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Ex-SKorean defense chiefs, generals demand presidential apology over derogatory remarks

Ex-SKorean defense chiefs, generals demand presidential apology over derogatory remarks

Former defense ministers and generals demanded an apology Tuesday from President Roh Moo-hyun for his recent remarks denouncing them for failing to retake wartime command of South Korean troops from the U.S.
In a speech last week _ marked by an outpouring of emotion including banging on a table _ Roh heavily criticized former defense chiefs and generals for opposing his push to retake wartime control, which has rested with a U.S. general under a joint command system since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Roh said the move was the right thing to do and long overdue for a sovereign country, and accused former top defense officials of "neglecting their duties" while acting "haughtily with stars" on their shoulders.
"Shame on you!" Roh told a meeting of the presidential advisory committee on unification affairs on Thursday.
Speaking about the country's compulsory military service, Roh also said he was trying to improve the system so that young South Korean men don't have to "rot" in the military for years.
On Tuesday, South Korea's largest association of former generals demanded that Roh apologize and retract the remarks, accusing him of insulting the military and belittling the "sacred" duty of national defense.
"We, who dedicated our whole lives for national security, cannot contain our disappointment and anger," the association said in a statement read at a news conference attended by some 50 members of the association, including about a dozen former defense ministers.
They also demanded the government stop trying to retake wartime control and shorten the compulsory military service period.
Currently, all physically fit South Korean men are required to serve in the military for about two years.
The wartime command issue is a hot topic in security-sensitive South Korea, which faces the communist North across the world's most heavily fortified border. Critics, including the former defense officials, claimed the plan was premature and would undercut deterrence against the North.
The government agreed with Washington in October to transfer the command sometime between 2009 and 2012.
About 29,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against the North, the legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.


Updated : 2021-03-04 14:58 GMT+08:00