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Convicted draft dodgers to be forced to join military

Those who have served jail time for using deception to avoid military service will still have to join the armed services under a tougher conscription rule to take effect next year, the military recruitment agency said Friday.

Also starting from next year, the military will no longer randomly select recruits from boot camps to serve as combat police.

The Military Manpower Administration on Friday put on public notice a set of revision bills on these and other issues. The revision is aimed at enhancing the military recruitment system and toughening conscription rules, officials said.

Under the current law, those who have served a jail term of 18 months or more for any criminal conviction cannot join the military. But the revision stipulates that draft dodgers will have to fufil their military duties after finishing their term in prison.

To address complaints from those who joined the combat police irrespective of their wishes to work as active-duty military personnel, the MMA will scrap the system of randomly choosing police staff from among military recruits, officials said.

Each year, some 3,700 recruits at military boot camps are picked to join the combat police. Some 270,000 soldiers are conscripted each year to maintain the 650,000-strong military, mainly serving as a deterrent to North Korea.

The MMA will also allow those with only an elementary school education to serve in the military.

To protect the “socially vulnerable,” the government has exempted them from military service. But critics have said that this measure is discriminatory as there are many who are fully capable of serving in the military.

A revision bill also seeks to give the MMA the right to investigate public doctors who are serving in designated towns instead of joining the armed forces. The Health Ministry has so far taken charge of them.

There have been allegations that some public doctors were negligent of their medical duties and, in some cases, used their expertise to earn money at private hospitals. But there were no legal grounds for the MMA to intervene in those cases.

Currently, any physically able Korean man must serve either about 21 months in the Army, 23 months in the Navy, or 24 months in the Air Force.

By Song Sang-ho (
Korea Herald Youtube