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Military recruitment agency offers counseling for overseas Koreans

The state military recruitment agency is offering counseling on conscription procedures for overseas Korean men during the annual World Korean Business Convention in Busan this week, officials said Wednesday.

The Military Manpower Administration is running a booth in BEXCO in the southeastern port city until Friday to introduce a system under which those with foreign permanent residency can apply to join the armed services here.

Presently around 110,000 overseas Korean men qualify for military service. Under the current law, they can postpone their service until they become 37 years old. When they turn 38, they are exempted from their duty.

When those under age 38 stay in Korea for more than six months, they are to be notified to serve in the military. Thus, many of them who want to work here may have to think of fulfilling the military duty.

The number of overseas Koreans who have applied to complete the military duty has steadily increased in recent years. The figure increased from 150 in 2008 to 160 in 2009 to 191 last year. As of the end of September, 205 have applied to join the army.

“Since 2004, we have offered counseling to those who attended the convention. Each year, some 200 people visited our booth to get counseling,” a MMA official said, declining to be named.

Currently, any able-bodied Korean man must serve in the Army for about 21 months, in the Navy for 23 months or in the Air Force for 24 months. Korea maintains a 650,000-strong military that serves mainly as deterrent against North Korea.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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