About 83 percent of Korean citizens agreed that those who have fulfilled their military duties should be offered benefits, showed a recent survey conducted by the Military Manpower Administration.
Among the 1,500 respondents who answered in November-December last year, 87.1 percent of the men and 78.7 percent of the women supported policies to offer social or financial benefits to people who have served the military.
Also, 61.8 percent of the respondents also agreed that they could also be given financial compensation, though the amount largely varied from 2 million won ($1,709) to 10 million won per year.
The survey marked the 10th year since the extra credit system was abolished in December 1999 upon the Constitutional Court`s ruling that it was against gender equality. The system involved giving extra points to men who have served the army in civil servant examinations.
Some 68 percent of those who approved of reintroducing the system said that people who have dutifully served to defend the country should be given compensation.
Another 24.1 percent said that it may provide the soldiers with moral momentum and pride.
Among those who opposed the system, however, 42.2 percent claimed that it is a clear discrimination against women or men who have not joined the army.
Others (23.3 percent) said that the extra credit should be substituted with other forms of benefits. Some (10.3 percent) also said that those who have served in the army were already offered de facto advantages in salaries and thus need not be given surplus credit.
"Despite the improved military environment, men still have much to lose by joining the army in terms of their school life and career," said Lee So-yeon, a 25-year-old female in support of the financial compensation plan.
"My male classmates may only start off their career at age 26-27 on average, as do most of the Korean men, and this creates a certain gender imbalance in our society."
The state may require its citizens to fulfill their military duties but need to make up for the losses, especially for the lost time, Lee said.
"Though I have little to gain from such extra credit or compensation policies, I would not want my brothers or future husband to pay for the consequences of their past military service," she said.
By Bae Hyun-jung