Academic journal article Development and Society

Direction for Reforming Reward Policy for Veterans in Korea *

Academic journal article Development and Society

Direction for Reforming Reward Policy for Veterans in Korea *

Article excerpt

Introduction

Soldiers of war and public casualties1 refer to soldiers who are killed or injured while serving their country in armed forces during both peacetime and wartime. South Korea had numerous fatalities and wounded soldiers during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.2 And the country is still losing soldiers to injuries and deaths to accidents caused by perilous conditions for conscripted soldiers.

The constitution of South Korea states that the duty of a soldier is "to pledge the country's security and serve for the defense of the state."3 Hence, on veterans affairs, it is the most fundamental duty of the nation to provide relevant and reasonable compensation to those and the families of those who have sacrificed their lives or well-being for the country's defense. Generally, veterans affairs is defined as national compensation, in both physical and mental forms, for those who have sacrificed themselves for the cause of communal welfare and development, and as the promotion of public remembrance of and reverence for these people (Jong-sung Kim 2005). The purpose and beliefs of Framework Act on Veterans Affairs are as follows: (1) to commemorate the noble spirit of the selfless soldiers of war and public casualties; (2) to guarantee their welfare, as well as the welfare of their family members; and (3) to promote the patriotic spirit of the public. The basic ideology of veterans affairs is to pay tribute to the spirit of those patriots who gave up their lives for their country.

Reflecting the purpose and beliefs of Country veterans, its policymaking is meaningful in three aspects. Firstly, the policies of Veterans affairs serve a symbolic function, which is that of maintaining the unity of the country's people. Public knowledge of the compensation and reverence for sacrifice of soldiers is crucial in the development of patriotism throughout the country, especially in today's climate of growing multi-culturalism. Realizing respect for the sacrifice for the state provides a foundation of the country's unity and further, a national, collective value.4

Secondly, veterans affairs is at the core of the welfare state. It is undoubtedly a country's responsibility to guarantee the mental and physical well-being of its soldiers of war and public casualties, as well as those of their family members. Ignoring the future well-being of those who have sacrificed themselves for the state is a direct violation of the country's most fundamental duty. Thus, welfare policies for soldiers of war and public casualties are the benchmark by which to assess the quality of the welfare system of a state.

Thirdly, the veterans affairs policy consolidates national security, as it is becoming ever more difficult to maintain a patriotic, communal altruism in the midst of intensified materialism and individualism.5 Sacrifice for the country is only possible when citizens are aware of the consequent, guaranteed compensations from the state in return for their sacrifice. If they are concerned with the consequent situation of their family members, they would obviously be hesitant in committing themselves fully when fulfilling their duties and in fear of risking their family member lives. Hence, the state's active implementation and involvement in veterans affairs is the determining factor of a citizen's patriotic spirit, especially in times of a national crisis.

Considering the ideology and purpose of the veterans affairs, the primary subjects of the policy are the soldiers of war and public casualties. The main purpose of this paper is to explore veterans affairs policies for soldiers who are killed or wounded for the country. It is composed of three parts. First part is to figure out the subjects of veterans affairs. South Korea has been expanding the subjects of veterans affairs. We will study the status of highly devotional individuals among the subjects of veterans affairs system through comparing other countries' cases and analyzing South Korean veterans affairs history. …

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