipline (especially in the Korean Army) because they will serve as responders to crises of serious nature. Failure to perform, as expected, can result in a diminished capacity to properly fulfill their duty. A failure to properly train and educate nursing students in the Korean Army could have negative consequences in how well they perform compared to nursing students in regular colleges. How do they fair in comparison? Since, nurses in the Korean Army attend the academy tuition free, with paid housing and food, and a monthly salary, there is no reason they shouldn’t act and perform (as students) as expected by fully respecting their superiors and teachers and working in classes as regular college students should.
Spokesman for Ralph Nader, Armed Forces Language educator