News: KATUSAs exercise rights as Soldiers and citizens
Story by Cpl. Dong-weon Kim
DAEGU, South Korea – The 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Soldiers, or KATUSAs, voted for the 6th Provincial election May 30.
While June 4 is the official Provincial Election Day in the Republic of Korea, 54 KATUSAs participated in the advance poll, exercising their voting rights. KATUSAs are often geographically separated from their voting districts and the advanced polling ensures their votes successfully arrive in time to be counted.
In the early morning, KATUSA Soldiers wearing their Army combat uniforms were aligned in front of the Nam-gu Community Service Center waiting to cast their votes for the new political leaders of their hometowns including mayors and superintends of education.
National Election Commission agents were first amazed at the formation of KATUSAs. As the agent’s curiosity expanded they asked questions of the Soldiers.
“I feel proud of the KATUSAs voting for the advance poll and it is actually my first time seeing a troop of Soldiers all voting together,” said Lee Jae-suk, a National Election Commission agent. “It was a unique and great experience talking to them.”
Sgt. Kim Hyun-woo, 19th ESC senior KATUSA, said it was a privilege to lead the formation to the polling site. Kim has been the senior KATUSA for only a month but felt this event was meaningful in developing his responsibility as a troop leader. He also emphasized the importance of the occasion.
“Voting is a fundamental right for all Koreans including Soldiers like us. I believe voting also displays the very basics of democracy,” said Kim.
The newest KATUSAs also took part in the nation-wide affair. Some of them having only recently arrived at their units, the chance to participate in a familiar activity boosted their confidence. This election, however, was different as they were now fulfilling their military obligation while still participating in the democratic process.
“Although it was a rough week adjusting to a new military environment, I am very proud of myself as a Korean national to fulfill duties as both a Soldier and a voter,” said Pvt. Kang Gyu-min, 19th ESC G-3 transportation specialist. “I am determined to accomplish my given duties with the courage I gained.”
As Korean civilians across the country head to the polls the early voting process protects the KATUSAs rights as they serve protecting their nation.