Murphy's Law: Half-Breeds in Uniform

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February 14, 2006: Facing a public relations disaster, South Korea will now allow mixed race Korean men to join the military, although they will not be subject to the draft. This came about because a Korean-American, Hines Ward, was voted the Most Valuable Player after his team won the recent Superbowl. Sports and macho men are very popular in South Korea. Also popular is any Korean who achieves fame and fortune outside the country. But in Korea, and throughout the rest of East Asia, "racial purity" is a big deal. Thus for a long time, any young man who was "clearly" of mixed race, was not allowed into the South Korean armed forces. Hines Ward has an American father and Korean mother. With pride in Hines Ward achievement, came news stories of the abuse mixed race children, especially those with American soldiers as their fathers, receive in Korea. Thus the change in the army regulations. At the same time, the army pointed out that it had never had any mixed race Koreans volunteer to join the army.

The Hines Ward situation is similar to that of Tiger Woods, who's father was an Army Special Forces officer, while his mother was Thai. As Woods became a golfing superstar, the issue of his "mixed blood" became less of an issue in Thailand. Actually, the Thais are a bit less hung up on the pure blood thing than the Koreans, or Japanese (who are really uptight about it.) This close attention to ones genealogy is something most Americans get away from a generation or so after they arrive. By then, most Americans have mixed it up in the "racial purity" department, and look upon that diversity as an asset (which, in strictly scientific terms, it is).

 


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