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Mandatory Military Service In South Korea

1381 words - 6 pages

Perkins 1
The armed forces of a country is referred to as the military. This day and age, the military is a huge aspect of many and almost all of the 196 countries today. The military, composed of men and women, are contributing to defending, protecting, and keeping the country functioning. In some cases, where there are not enough volunteers for the military or a threat nearby, a mandatory service is implemented. This means that certain citizens of such country must serve the military for a certain length of time and commit certain duties. For example, South Korea has implemented a mandatory military service due to the communist North Korea it faces. With mandatory military service in South ...view middle of the document...

A very common and recent way for the men to dodge the draft is to have body art done. The South
Korean conscription law rules that “men with large tattoos are unfit for the military because they cause abomination among fellow soldiers (Cosgrove-Mather). The crime of tampering with one’s body to evade service can be punishable with up to 3 years in prison. Although there is no national law against tattoos, South Koreans consider them symbols of disgrace. This is derived from the Old Korea where the authorities would tattoo “Thief” or “Stealer of government money” on foreheads of criminals, slaves wore tattoos on their forearms showing who owned them, and that tattoos are often associated with gangsters. This gangster idea stemmed from Japan, where the “Yakuza,” a Japanese gangster group, would cover their bodies in tattoos from head to toe (Cosgrove-Mather).
Authorities regularly hunt for draft dodgers because many men resort to overeating, fasting, doctoring X-rays to show damaged ligaments or knee cartilage, or even feign insanity. The most recent national case involved authorities seeking draft dodgers where they discovered over 170 men to arrest within a month. A famous and very common known picture in South Korea of these men circulated showing them all lined up, handcuffed, heads bowed and shirts removed to show large scale tattoos along their backs of dragons, scaled fish, birds, and roses. The country’s military junta claimed it was a success in its crackdown and campaign for “social purification” (Cosgrove-Mather). Another factor of having to serve in South Korea’s military is citizenship. Many men also use citizenship to opt out of military service.

Perkins 3
The service includes all Korean men. Whether they are Chinese-Korean or a Korean-American. As long as they are under a Korean family Registrar, they are recruited. By age 18, Korean men under the Korean Family Registrar must postpone military duty or renounce Korean Nationality. All postponements must be made before January 15th of the year they turn 18. All renouncements must be made by March 31st of their 18th year. Many Korean-American men do renounce their Korean nationality since it only includes signing a form. Afterwards however, some try to reclaim their Korean citizenship, but it is very difficult to reclaim it, due to the fact of many dodging the draft as of late. Other exceptions include men who were born in the Republic of Korea but were adopted by parents of United States citizenship, as long as they are naturalized before 18. Some dual citizens are eligible to postpone service until the age of 35, after which they obtain full exemption.
Exemptions and postponements will be cancelled if a report of permanent return from abroad has been filed in accordance with provisions of the Emigration Act. A person who was born abroad, resides in the Republic of Korea upon filing his resident registration. A person who stays in the Republic of Korea for a total of 6 months or...

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