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Pair Joined US Forces to Avoid Korea’s

Posted February. 18, 2006 02:59,   


Controversy is brewing over the fate of two Korean military-aged men recently detained in Korea who joined the U.S. military and acquired U.S. citizenship instead of fulfilling their Korean mandatory military service.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Military Manpower Administration (MMA), the government has been thinking about what action to take regarding the two men who volunteered for the American military without abiding by Korea’s mandatory Military Service Law.

Both of the men were supposed to enroll in the Korean military in 2004, but Mr. A (22) joined the U.S. military in Germany, and Mr. B (21) joined the U.S. military in Korea.

Mr. A, who is currently a U.S. citizen, left Korea prior to his health check-up for military service after registering for permission to travel overseas. He then enlisted in the U.S. military. Last June, he visited Korea from Germany, his service base, for a vacation, and on his way back to Germany he was arrested at the airport and charged with violating Korea’s Military Service Law. Because he did not apply for a postponement after his conscription check-up, the MMA imposed an exit ban on Mr. A.

With his status as an American soldier taken into consideration, his indictment was suspended. But it is reported that he was banned from returning to Germany, and has been waiting for a decision on his status from the Korean government for eight months at the USFK barracks.

Reportedly, Mr. B, a graduate of a foreign high school in Korea, did not even apply for exit permission, but went directly to the U.S. to enlist. He was then selected to work for the USFK. Because he had acquired U.S. citizenship, he did not undergo a conscription check-up either.

The MMA contacted Mr. B.’s family to find out his whereabouts, and heard that he had joined the USFK.

The MMA argues that both men violated the current law, and that it must take legal action. But because of their current status as U.S. servicemen and the unprecedented nature of their cases, the MMA has asked for an “authoritative interpretation” from the Ministry of National Defense.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com