Making the grade as ROTC cadet
By Yun Suh-young
How does a female ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) cadet spend a regular day?
This Saturday marks the first year anniversary of the ROTC at Sookmyung Women’s University, also the first school to adopt the ROTC among the nation’s women’s universities.
A Korea Times reporter shadowed an ROTC cadet at the university for a day.
Take a peek into the life of a female college military officer:
A cadet’s day starts at 5:30 a.m. They gather in front of the schoolyard at 6:30 a.m. and start their morning exercises, the standardized workout at all military units. On Nov. 29, the day this reporter visited the school, fitness tests were scheduled for that morning.
The female cadets underwent physical tests, did sit-ups and push-ups, with their scores reflecting their final grades.
Once finished, they head to breakfast by 7:45 a.m. They have to eat fast ― within 15 minutes.
From 8:00 a.m., they have an hour to prepare for military science class at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. On the other days, the cadets have their own timetables.
On Tuesdays and Fridays they wear their uniforms inside the school. Unlike other days when they are free to wear whatever they want and act like ordinary students, on these two days, the cadets are restricted from certain activities because they’re identified as ROTC.
“We’re not allowed to hold take-out coffee while walking. We’re not allowed to eat street food standing up. We need to sit down when we eat. We also can’t use colored umbrellas. We’re only allowed to use achromatic ones like white, gray or black,” said Kim Hee-yon, 23, battalion leader at the school’s ROTC. It was raining on Nov. 29 and Kim was holding a white umbrella.
For Kim, her day as an ROTC cadet ends around 5 p.m. because that’s when her classes finish. Except for Thursdays, the cadets are free to do what they want until their midnight curfew. On Thursdays they must meet for roll call at 10:00 p.m. They also do a night shift once a month.
The girls seemed to enjoy their ROTC life with a sense of pride in being a cadet.
They seem to be too occupied with their schedules to have a boyfriend though.
“Not many of my colleagues have boyfriends. Even the ones who had boyfriends broke up because they didn’t have time to meet them,” said Kim.
Did all the girls apply for the ROTC aspiring to be a female soldier?
“Not all, but mostly yes,” said the 23-year-old battalion leader. “Many of my friends applied for the ROTC because they wanted to become military officers. Others had fathers who were soldiers. In my case, I didn’t even think of becoming a soldier until I came here. I majored in Korean language and I wanted to be a teacher. But while I was taking a break from school, I decided I needed a change and wanted to challenge myself so I applied for the ROTC. Now I have made up my mind. I want to become a soldier.”
The girl smiled bashfully but her smile still couldn’t conceal her confidence. The 23 year-old looked quite mature and reliable ― giving this reporter hope that the female ROTC’s future will be as bright as her smile.