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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

South Korea has reconsidered the rite of manhood: draft

Seoul – Kim Hyongsu performed poorly in his rifle qualification test for the South Korean military, to the point where he was punished for wasting government bullets. An officer ordered him to stage a coup, shouting repeatedly, “I’m a tax loser!”

In basic training in 2011, Mr Kim said, other military trainees sprayed hand sanitizer on each other’s faces and genitals. Discouraged, one fled and was recaptured within hours.

Mr. Kim completed his service in 2013. But when he, like practically all South Korean men, was recalled to duty as a reservist in 2014, he declined – and joined a growing number of people in the country who question its legacy. are picking up. compulsory military service.

“I recruited because I didn’t believe I could spend the rest of my life as an ex-convict,” said Mr Kim, 32, a peace activist and conscientious objector. “But it was painful to live in such a violent organizational culture that I had no intention of adopting.”

South Korea, a country still technically at war with the North, is reconsidering the draft. A sacrament to millions of youth since the Korean War, the country’s military recruitment policies are slowly dying out.

Legislators are giving more discounts. Few conscientious objectors can evade criminal records. Some leaders want to include women to make up for the reduction in rank, while others want to do away with the draft altogether.

“The price we pay is going up,” said Kang Inhwa, a research professor of history at Seoul National University.

Recruit has long been seen as a shield against threats from North Korea, which has, at least in numbers, a strong army. In addition to its nuclear weapons, the North has 1.88 million troops, 1.28 million active and 600,000 in reserve, and it likes to show its brutality. A military build-up in China has increased pressure on Seoul to strengthen its military.

South Korea is one of the few industrialized countries that still drafts its youth. According to a Pew Research analysis from 2019, less than a third of the world’s countries actively enlist their people in the military. Taiwan phased out compulsory recruitment in 2018. In the United States, the military draft is authorized but not currently implemented.

South Korea has stepped up its pace as other places have retreated, as its rapidly declining birth rate has led to a shortage of troops. Its army is one of the largest in the world with approximately 3.3 million troops, with 555,000 active and 2.75 million in reserve. To cope, it has expanded the proportion of young men by reducing eligibility requirements, from about 50 percent in the 1980s to more than 90 percent today.

As the recruitment has increased, so has the attitude of the public. In a survey conducted in May by Gallup Korea, 42 percent of South Korean adults said they support maintaining the current recruitment system – a decrease of 6 percentage points from 2016.

A few years before that, in 2014, a majority of people surveyed by Monoresearch – about 56 percent – said the recruitment system should be maintained.

Critics of South Korea’s recruitment system have said that it has helped develop an institution riddled with abuse and discrimination and that it has kept men at its core from the labor force.

Earlier this year, a Netflix show in South Korea became an unexpected hit critically. Called “DP” for the runaway chase, it follows a fictional private who is assigned to capture deserters, whose stories portray the emotional toll of recruits.

Although the military has said it will stop sending its personnel to capture the desert starting next year, the show resonated with many viewers and even prompted some politicians to weigh in. did.

Hong Joon-pyo, a candidate in next year’s presidential election and a legislator from the opposition People Power Party, said on Facebook that he had seen the show and was in favor of shifting the military to an all-volunteer force.

“What the ‘DP’ showed was a symbolic picture of why the recruitment system had to change,” said Kwon In-suk, a lawmaker from the governing Democratic Party, who said he supported the transition to an all-volunteer army. “This shows how military culture is sometimes completely removed from our basic sensibilities.”

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Hundreds of fans on social media said that the abuse shown resonated with their own traumatic experiences in the military. A bystander said he was beaten in the chin, cheeks and head and was subjected to hate speech in private. At one point, he said, things got so bad that he wanted to die.

A strict recruitment stance still has its supporters. South Korean men who live abroad and who have not served in the military are eligible to be drafted upon their return home until the age of 36. A bill in the National Assembly would change that cutoff date to age 45. If they refuse to serve, they shall be liable to imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years.

Still, South Korean officials are arranging discounts, while recruitment rates have increased. The government has reduced the length of service, which varies by branch, by several months; paved the way for conscientious objections to elective service in a civilian setting; and postponed military service until age 30 for top K-pop stars.

The draft has long been upheld by the idea that all men should serve in the military. Draft Dodgers are often stigmatized and isolated from their families and friends. Mr Kim, the conscientious objector, said he still hasn’t told his parents.

Myungjin Moon, 37, declined to serve in 2010 because he objected to military intervention in Iraq, where South Korea had sent troops as part of a US-led coalition. He was jailed for 15 months in 2011. He said his parents once told him that he “made the wrong friends and became a mate.”

Those who survive the draft may face severe punishment. Mr Kim was sentenced to six months in prison, one year of probation and 400 hours of community service, in addition to a fine of about $677. He added that if he completes his community service while on probation, he will not need to spend time in prison. He also faces an ongoing trial for another charge since 2016, which could result in an additional fine.

According to the government, an average of 600 to 800 people object to military service every year. The vast majority are Jehovah’s Witnesses, but some, such as Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon, object on political or personal grounds. Last year, authorities began allowing some conscientious objectors to perform public service while in prison and refrained from putting criminal charges on their records.

Despite growing public uneasiness over recruitment, South Korea has not been able to reach a consensus on whether to replace it or eliminate it altogether. Gallup Korea found that 43 percent of South Koreans supported transferring to an all-volunteer army, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2016.

According to Gallup Korea, Ha Tae-keung, a legislator from the People Power Party, suggests drafting women, which is favored by 46 percent of adults, compared to 47 percent of adults.

“If men and women are prepared together, then an army can be formed with more suitable people for this,” Mr. Ha said.

Even the defenders of the army say that the army should take steps to make the service more attractive.

The number of men in their 20s is expected to halve by 2040, said researcher Ahn Seok Ki of the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis. This means the military cannot field the number of people it needs unless it encourages recruits to stay longer and inspires more volunteers to join.

“The recruitment system must be maintained,” he said. “Switching to an all-volunteer system is impractical. But it is possible to reduce the number of recruiters and increase the number of volunteers.”

“To do so,” he said, “will have to make a lot of changes to make the military more suitable for the younger generation.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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