The Korea Herald


Pro-gamer tries to dodge draft by faking IQ of 53

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Jan. 29, 2024 - 17:56

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Won Chang-yeon (Won Chang-yeon's YouTube channel) Won Chang-yeon (Won Chang-yeon's YouTube channel)

A former South Korean professional gamer has been sentenced to a prison term of one year, suspended for two years, for trying to dodge mandatary military service by pretending to have an IQ of 53, an Incheon court said Monday.

Incheon District Court found 32-year-old Won Chang-yeon guilty of violating the Military Service Act, which mandates all able-bodied South Korean men serve in the military for at least 18 months. Won was also ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

Police investigation found that Won, who specialized in soccer video games, had attempted to dodge active duty service through various methods after receiving a grade 2 in the state physical examination in 2011 and being cleared for active duties. After a re-test in 2015 earned him a grade 3, he got a grade 4 for being overweight in the 2018 test that qualified him for serving active duty.

But Won faked answers on a psychological test at a local hospital to be diagnosed with mental disorders and an IQ of 53. He also falsely claimed that he was incapable of being in crowded spaces. While he would still be have been mandated to fulfill his duties as social service personnel, a low IQ would have exempted him from basic military training and from being part of the reserve forces.

Won also changed his address from Incheon to Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province in an attempt to be transferred to wartime labor service -- where duty is mandated only during wartime.

The law states that social service personnel who have not been dispatched will be reassigned to wartime labor service. The pileup problem of non-active personnel was more severe in Bucheon than in Incheon, meaning those in the Bucheon area were more likely to become part of the wartime labor force.

Won, who retired as a pro-gamer in August after being indicted for draft dodging, was formerly a member of the junior national soccer team.