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2 female soldiers first women to join Army's Ranger course

All Headlines 18:13 August 24, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean Army has opened the doors of its Ranger course at its military school to female soldiers for the first time in its history, the Army said Wednesday.

Two female soldiers have been taking part in the excruciating one-month Ranger course offered by the Army Infantry School in the southwest town of Jangseong since Aug. 4.

Sfc. Lee Se-ra, 28, from the 2nd Mechanized Brigade and Sfc. Ji Mi-eun, 29, from the Korea Army Academy arrived at the school to take the course along with 35 of their male counterparts.

Lee and Jin will become the Army's first female Rangers if they successfully complete the course. Jin won medals in the grenade throwing, shooting and 500m hurdle relay events in the world's largest military sports competition that was held in the central South Korean city of Mungyeong last year.

It marks the first time that the Army school has accepted female soldiers for the Ranger course, which was launched in 2013. The school has also taken a step to allow officers in the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps as well as female soldiers to join the course.

The officers who pass the course will serve as teachers for guerrilla warfare training in peacetime with a Ranger tab attached to their uniform and carry out Ranger missions in enemy territory in wartime.

The notoriously difficult Ranger course lasts for four weeks. Candidates enter the first week with guerrilla warfare gymnastics, overcoming hurdles and helicopter exits, which are followed by learning survival tactics, assault tactics and special reconnaissance in the second week. The third week covers infiltration into enemy territory and escape. In the fourth week, they must endure four days of warfare training under extreme metal and physical stress without sleep.

In the latest Ranger course, a total of 147 soldiers from the four branches of the military volunteered for it, but only 37 of them were able to join, with one of the 37 already dropping out.

"I have wanted to become a Ranger in order to crack the prejudiced idea of only men being qualified to do so," Lee, one of the first female Ranger candidates, said. "I wish I could be G.I. Jane in the American film."

The Army school has produced 159 Rangers to date, including the first batch of 55 Rangers in 2013. The rate of Ranger candidates completing the course comes to 53 percent given that a total of 300 soldiers have entered the training program.

namsh@yna.co.kr
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