International Conscientious Objection Day

Every year, 15th May marks International Conscientious Objection Day (CO day) - a day to celebrate those who have, and those who continue, to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

If you would like to take part in CO day, contact us.

by Dongjoo Ko

On 11 October 2005, I called the Military Manpower Administration and told them that I would not be enlisting. Instead a few days later, on 19 October, I announced my conscientious objection to the military through a press conference . My grounds for refusing the military were based on my conscience, Catholic faith and a firm belief that the military do not bring peace.

Yongsuk Lee

It is only recently that the term "nonviolent direct action" appeared in Korean society. Still, there are many misunderstandings about nonviolence and many people find direct action as a way of protest bizarre. Conservative media suggest that while nonviolent direct action had its place during the dictatorship, it is not legitimate in a democracy. However, after last year's candlelight rallies against the government decision to import US beef, the call for nonviolence is now better known in Korean society.


Andreas Speck

The extremely difficult situation of conscientious objectors in South Korea has so far not been known to a broader public. Until only a few years ago, it has not even been known to those working on conscientious objection internationally, including War Resisters' International.

by Hyunji Oh
Conscientious objection in South Korea has a long history. The total amount of time during which Korean COs, mostly Jehovah's witnesses, have spent in prison for the past 50 years far exceeds ten thousand hours. Some people died while suffering from violence and torture during the military regime, and some people had to spend more than 7 years in prison. It was, however, only in early 2001 that conscientious objection became known to the Korean public. After that, it caused controversies in Korean society and became a big issue. At first, COs had to counter numerous criticisms and rebukes, feeling even bigger psychological frustrations than before. [1]

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