Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2013

South Koreans Rip ‘Chicken Hawk’ Politicians As War Rhetoric Heats Up

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By Lee Yoo Eun from Global Voices

South Koreans are taking aim at the increasingly pro-war rhetoric coming from draft-dodging politicians in the country’s government now that North Korea has nullified the armistice between the two Koreas.

Chicken hawk“, meaning someone who is pro-war but has shirked his or her own military duty, has become standard vocabulary for South Koreans online as criticisms of hypocrisy mount against the political class for promoting extreme military action [ko] against North Korea.

Two years of military service is mandatory in South Korea for every able-bodied man, but countless politicians have managed to avoid service. The ruling conservative Saenuri party, many of whom are warmongers, are reported to have a rate three times higher of draft dodgers [ko] than the other parties, and nine out of the new administration’s 17 appointees are facing accusations of [ko] illegally evading military service.

Web users in South Korea retweeted this tweet discussing the country’s chicken hawks more than 255 times:

@odoomark: ’치킨호크(chicken hawk)’라는 말이 있습니다. 자신은 전쟁이 무서워 징집을 기피하면서 남들에겐 국가와 자유수호를 위해 전쟁터에 나가라며 등을 떠민 정치인들을 일컫는 말입니다. 비겁한 사람일수록 두려움을 감추기 위해 용기를 과장하는 법입니다.

@odoomark: The word “chicken hawk” indicates politicians who, though fearing war on the inside, dodged the draft but push others to go to war to fulfill their duty to protect their nation and freedom. The cowards always brag how courageous they are to hide their fear.

Draft-dodging is an epidemic in South Korean society, especially rampant among the upper class who [ko] fake injuries or illness and forge medical documents to corroborate their excuse, or who acquire foreign nationality and stay abroad until the age of 37 to get exempted. It was easy to find angry tweets aimed at them.

A member of the United Nations Command Security Battalion/Joint Security Area (UNCSB/JSA), Scout Platoon, returns from a patrol of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Upload by Flickr user expertinfantry (CC BY 2.0)

A member of the United Nations Command Security Battalion/Joint Security Area (UNCSB/JSA), Scout Platoon, returns from a patrol of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. Upload by Flickr user @expertinfantry (CC BY 2.0)

 @junniya 군미필자들이 나라와 국민들을 전쟁으로 내몰고 있는 형국[...]

@junniya: The draft dodgers are driving the country and people into the war.

@jollymankr: 소위 치킨 호크라는 자들, 전쟁을 모르니까 더 전쟁광이 되는 건 아닌가 하는 생각도 드네요. 말하자면 피는 고사하고 최소한 군대라도 가서 땀도 흘려 본적이 없는 자들이니, 피는 그냥 남들이 흘려주는 거라 생각 하는 거 아닐지.

@jollymankr: The so-called chicken hawks, I think those people are becoming war maniacs since they really don’t get how (terrible) war is. They have never shed blood, not even shed sweat during the mandatory military service. They may think blood-shedding is somebody else’s task.

@chsk92a: 군대도 안간 것들이 전쟁 불사를 외치고 있네. 만일 무슨 일 벌어지면 여기 있는 인물들을 최전방으로 보내야해.

@chsk92a: Those draft dodgers are shouting that they don’t fear and never try to escape a war. If something really happens, we should send those folks to the very frontline of the war.

@LawyerHanWoong: 치킨호크인 이 자들은 그 정체를 숨기기 위해 빨갱이 종북을 입에 달고 사는 경향이 뚜렷합니다!

@LawyerHanWoong: These people always call others “Pro-North Korea, red commies” because they think they can hide the fact that they are the chicken hawks by doing so.

Net users pointed out the parallels between the context behind the term’s usage in the United States and in South Korea:

@peterya: ’치킨호크’. 과거, 전쟁불사를 외치면서도 정작 징집을 기피한 미국 공화당내 매파의원들을 일컫는 말이다. 2013년 대한민국. 씽크로율 100%

@peterya: “Chicken hawk” in the past referred to the hawkish politicians from the Republican party in the US who dodged the draft although they shouted the war cannot be escaped/should not be feared — 100 percent identical to the situation we are having in the year 2013.

@mettayoon: 조지 부시의 ‘테러와의 전쟁’ 때, 미 행정부의 중심축인 이른바 ‘네오콘’들은 알고 보니 모두 ‘치킨 호크’였다고 합니다. [...]지금 새누리의 강경론자들은 어떤가요?

@mettayoon: During George Bush’s War on Terror, some neo-cons who took leading roles in the administration were found out to be “chicken hawks”. And what of the warmongering politicians from the ruling Saenuri party?

As if to prove their point, it was found out that nine out of 17 nominees for the new administration are under allegations [ko] they have illegally dodged the draft. 

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