Results of Defense Ministry survey more divided on financial support
Nearly 80 percent of the public support the re-installment of a military duty employment plan, previously abolished for being unconstitutional, according to a Defense Ministry survey released Thursday.
Working to gain parliamentary approval for the system, the ministry released a survey showing that 79.4 percent of the 508 men and 515 women asked were in favor of reinstalling compensation for soldiers for completing their compulsory duty.
When asked why they are for the employment plan, 64 percent believed that those finishing their duty deserve appropriate compensation.
But despite the survey results, many of those exempt from military duty, mainly women and disabled people, are against the bill currently in parliament, arguing that it is discriminatory and called for alternative welfare programs.
The public was divided in support for the plan to offer soldiers monetary compensation, with some 49 percent in favor and some 41 percent against.
This is not the first time the plan had come under fire.
The system was launched in 1966 to help those discharged from the military to adapt to civilian life. It was abolished in 1999 after the Constitutional Court ruled that it infringed on the rights of women and disabled people.
The original law granted soldiers between 3 to 5 percent extra points depending on the length of service, and there was no limit on the proportion of people admitted thanks to the system.
Looking to resolve the unconstitutionality, the ministry made adjustments to the bill.
Under the current bill, ex-soldiers would receive extra points not exceeding 2 percent of their scores in written tests mainly at government organizations and public agencies. The proportion of those admitted must not exceed 20 percent of the total recruitment.
However the bill also lacks support from the recipients themselves.
The ministry also conducted a survey of 1,113 active soldiers from the three military branches, which showed that more than 58 percent were in favor of some form of monetary compensation. Those included lump sum allowances, scholarships, and tax benefits.
Soldiers in favor of the employment plan came in at 37 percent.
Currently, all able Korean men must serve either about 21 months in the Army, 23 months in the Navy, or 24 months in the Air Force to maintain the 650,000-strong military that serves mainly as a deterrent against North Korea.
By Robert Lee (email@example.com