The Proposal of a New Military Draft Law
Story By: Kevin Kim Editor: Angela Ahn Web Designer: Li June Choi
One of the most controversial issues in Korean society is the mandatory military draft law that requires all able males from age 18 to 35 to serve two years in the military. While most men do serve, the controversy lies in the fact that the privileged few use loopholes to avoid the draft. The list of Koreans who have avoided the draft include wealthy and famous Koreans such as Jay Y. Lee (Vice-Chairman of Samsung Group), MC Mong (Rapper), Steve Yoo (Singer), Seong seung heon (Actor) and hosts of chaebol scions. Even political figures have avoided the draft through family connections as an investigation by prosecutors revealed that a quarter of the National Assembly members have never served in the armed forces.
In response to this unfairness in society, a new law is being proposed that even those who hold dual-citizenship in Korea must finish a two-year mandatory military service. According to the Korean Herald, over 16,000 men who had dual-citizenship gave up their Korean citizenship in order to avoid the draft. This new proposed law would forbid men who hold dual-citizenship from giving up their Korean citizenship and require them to serve in the military. While this sounds controversial, many Korean citizens are supporting it and saying it is about time that the privileged did their part in securing Korea.
To get some perspective on this topic, I interviewed various people in Korea. Youngjin Park (8) said, “I would rather go to the military than lose my Korean citizenship.” I also interviewed a Korean American (who served the US Military) living in Korea whose infant son holds dual U.S. and Korean citizenship. I asked him what he thought about this proposed law and he responded, “This just sounds like the usual scare tactics of Korean politicians trying to get regular citizens to applaud their efforts to make Korean society more equal.” He then added, “Also, it sounds like it will be impossible to enforce (this law) because many dual-citizenship kids go to college overseas and then get a job over there, so how are you going to make them come back to Korea to serve in the military? Sounds ridiculous.”
While this law has just been proposed, it sounds like the lawmakers have a lot more to figure out before it can be applied.