The following are my rebuttals to the points that were made in the column.
1. This writer over-estimates the effectiveness of jeongshin kyoyuk (the South Korean military's "psychological education.") In my time in the ROK Army, I learned that they are mostly PowerPoint slides that do nothing more than bore the listeners to tears.
2. That being said, it is not a waste of time. Considering the fact that about half of South Koreans in their 20s seem to think that the Korean War began when the South invaded the North, the Korean military, despite its hamfistedness, is clumsily trying to correct this horrible wrong. Jeongshin kyoyuk can be streamlined and modernized, but it is not a waste of time.
3. "Since weekly sessions still regularly reference President Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee, whose administrations ended more than 50 and 30 years ago, respectively, education is outdated."
As someone who has served in the South Korean Army, I can say with absolute certainty that this was a load of bullshit. I only heard President Syngman Rhee mentioned once when the lecture was about the initial partition of the Korean peninsula and President Park Chung-hee was never even mentioned.
4. The military was not, is not, and will never be a warm and fuzzy organization that just wants the whole wide world to sing Kumbaya. The military's duty is to defend the country from its enemies when all other means fail. And that means it has to train to look at the North Koreans as the enemy and kill them if it is necessary.
5. The North Koreans ARE the enemy. There are a lot of names of young boys etched on the War Memorial, some more recent than others, who were killed by North Koreans.
6. The North Korean system IS inferior. South Korea might not be perfect but unlike what happened in North Korea, millions of South Koreans did not die of starvation.
7. There are many reasons that North Korean defectors face many challenges in adapting to life in South Korea. Jeongshin kyoyuk is not one of them. The military states emphatically that North Korea is the enemy, but it has nothing but sympathy for North Korean defectors who are able to make it across.
8. Reunification policies come and go as politicians come and go. The Sunshine Policy was a disaster and this so-called Reunification Bonanza was nothing more than political posturing that was full of unsubstantiated irrational exuberance. It will have an even shorter footnote than the Sunshine Policy.
In the meantime, the North Koreans have thousands of artillery pieces aimed at Seoul (see here and here), various WMDs, and a huge special forces unit that has been trained to kill as many South Koreans as indiscriminately as possible.
So excuse me if I roll my eyes at this nonsensical sentimentalism in NK News and continue to view the North Koreans as a mortal threat to my country.