Having served as the Head Nursing Officer in the Military Capital Hospital and as the Principal of the Armed Forces Nursing Academy since her appointment as the 29th class of nursing officers in 1973, Colonel Yang Seung Sook is well known among the nursing officers as a "big-hearted person." In particular, she is recognized for the effort she poured into saving the Armed Forces Nursing Academy from extinction while serving as the Principal of the Academy. Her efforts bore fruit in the government's announcement in May to maintain the Academy. Colonel Yang has been in the limelight both in and out of the military since she received the honor of becoming the first-ever woman general in Korea. The Women's News met Colonel Yang to hear about her present feelings and future ambitions.
- No one knew the outcome of the deliberations on military personnel until it was announced. How do you feel about becoming the first woman general in Korea?
"There were a lot of very capable people on the candidate list, and I want to thank the state and the military for giving me the honor. I believe that the promotion is thanks to the efforts of the Nursing Academy, Military Hospital, and all the women soldiers as well as women groups. Being the first-ever woman general is a great honor that carries equally great responsibility. I will try to represent the voices of the 2,400 women soldiers and do my best."
- The nursing officers must be proud of the fact that the nursing arm produced a general. What is the role of the nursing arm within the military?
"The medical corps took part in the Korea War, was also dispatched during the Vietnam War and Gulf War, and is part of the UN Peace Keeping Forces. The duties of the nursing arm are not limited to nursing ill or injured soldiers. We are responsible for the overall health of the entire military, with nursing officers posted at each army to check on the soldiers' health, prevent diseases and maintain sanitary standards."
- The traditional role of women as wives and mothers still act as obstacles to the social activities of women. As a mother of two, don't you find it hard to live the life of a soldier?
"I don't think that you should give up your social activities just because you think family is important. I have dedicated myself to my family while remaining within the boundaries of my duties as a soldier."
- Cases of sexual violence in the military became an issue early this year and served to reveal the difficulties faced by women soldiers.
"The nursing arm is in an advantageous position when it comes to helping to solve the problem of sexual violence. Nursing officers posted to each unit take charge of not only health affairs but also preventive education and counseling for cases of sexual abuse. I believe this is one of the roles that I can take on as a general for the benefit of women soldiers."
- Your post has not been decided yet. What kind of role do you wish to play as a general?"
"I would like to meet the expectations of the state and the military by working to improve welfare and working conditions in the entire military. And since I also have the honor of being the first-ever woman general, I would like to contribute to the development of policies regarding women soldiers."