September 19, 2007

South Korea military reform

South Korea would seek to allow conscientious objectors to engage in social service instead of mandatory military terms. Conservatives reacted with concern, arguing the moves would undermine the country's conscription system, which is aimed at deterring aggression from communist North Korea. Under the current law, all physically fit South Korean men aged 18 to 30 must serve at least two years in the military.

More than 3,760 men, mostly Jehovah's Witnesses, have refused to perform military service in the past five years. Nearly 95 percent spent more than 17 months in prison. The Korea Veterans Association said the plan would lower the morale of ordinary conscripts, thus posing a threat to the national security.

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