The Korea Herald


Court jails man for draft-dodging 'because he played Battlegrounds'

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 4, 2024 - 17:42

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An in-game screenshot from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Krafton) An in-game screenshot from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Krafton)

The Supreme Court recently confirmed a sentence of one year and six months in prison for a South Korean man who refused his mandatory military service, after the court dismissed his claims of "being against all war and violence," partly based on his avid playing of the battle royale game "PUBG: Battlegrounds."

The defendant was indicted in November of 2018 on a charge of violating the Military Service Act, which stipulates that all able-bodied South Korean men are mandated to serve in the military for at least 18 months. He claimed conscientious objection, saying that he refused to enlist based on his personal beliefs against violence and war.

"The defendant has not put any effort into spreading or realizing what he says is his ideological belief, such as working at an NGO related to anti-violence, anti-war, or peace," the court said in its verdict, stressing that there is no evidence to indicate that he has ever expressed such tendency prior to his refusal to fulfill military service.

"The defendant admitted that he frequently enjoyed playing the game 'Battlegrounds,' which is about killing characters with guns in a virtual reality," the court added. "The video game is different from reality. But the fact that the defendant -- who says he is rejecting military service based on his beliefs to oppose violence and war -- enjoys such game makes the court question whether his conscientious objection is authentic."

He told investigators that he refuses to enlist in the military which "is subject to rampant unfair orders," and that the military law disregards human rights.

The court, however, said that human rights violations and unfair orders were not fundamentally linked to military training, and that the actual situation varied depending on what unit or period one has to serve his duties.