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Number of Kidney Patients Increases Sharply in Military Medical Check-ups

Number of Kidney Patients Increases Sharply in Military Medical Check-ups

Posted September. 08, 2004 21:54,   


As some 130 retired and active professional baseball players and people in the entertainment business are being accused of manipulating urine test results in order to avoid mandatory military service, it turns out that there has been a large increase in the number of people with kidney diseases among those who were examined for the conscription.

Considering the fact that the number of the examined has been decreasing in recent years, and that only the number of the kidney patients were sharply augmented while the number of those with other medical ailments remained pretty much the same, it can be interpreted that kidney ailments are being misused as a new means to avoid obligatory military duty.

Consequently, it is highly suspected that there must be more brokers other than the ones arrested – only identified by their family names, Woo and Kim – who helped their clients to dodge compulsory military service by faking urine tests during medical check-ups.

According to a white paper of the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) obtained by the Dong-A Ilbo on September 8, the number of people who were declared to be kidney ailment patients rose from 991 in 2001 to 2,648 in 2002. In 2003, 2,297 of the examined young men had kidney problems, and 1,687 people had them in 2004 as of the month of August.

On the other hand, the number of those afflicted by other illnesses remained at last year’s level. There were less hepatitis patients in 2003 than in 2002, dropping from 13,758 in 2002 to 11,362 in 2003. The number of people with back problems dropped insignificantly, from 1,794 in 2002 to 1,681 in 2003.

The number of people whose medical examination results were postponed because of kidney problems is on a steady rise. The number of those who received a level seven diagnosis, enough to be exempted from the military service, was 415 in 2001, 467 in 2002, 615 in 2003, and 878 in 2004 up until August.

In the corresponding period, the number of people who have went through the medical check-up procedure has been waning, with 398,000 in 2001, 367,000 in 2002, 329,000 in 2003, and 225,000 in 2004 as of August.

With this being the case, some say that the MMA had been neglecting the issue of the rising number of kidney patients since 2002.

The MMA intensively monitors 13 categories of physical disadvantages, including atopic dermatitis, tattoo, spinal and optical defects, and kidney ailments. These diseases are thought to be relatively easy to be manipulated, and thus, extensive medical check-ups are required for these maladies.

An MMA official said that since the number of the people exempted from the military service because of kidney problems has steadily remained at around 490 per year, and that this would not become much of an issue.

Lee Jae-jun of a civic group advocating transparency in the military conscription procedure said that in reality, more and more people are trying to find a loophole in the law to dodge military service. As the criminals use more and more intelligent ways to elude the law, the government should reinforce the current system, Lee added.

The Crime Investigation Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said on September 8 that it would expand the scope of its investigation as soon as they obtain related data on the exempted people because of kidney disease.

The police summoned and interrogated nine professional baseball players, including a pitcher, Park of the Hyundai Unicorns, on Wednesday. As soon as the investigation is over, the police plan to request an arrest warrant on a charge of violating the military service law.

Also, as three professional baseball players of Hyundai and Doosan Bears have reportedly decamped and fled in recent days, the police are trying to find out their whereabouts.

The police asked the Ministry of Justice to put a ban on 29 accused people, including 20 professional baseball players, from leaving the country.

The police plan to subpoena comedian “Shin,” who has just returned to Korea from China. The police announced that the brokers received money with different price ranges based on the income of the players.

Former Major Leaguer Cho Jin-ho, now with the SK Wyverns, and Hyundai’s first-string starting pitcher “Ma” paid 50 million won, respectively, and Doosan’s farm hand “Sohn” gave 10 million won to their brokers, according to the police.