|▲ poor meal service (source: Facebook ‘The Army Training Center will deliver on your behalf’)|
On May 8th, a post with a picture of the breakfast at the Army Training Center was posted on Facebook. The caption said, “Today’s breakfast menu for the 39th. The soup is shit. There is no laver. The yellow side dish is steamed egg. I feel depressed so I give information about it." The pictured foods are rice, steamed egg and kimchi. Along with this post, additional posts were made about the poor meal service within the military, drawing the wrath of netizens.
The Campus Journal conducted a survey from May 25th to 28th to collect the opinions of Changwon National University students about the poor meal service in the military. When asked the question “Do you know about the poor meal service in the military? ”90.7% answered "yes". When asked “How did you learn about it?” 65.1% said, "Media such as news articles", and 48.8% said "SNS". Most people heard of the poor meal service through the media, but 20.9% said they knew of it through "direct experience", and 14% said they learned of it through an “acquaintance”. So there are many people who have experienced poor meal services both directly and indirectly. It seems that awareness of the poor meal services helped fuel the anger and credibility of the claims about the poor meal service not only because of the viral Facebook post, but also because of the first-hand experiences of people.
When asked "What do you think is the main cause of poor meal service?" the majority of people responded ‘embezzlement’ (69.8%). ‘Closed environment’ was 37.2%. Most thought some irregularity would occur in the closed environment. However, 32.6% answered ‘insufficient budget’ and 23.3% answered ‘Failed distribution control’. So some students clearly believe that systemic issues need to be corrected. Some students also suggested ‘absence of professionals, miscalculations and supply problems within the military that may change or reduce menu, and executive corruption' may be the root of the problem. When asked, ‘How do you think the meal service could be improved?’, an overwhelming 55.8% responded ‘embezzlement surveillance’. This is probably because most respondents stated that they believe the cause of the poor meal service is ‘embezzlement’. Other suggestions to include the meal service included ‘improvement of human rights’ at 14%, ‘increased budget’ and ‘expansion of cooking system’ at 11.6%, respectively. Some students also suggested, ‘put in nonofficial workers and increase the number of army cooks’, others suggested the ‘use of professional external personnel’. Looking at the overall results of the questionnaire, respondents thought the main cause of poor meal service was ‘embezzlement’, and believed ‘embezzlement surveillance’ could improve the poor meal service. However, some respondents considered systematic parts such as budget shortages and human resources, so the cause of poor meal services may be complex.
The Facebook post of the poor meal service was an example of the typical quality of the meal service. The meal in the photograph was richly composed. It was full of rice and side dishes, and there were desserts such as milk, beverages, salads, instant noodles, and bread. Looking at this exemplary meal service shows that the problem of poor meal service is not an unsolvable problem.
Multi-faceted efforts are needed to resolve the problem of poor meal service. To improve this, the Military Authority is promoting measures to increase the number of private cooks by about 40%, and the Ministry of Defense is considering a plan to hire 900 private cooks. The total number of private cooks currently working is about 2,200, but if new hires are made, the number of private cooks will increase by about 41% to about 3,100. On the other hand, since there were many opinions suggesting that the poor meal service could be improved by embezzlement surveillance, it is expected that the surveillance will be conducted more thoroughly. As soon as possible, a variety of efforts will continue to provide a nutritious meal to soldiers who are making many efforts to protect the Republic of Korea.
By An So-yeon, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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