Daum Cafe + $3000 = 4 Years in U.S. Army
This has turned out to be an unexpected opportunity for South Koreans seeking American citizenship, but it could also be a forboding dove-tailing of resources and current events. The Wall Street Journal reports that a little publicized U.S. Army recruiting program has seen their recruiting office inundated with inquiries from South Korean nationals seeking to join the ranks.
From the WSJ:
“The program was authorized without fanfare late last year by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to attract temporary immigrants who speak strategically important languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Korean. The bait: The soldiers could immediately apply for U.S. citizenship, skipping the sometimes decadelong process of securing a green card first.
So many Koreans have applied, however, that the Army doesn’t need them all.
Koreans form the largest group among the 8,000 applicants for the program, launched on Feb. 23. Many have excellent credentials, including degrees in medicine and engineering. Almost all are veterans of South Korea’s own compulsory military service.”
The increase in applications can be traced to James Hwang, a Korean national who learned of the program in its earliest stages. He decided to share all the finer points he learned during his enlistment for a four year active duty (and four years reserve) contract that may take him to duty stations in Iraq or Afghanistan (or heaven forbid, Korea).
More tidbits from the WSJ:
“Mr. Hwang started leading free study sessions live online to prepare applicants for the standardized military entrance exam. “He would give us a lot of homework,” says Mr. Lee, the struggling ice-cream entrepreneur, about the prep classes held three nights a week.
Mr. Lee, who has spiky, gelled hair and is partial to pink polo shirts, served two years as a conscript in Korea. He says joining the U.S. Army doesn’t daunt him.
Neither did the math he needed for the exam. Leafing through pages of algebra, geometry and trigonometry in Mr. Hwang’s study guide, Mr. Lee says, “We learned this stuff in junior high in Korea.”
But the English vocabulary was tough. Mr. Hwang advised his students to make flash cards. He then quizzed them on the meaning of words such as lament, hasten and mangle.”
“In February, Mr. Lee boarded a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York so he could be one of the first in line. He handed over his birth certificate, high-school diploma and college transcripts. He answered an “enlistment prescreening checklist” with questions like, “Do you have all your toes?” and “Have you ever had any body parts pierced?” He answered yes on the first, no on the second.
All told, he made three trips to New York and spent about $3,000 in his quest to enlist. He reports for basic training on Aug. 18 and then will train as a dental technician.”
Although the U.S. Army has expanded the pilot program to their Los Angeles recruiting office, they noted that they have more than enough Koreans to select from and will choose only those who qualify.
For the curious, here’s the link to James Hwang’s [Daum Cafe - USMilitary]