SEOUL: The South Korean army now has the country's first female Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.
The ROTC in South Korea has been around since 1963 but it is only now that the military has decided to allow female college students to enrol in the program.
60 college students will become South Korea's first female cadets for the ROTC.
They come from seven different universities including Sookmyung Women's University, which was selected to carry out this program.
Military officials said this is currently on a trial basis but will be expanded if it proves to be effective in recruiting good female military personnel.
And these students, like Jung Hee Kyung, are full of confidence.
“I don't think there are things that women cannot do now. And that's why I enrolled in this program. Ever since I was young, I wanted to become a female soldier. Whenever I could, I tried to build up my strength and so I think I will have no problem adjusting to the life of a female soldier,” she said.
Are they worried about the recent attack by North Korea?
“I have dreamt about becoming a female soldier for a long time. Way before the attack on Yeonpyong Island. And so I am not nervous,” said Cadet Kim Bo Hyun.
“However, when people around me heard that I had been accepted for the program, they congratulated me but also voiced concerns. But I am not worried. I reassured them I would become a successful commissioned officer and protect this country so that our people can remain safe.”
In fact, these cadets believe they have more to offer the military than the men.
“I believe that women have better instincts than men and can read the other person better. And so, just in case a war breaks out, I think women will be able to see things better and have the capability to respond better,” said Cadet Jung.
Their parents are also fully behind their decision.
“I am very happy today. When my daughter said she wanted to enter the military, I said go ahead. And I am not worried about her being in the miitary,” said Jung Moon Chae, the father of Jung Hee Kyung.
The female college students will now have to undergo 175 hours of military education and 12 weeks of training at a military training centre. Then, the female ROTC students will have to serve in the military for 28 months.
Currently, it is compulsory for Korean men to do 21 months of military service.
After the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, a group of about 500 female volunteer troops was set up. Now there are slightly more than 6,000 female troops in South Korea. This female ROTC program is expected to help give women more access to the military in South Korea, which is still very much male dominated.
Channel News Asia