Conversations with Lieutenant General In-Bum Chun of South Korea


KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 2, 2017) — On Thursday, September 28, Lieutenant General In-Bum Chun of South Korea spent his day touring the Kennesaw campus speaking with future political, business, and humanitarian leaders in the Coles College of Business, College of Health and Human Services, and College of Humanities and Social Science. The first two sessions of the day were primarily for undergraduate students, while the final session was intended for conversations with graduate students, faculty, and staff.

After Dr. Robin Dorff, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, gave his introductions and covered Lt. Gen. Chun's long list of impressive awards, including 3 Legion of Merit medals, one U.S. Bronze Star medal, and the U.S. Special Operations Command medal, the well-decorated Lt. General Chun began his speech with a modest comment, "Medals don't mean anything." He elaborated, "If you want to think you're smart, get a degree. If you want to think you're brave, get a medal. If you want to be kind, it's all in your heart, and that's what matters."

He then went on to explain the differences between South Koreans and Americans. Lt. General Chun identifies Koreans as brave, smart, and competitive over-achievers who believe seniority is the most important credential. Americans, on the other hand, are the most casual country (with regards to seniority), which can be translated into arrogance from the perspective of other countries. However, Lt. Gen. emphasized that Americans are trustworthy. He stressed that it is important for South Korean to remain allies with the United States.

In regards to North and South Korean relations, he feels that the main goals should be: (1) to avoid war, and (2) to spread democratic freedoms to North Korea. To do this, he believes negotiation and long-term 50-100 year sanctions are key. Providing aid to the people of Northern Korea should also be top priority. At this point, in the North/South Korea dialogue, the U.S. only has 3 options remaining: (1) De-nuclearize Northern Korea, (2) Change the regime in Northern Korea, or (3) Negotiate. The first two would involve war, so his overall hope is for the third option for the well-being of the Korean people. He said, "You can't fix a village by burning the village down. Nuclear warfare is the biggest threat that should be avoided."