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Korea to increase female ROTC cadets

The Ministry of National Defense plans to increase the number of female Reserved Officers’ Training Corps cadets in efforts to secure more talented female military officers, officials said Sunday.

The ROTC program, a college-based officer commissioning program, opened to females last year with the selection of 60 cadets, receiving generous reviews.

“More empowered women in the barracks will bring up the national defense capability,” President Lee Myung-bak said last month.

The 60 female cadets are undertaking two-year military education and training to begin their 28-month service as the first female ROTC officers in 2013.

The ministry has also decided to appoint 5.6 percent of its commissioned and non-commissioned officers with women by 2016, four years earlier than the initial plan, the officials said.

The number of female ROTC cadets was taken from the 220 seats allotted for Women’s Army Corps officers. It means the number of female soldiers recruited through graduation from military academies or job openings for university graduates in 2013 will be reduced to 160. Some have voiced concern that the stiff quota could a form of sexual discrimination.

Authorities, therefore, decided to share the male ROTC cadet’s annual quota of 4,000 with women. They also decided to place women in posts equal to those of their male peers after they finish training.

“Currently, the female officer-hopefuls are scheduled to be placed at administrative departments. But, in the future, we will allocate them to much tougher positions alongside their male peers,” a ministry insider was quoted by saying by the Yonhap news agency.

The ministry also said it will appoint 11,570 commissioned and non-commissioned officers with females by 2020, which is equivalent to 6.3 percent of the total. It means that securing females as 5.6 percent of the high-ranking officers will be achieved by 2016, four years earlier than planned. Currently, there are 6,162 female officials in the army, about 3.5 percent of the total.

“The number of commissioned female officers will jump to 4,987 from the current 3,111 and non-commissioned officers will rise to 6,538 from the current 3,051 within 10 years, which will represent huge progress for the military department,” the insider said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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