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New party woos soldiers with longer vacation pledge

The main opposition United Future Party announces its election pledge at the National Assembly. (Yonhap)
The main opposition United Future Party announces its election pledge at the National Assembly. (Yonhap)
The newly formed main opposition United Future Party on Tuesday unveiled an election pledge to offer soldiers longer vacations, extended tenures and higher pay.

It was the fledging party’s first campaign promise for the April general elections. The conservative group was launched the day before following the merger of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and two minor parties.

On average, conscripted soldiers take vacation every 1 1/2 months and can spend only one night out before reporting back to their unit. That could be changed to two nights out on a monthly basis, the party said.

Officers deserve a longer tenure to serve, the party added, noting Korean officers are forced to retire much earlier than their peers in developed countries, so adjustment is needed to secure competitive candidates for the armed forces.

The current retirement age is 56 for commissioned officers and 55 for noncommissioned. The party proposed raising both to 60.

The party addressed the country’s reserve forces as well, promising them better compensation for taking part in mandatory annual training for eight years after they are discharged from their military service. All able-bodied men in Korea are required to serve in the military for about two years.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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