South Korea requires mandatory military service for all Korean males between ages 18 and 35. The period of service averages around 21 months and males usually take time off during college to fulfill this national duty.
Since serving in the military is a requirement for almost half of Korea’s population, there are special rituals, stereotypes and stories associated with mandatory military service.
Back in December of 2015, a picture titled “Units You Want to Avoid When Enlisting in the Army” went viral in the Korean online community. Listed in the picture are units within each rank that are commonly known to be harsh. Those on the list have stereotypically strict code of conduct and incredibly tough training.
For example, soldiers in the “Ottogi” unit (named so, because its symbol resembles the toy with the same name) used to have to walk over 10 kilometers during marching practice in the past. “Ee-gi-ja” unit (which translates to “let’s win”) are infamous for their cruel and rigorous course of training.
By Hajin Lily Yi