Sim Sang-jeung, the presidential candidate of the minor progressive Justice Party, speaks at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday, to introduce her plans for the country's military draft system. (Yonhap)
Sim Sang-jeung, the presidential candidate of the minor progressive Justice Party, said Monday she will make the military switch to a full volunteer system from 2030 and reduce the number of standing troops if elected president.
Currently, all able-bodied South Korean men are mandated to serve about two years in the military. Sim vowed to change the country's compulsory military draft system if she wins the presidential election in March next year.
"Under the current compulsory system, the country will see lack of armed forces after 2030," Sim said.
The lawmaker first proposed the country run a mixed system of conscripted soldiers with 12-month mandatory service and volunteer troops with four-year duty until 2029 before making a transition to the complete volunteer military system.
Sim also pledged to reduce the number of standing troops to 300,000 through modernization and scientific improvement of the military. As of last year, the country had a standing army of 550,000 people.
"I will cut the number of Army troops to half to 150,000, and maintain current level of forces at the Navy and the Air Force to seek balanced growth of the military," she said.
Sim promised that she will guarantee a monthly pay of 3 million won ($2,540) to volunteer soldiers and support college or graduate school tuition when they become non-commissioned officers.
She also vowed to change the current mandatory reserve force system to occupational reserve force of 500,000 troops.
South Korea and North Korea technically remain at war as the 1950-53 war ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)