Defense chief orders improvements to working conditions of junior officers, NCOs

SEOUL, South Korea’s Defense Minister Shin Won-sik called Wednesday for improvements to the working conditions of entry-level officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs), his office said, in a push to boost morale.

Shin made the instruction in his first “letter of command” after taking office last month amid growing concerns of junior service members with five or fewer years of experience increasingly leaving the military due to overwork and relatively low wages.

“Under the urgent recognition that the improvement of working conditions of entry-level officers and NCOs is directly related to national security, the defense ministry is making many efforts,” Shin said.

Shin outlined that his office is pushing to increase wages, raise the cap on overtime hours and improve their accommodations, among other efforts to improve working conditions.

The ministry also set up a consultative body on the issue headed by Vice Defense Minister Kim Seon-ho, with efforts under way to increase monthly allowances to Reserve Officers’ Training Corps candidates.

There are currently 78,000 officers and NCOs with five or fewer years of experience, and they make up around 40 percent of the military’s total number of officers and NCOs, according to the ministry.

Source: Yonhap News Agency