Colonel Yang Seung Sook, the first woman soldier to become a general
For the first time in the 53-year-old history of the Korean military, a woman was promoted to general. Colonel Yang Seung Sook, the nursing officer of the ROK Army Headquarters. Upon hearing of her promotion to general (to take effect from January 2, 2002), the commissioned officers in the nursing corps were ecstatic; the fact that the first woman general came from the nursing arm was more welcome news after the decision in May to maintain the Armed Forces Nursing Academy. Expectations are running high among women groups as well. The Ministry of Gender Equality revealed plans to "take this opportunity to hold further consultations with the Defense Ministry and other relevant government agencies to implement comprehensive and systematic women policies that will strengthen the women's workforce and gender equality education within the military and allow women to look after both career and family." It is said that the two other candidates who were in the limelight together with Colonel Yang, namely Colonels Uhm Ok Sun and Min Gyeong Ja from the combat arm, did not make it due to reasons of health and career records respectively. The women soldiers serving in the combat arm welcome the birth of the first-ever woman general, believing it will "raise social awareness regarding women soldiers as a whole." But they also expressed their worries, pointing out that "selecting a woman general in an arm that is staffed by women may be another way to leave out the women in other arms who have to compete against their male colleagues." Women soldiers are hoping that this first 'star' to have decorated a fellow woman soldier will "pave the way for many more to come."
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