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Military incentive plan hit over effect on women, disabled

By 윤민식

Published : June 13, 2013 - 15:41

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The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and female lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party on Thursday agreed to block the Defense Ministry’s latest proposal to give extra credits to male job seekers for military service.

“The military duty incentive system was already ruled unconstitutional,” Rep. Kim Hyun-sook said after a government ruling party meeting held at the National Assembly.

“(The Defense Ministry) should be discreet about reviving the system which would spark strong opposition from women and disabled people and cause social conflicts,” she said.

The proposed incentive system is expected to stir an intraparty row as some other conservative Saenuri lawmakers are pushing ahead with the plan.

The Defense Ministry and a group of conservative lawmakers, led by Rep. Han Ki-ho, have been working to get parliamentary approval for reviving the controversial system that offers an advantage to job applicants at government organizations, municipalities, military installation schools and private and public companies.

The bill was proposed to give incentives for reservists who took the mandatory military service in their early 20s by delaying studies or other opportunities, they said. All able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to serve in the military for at least two years.

However, the incentive system was abolished in 1999 after the Constitutional Court ruled that it infringed on the rights of women and disabled people.

Learning from past experience, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it planned to submit an alternative revision.

The alternative plan restricts the total number of beneficiaries from the incentive system to below 10 percent of job openings, saying the proposed quota would not take away from other applicants’ chances.

The bill will be reviewed by the legislative subcommittee and then submitted to the National Assembly’s Defense Committee during this month’s special session, officials at the ministry said.

Rep. Kim, a member of the Gender Equality and Family Committee, said on Thursday that she was also opposed to the alternative plan.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)