An appellate court in Gyeongju City, North Gyeongsang Province, has ruled in favor of a young man who refused to fulfill his mandatory military service on religious grounds.
The court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal submitted by prosecutors for the young man, upholding a previous ruling that found him not guilty. It marked the first time an appeals court sided with a conscientious objector.
It also acquitted two other conscientious objectors who had been sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison.
The court said the men appear to be refusing mandatory military service in line with their religious beliefs and conscience considering the way they were brought up. It said religion and conscience are rights guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be subject to criminal punishment.
The court cited that the trend of recognizing conscientious objectors is growing internationally and that a consensus is being formed in the nation on the need for an alternative form of military services for such cases.
The court also said the argument that excluding conscientious objectors from active service will lead to a surge of service evaders lacks persuasiveness.
The court estimated that the number of men who refuse mandatory military service on religious grounds in the nation stands at roughly 600.