I sort of liked Kim Tae-young. No, not because the military performed well with him as Minister of Defense. In fact, the first thing that comes to mind when evaluating the military’s performance of late is 동네축구 수준.
He was, however, a human quote machine, both as Defense Minister and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — see my archive on him here. Alas, that’s part of the reason he had to go, too: if you talk smack, you really need to back it up, otherwise you’re just inviting trouble.
Not only did Kim fail to back up his public statements (in fairness to him, he wasn’t the commander-in-chief), but the military has been ill-prepared and its performance shoddy (see this series of recent accidents), the behavior of senior officers atrocious, and its handling of public relations so hamfisted that military pronouncements are widely mistrusted, which in turn fuels conspiracy theories. You can see that last point in action in the latest crisis: at first, the military claimed six guns had fired in return. A day later, it was four guns. By Thursday, it was down to three guns, and we learn the AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar didn’t function properly. UPDATED: Oh, and that they detected signs the North might fire, but didn’t think they’d hit the island, and didn’t make clear in their warning message to villagers that the island might come under attack.
Hopefully the next Minister of Defense will get things in order, because truthfully, it’s a disgrace that when young men are fighting and dying to defend their nation, their leaders are supporting them by making a pig’s ear of the situation.