The South Korean military will stop sending conscription letters to citizens reported missing, said the Military Manpower Administration on Wednesday.
The military vowed to update its conscription legislation by conducting in-depth background research into potential soldiers. The current law allows the government to dispatch the letters to missing people if they hold an officially registered residence on record.
The law had been the subject of controversy for its perceived lack of emotional sentiment and consideration for families of those who’ve gone missing. Relatives and legal guardians had to cancel the missing person’s resident registration number to avoid legal violations, according to media reports.
The previous administration had drawn flak for mailing physical examination notices in 2016 to Sewol ferry victims who had been reported dead or missing.
Police have delivered the national missing persons database of underage men to the MMA and will continue to provide the service.
“We will first request the family of the missing person to notify the government upon the subject reaching draft age,” an MMA official said Wednesday.
“The revision is an effort to adjust the rules more realistically to alleviate grievance of family members and relatives of the missing person.”
According to an MMA official, the revised rule may be applied as early as next month.
In January 2016, military physical examination notices were sent to 92 male students of Danwon High School, who were among 305 dead or missing from the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014.
The MMA apologized “for deeply hurting” the bereaved families, stating it had failed to secure the complete list of the victims in time.
Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in revealed plans earlier this month to reduce conscripted soldiers’ mandatory service period to 18 months from the current 21. The announcement sparked heavy debate as the two Koreas are still technically at war.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org