January 10, 2023
SEOUL – South Korean men seek new options to avoid their two-year mandatory military service, and the number of draft dodgers continues to grow.
According to data provided by Rep. Song Gab-seok of the Democratic Party received from the Military Manpower Administration, 578 people were turned over to prosecution for intentional draft dodging from 2012 until Nov. 30 last year.
Recently, volleyball player Jo Jae-sung was charged with contacting a local military broker to help him show false symptoms of epilepsy during a military reexamination. He was then deemed unfit to serve as a soldier due to this fake health issue, allowing him to serve as a social service agent as an alternative form of service.
The broker he had come in contact with was arrested last month for violating the Military Service Act.
Professional athletes in the fields of soccer, horse riding and bowling are also under investigation for attempting draft evasion with the broker. The names of the others have not been revealed.
On Monday, prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for another military broker, only identified by the surname Kim, for helping the draft dodgers fake disabilities that would disqualify them from their duties.
Under the current conscription system, those in grades one, two and three are eligible to enlist for active duty service. Those in grade four can serve for supplemental or second citizen service, and those in grade five are enlisted as second citizen service.
Those excused from military service due to health issues are categorized at grade six, and those in grade seven are unable to be graded due to disease or illness.
Local media outlets reported a man tried to raise his blood pressure through heavy smoking and requested for change of military service, where he received grade four.
In 2020, a man showed fake symptoms of wrist pain after being injured during arm wrestling and was later diagnosed by the military as having a congenital deformity. The court found him guilty of intentionally deceiving the doctor to receive a grade six.
A case in 2021 showed that a man purposely scratched his skin with his nails to cause hives and rashes. He received grade four but was later charged with breaching the Military Service Act.
All able-bodied South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve in the country’s armed forces for about 18-21 months.