Thursday, April 26, 2007

Running Out of Military Heroes...?

A new Aegis destroyer in South Korea will be named King Sejong. Yes, King Sejong is the father of the system of Hangul characters. S. Korea's new Aegis destroyer to be named King Sejong:Navy

The article also says, "KDX-I light destroyer ships are called King Gwanggaeto class, while the larger KDX-II class ships are called Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin. Gwanggaeto, one of the greatest kings in Korean history, is remembered for expanding the territory of the Goguryeo Kingdom. Yi Sun-sin was a legendary admiral who helped repel Japan's invasion of Korea in the late 16th century. South Korea has three King Gwanggaeto and six Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin destroyers."

Both King Gwanggaeto and Yi Sun-sin are famous military generals in Korean history. But King Sejong is more of a scholarly type... Is there no more military figure adequate for Aegis ships? It seems the choice was between King Sejong or a diplomat ("Originally, the Navy had said the first ship of the Aegis destroyers would be named Ahn Yong-bok, after a civilian-diplomat who helped settle territorial disputes over Korean islands in the East Sea with Japan in the late 17th century'). What would the Navy personnel's reactions like if they decided to go with Ahn Yong-bok considering the contemporary dispute that Korea has with Japan??


Erin Robinson said...

I think the individuals that they chose show an interesting priority in their self-conception. We discussed this some early in the class. The Korean military and government are very determined, it seems, to highlight military strength, expansion, or independence. The rejected choice of a civilian diplomat who improved relations with Japan would have been very interesting. I think it would depend on how he is viewed. Is he seen as having lost territory to Japan? Or is he pereceived as having won in the negotiations? Because if he's perceived as having succeeded in wrangling territory out of the Japanese, that could explain why he would be a respected enough figure to have a ship named after him.

Sean said...

Isn't there a tradition of naming war ships after leaders? In England, aren't they all called HMS fill in the blank? And in the U.S., I think our warships are named after states or Presidents. I seem to remember something about commissioning the USS Ronald Reagan not too long ago. I don't think Carter or Clinton have one, though. And I think each class of ships is named after a famous admiral, like the Nimitz class.