The Korea Herald


Poll suggests alternative military service 1.5 to 2 times longer than regular one

By Yonhap

Published : July 2, 2018 - 16:55

    • Link copied

Two in three Koreans think alternative military service, if introduced for conscientious objectors following a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court, should be 1.5 to 2 times longer than regular military service, a poll showed Monday.

According to the survey of 500 adults nationwide by pollster Realmeter, 34 percent said conscientious objectors should spend 1.5 times longer in alternative military service, while 30.8 percent suggested the length should be two times longer.

The poll, which was carried out on June 29 after the Constitutional Court ordered the revision of the conscription law to allow for alternative service for conscientious objectors by the end of next year, has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Under the current law, all able-bodied Korean men are required to serve for around two years in the military.

Altogether, 64.8 percent of the respondents want conscientious objectors to serve in alternative military service for around three to four years, the poll said.

Among the minority opinions, 17.6 percent called for no difference in length between regular and alternative services, with

14.4 percent asking for more than six years for those choosing alternative services.

By sex, 35 percent of women proposed 1.5 times longer alternative service, while 37.3 percent of men called for two times, the poll found. By ideology, 37.4 percent of liberal respondents preferred 1.5 times, whereas 37.7 percent of conservatives suggested two times longer alternative service, it noted.

Between 2013 and May this year, a total of 2,756 people have refused to serve in the military, mostly for religious reasons.

Almost all of the violators served jail terms or are still on trial.

According to government data, 99.4 percent, or 2,739, of the violators were Jehovah's Witnesses, members of a sect of Christianity.

In this regard, a spokesperson for Jehovah's Witnesses told Yonhap News Agency that the group has no official position on the issue of conscientious objectors, but stressed that alternative forms of service should be unrelated to the military.

"The most important thing in international human rights principles on alternative forms of service is that they should be supervised by government ministries or institutions with no relation to the military. We believe most conscientious objectors will likely accept alternative forms of service, if they are not related to the military," said the spokesperson.

Lawyers for conscientious objectors on trial issued a statement earlier in the day, saying that many countries worldwide, including Germany and Taiwan, have successfully introduced alternative forms of service in the fields of disaster relief, firefighting, prevention of epidemics, environment and welfare services. (Yonhap)