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Recognize Those Who Served Their Country

Posted October. 12, 2010 11:05,   


Rapper MC Mong was deemed fit for duty by the military in his first physical for conscription. He delayed serving seven times, however, with excuses such as preparing for a civil service exam, job training and overseas trips. He was exempted from the draft after having three healthy teeth pulled in 2007, but was later caught. Nine break dancers also weaseled their way out of serving their country by feigning mental illness, but were caught in May this year. In January, five soccer players intentionally dislocated their shoulders to avoid the draft.

As many as 143 entertainers, break dancers and athletes have been caught dodging military service over the past five years. Most of them learned how to do so from their predecessors. Korean men dislike military service to the degree that a former president said, “The military is a place where you rot.” Those who did not serve are called “sons of God,” while those who did are dubbed “sons of darkness.” Many Koreans try to get their sons out of military service by giving birth abroad or have them study abroad. The hasty plan to cut the service period to 18 months stemmed from the wrong perception.

Many high-ranking officials including the president, prime minister and party leaders never served in the military. It is hard to count how many did not because of the high number. Even a man who dodged the draft by cutting his finger went on to be elected governor of a province. Young people serving in the military and their parents have every reason to be angry over this. President Lee Myung-bak needs to select those with noblesse oblige related to national security for important government posts. The leader of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party, Lee Hoi-chang, also lost the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections primarily because his two sons did not serve.

The government from next year will slash the number of global music competitions that can earn a man draft exemption if he wins from 123 to 30, but the standards for exemptions in other fields should be stricter. For example, the sports circle urges exemptions for athletes when they show good results in global competitions.

Serving in the military is possible only with a healthy body and mind. Having served one’s country itself can be considered competitiveness that former soldiers can be proud of. It is an honor to protect one’s family, country and people on the frontlines. The military also offers opportunities to learn patience, responsibility, leadership and practical skills. Since many youths get a new mindset after serving, one saying has it that one becomes a real man only after serving in the military. Men do not simply rot in the military. Those who served should receive respect given their contributions to their country and their individual competitiveness.