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47 members of new parliament won exemption from military service

Forty-seven members of the new National Assembly were exempted from mandatory military service for various reasons, including imprisonment and illness, data showed Friday.

According to the Military Manpower Administration (MMA), 47 of the 253 newly elected male lawmakers, or 18.6 percent, gained exemption due to imprisonment, illness, old age and lack of education. One lawmaker was excluded because he defected from North Korea.

All healthy young South Korean men are required by law to serve some two years in the military to defend the country against North Korea. Draft dodging is a sensitive issue in the South and can affect the fate of government officials, celebrities and other public figures.

The new National Assembly, which started its four-year term last week, also has 47 women lawmakers, all of whom were exempted from conscription as the law does not apply to women.

The main opposition Democratic United Party had the largest number of lawmakers exempted from conscription at 26 people, followed by the ruling Saenuri Party at 18, the minor conservative Forward Unification Party at two, and the left-wing minor opposition Unified Progressive Party at one, the data showed.

"The exemption rate is 0.4 percentage points higher than the 18.2 percent recorded for the previous National Assembly, and 10.7 percentage points lower than the 29.3 percent recorded for ordinary citizens of the same age range (born in the 1940s-1970s)," the MMA said. (Yonhap News)