Military life can be a struggle for anyone, no matter where you’ve served or what country you’re serving for. The stresses of hard work, education, and constant travel can be rough on many people. This is especially true when family becomes part of the equation, and it only gets more difficult from there. However, as Major Eunyoung Hwang (CQ) of South Korea proves, finding a strong balance between all of these issues can be achieved.
Hwang, 35, is an officer in the Korean Army and full-time mother of one son, 7, visiting the U.S. as a student of Pima Community College. As a ten-year member of the Korean armed forces, she teaches soldiers about Korean democracy and relations between the United States and Korea. Hwang recently traveled here for the first time as of August, and currently, she studies to learn English for both herself and her child during the six months she’s taken off for leave.
Hwang was born and raised in Kyunggi-do (CQ, Romanized as Gyeonggi-do), a province of South Korea near the capitol of Seoul. She describes her childhood there as “ordinary”, having lived in a high school dormitory for three years, until leaving at the age of 16. An independent person who took care of all her own financial responsibilities, she entered Seoul’s Korean Military Academy in 1998. “I saw it as a great opportunity for women entering the military,” she said when asked about some of the reasons that motivated her, as well as the prospect for furthering her education and learning Chinese.
Since graduating from the KMA in 2003, Hwang has majored in International Relations. Her thesis on the comparison between past and present leadership in Korean politics has since earned her a Master’s degree. During her tenure as a KMA instructor, she also speaks to and informs journalists about U.S.-Korean public relationships, instances and occasions in the Army, as well as how to enlist. After graduating, she traveled around the world during different tours to China, Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. In addition, she presently attends church three times a week, and volunteers with feeding the youth of her community, as well as teaching them to speak Korean more fluently.
Although Hwang expressed happiness with being able to experience as much she has, she noted that keeping this busy does not come easy, and is also difficult to balance it with family life. Her husband is a retired Major in the Korean Army, who recently separated in June for these reasons. Together they share a 7-year-old-son. To make things easier, however, Hwang’s parents also reside in the U.S., who have also helped take care of the child for the last five years. As of now, Hwang is staying with a close friend, who attends the University of Arizona to pursue a phD.
Hwang expressed interest in traveling to new places as far as future plans went, once she’s finished with the Army. Even with the stresses of military life and education posing a significant challenge, the roads she’s taken thus far and the successes that have come along with it help to ensure that this goal will be an achievable one.