There was a brief newspaper report that caught my eyes the other day. It was about an old Korean man who was making a meager living by picking garbage, mostly recyclable papers on
streets, and selling them for a few
hundred won. The old man, who is living alone, is a recipient of a bronze medal
from the Seoul
government for his bravery during the Korean War (1950-53). He was a member of
KATUSA (the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army), who were assigned to fight
against the common enemy along with American soldiers. U.S.
Details of his life before his retirement were not disclosed. But the report said he tried to receive the Korean government’s financial support that is given regularly to most veterans who had served in the Korean army during the war. The stipend is said to be not much, but for many old men in situations like his, the sum of money, however small it may be, can help them eke out a living.
But the South Korean government refused to give him the support because the bronze medal he received was an honor bestowed on him by the
and not by ,
the report said. South Korea
When I heard the news, I was puzzled by the
reasoning for rejecting his request. For, regardless of which allied nation has
honored him with a military medal, the fact remains that he had fought bravely
for his country in the war against the invading Communist enemy from the North.
I realize that the government, burdened by perennial budget deficits, is trying to curb its spendings as much as it could. Nevertheless, I believe it shouldn’t begrudge its monetary support for the single veteran who has also risked his life for the country.
Ironically, the government has been more than generous toward the violent anti-government rioters and demonstrators. Since leftist politicians took power with the inauguration of Kim Dae-jung as President of the country in 1998, they have been giving money to the families of those who were killed during their seditious "struggle” against the government and the nation that they claimed was controlled by the "rightist dictators" in the '60s and '70s.
But can any one make sense out of this kind of government policies that refuse to support the old war veterans while paying monetary compensations to the relatives of those who got killed while fighting the nation’s police officers and army troops? It's absurd, to say the least.