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Defectors wish to fulfill military duty: report

A report on South Korean defense policies showed that North Korean defectors wish to serve their military service in the South, which is banned under the military law.

The quarterly report of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a state-funded defense think tank, said that seven out of eight North Koreans who fled the reclusive state between 2003 and 2010 want to enlist in the army.

“I feel left out when thinking that the South Korean government does not trust the defectors although they say on the surface that they try to support us” a North Korean defector, 24, from Pyongyang, was quoted as saying.

While the South Korean Constitution states that all citizens have the duty of national defense under the conditions as prescribed by law, the military service law prohibits people who come from the North from being recruited.

The report also showed that 62 percent among 375 South Korean university students interviewed in 2011 think that North Korean defectors should be exempt from the military duty.

Around 64 percent of the opponents to conscription of defectors cited national security as the reason.

The author of the report, Kang Dong-wan, political science and diplomacy professor at Dong-A University in Busan, suggested introducing alternative military service at public offices or placing the defectors to noncombat units or reserve forces.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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