Posted November. 13, 2009 08:01,
The Defense Ministry said yesterday that it could allow women to volunteer as rank-and-file soldiers.
A ministry official said the government will conduct a general study of the military service system in 2011. A decision on a new system will come after consideration of the long-term supply of military resources.
The volunteer system for women is different from the draft system for men, a ministry spokesman said. We need to consider the womens volunteer system in connection with the (existing) non-commissioned officer system for women because female volunteers will receive compensation.
The National Assembly and certain civic organizations have debated over the proposed introduction of the female volunteer system, but this is the first time for the ministry to officially announce that it will study such a system.
The plan is expected to spark heated debate over womens military service along with the controversy over giving additional points for men who apply for public positions after finishing their mandatory military service.
Women at this time can only serve as officers or non-commissioned officers in the military.
The ministry and the Military Manpower Administration expect to a shortage of personnel after 2020, when the number of troops will be reduced to some 510,000 from 680,000 under a defense reform plan.
Therefore, certain experts say that even if the womens volunteer system is introduced, it will not be implemented before July 2014, when the mandatory draft period will be cut to 18 months from 24.