Anchor: The government has, for the first time, allowed a man to serve alternative military duty rather than conventional service due to personal beliefs.
Our Bae Joo-yon has more.
Report: The Military Manpower Administration’s alternative duty deliberation committee said Wednesday that it decided last month to accept a request by 30-year-old Oh Soon-hwan to serve alternative military duty based on his conviction for nonviolence.
All able-bodied men in South Korea are required to serve about two years in the military. However, the government had previously allowed men to serve alternative duty due to religious beliefs, though this is the first case of granting it for personal beliefs.
Oh refused to serve his mandatory military service in April 2018 due to his belief in nonviolence and pacifism and requested that the government allow him to serve alternative duty last year.
In reaching its latest decision, the manpower agency’s committee is said to have taken into account the fact that Oh was active in an anti-war organization and had continuously participated in events involving conscientious objectors. Testimonies by people close to Oh also were reportedly reflected in the decision.
Oh assessed that the latest move indicates that the government has recognized nonviolence and pacifism as forms of conscience.
Separately, the committee also decided to accept a request by a man who completed his military service as a technical research personnel to be allowed to serve alternative duty instead of taking part in reserve forces’ training.
The man made the request citing his belief against holding guns which is necessary in such training. This also marks the first time the government allowed alternative duty for a man who refused to participate in reserve forces’ training.
Since a law allowing other forms of military service went into effect last year, a total of two-thousand-52 men have requested to serve their mandatory military service through alternative duty. The government has accepted the requests by 944 of those men.
Other than Oh and the man who refused to serve reserve forces’ training, the remaining 942 were permitted alternative duty due to religious reasons.
Bae Joo-yon, KBS World Radio News.