Conscription in South Korea

The Republic of Korea main­tains a strict conscription regi­me. Registration for conscrip­tion is automatic for men in the year they turn 18, followed by medical examination when they are 19. The duty to enlist in the Armed Forces lasts until the age of 31, but in case of draft evaders until 36.

Military service lasts two years. How­ever, large parts of conscripts (almost 200_000 out of 300000-350000 conscripts annually) per­form most of their service in public administra­tions or else­where, and only per­form four weeks of basic mi­li­­tary training. For those, milit­ary service lasts 26 months. Which kind of service has to be performed depends on the me­di­cal examination, and the needs of the military.

After discharge from servi­ce, con­scripts are obliged to serve appro­xi­mately 160 hours of military training over a period of eight years.

Of a total of 680000 sol­diers in the Korean military, about 75% are con­scripts. Com­missioned and non-commis­sioned officers are pro­fessional soldiers and account for the re­maining 25%. Accor­ding to the "Defence Re­form Plan 2020", South Korea aims to increase the number of pro­fessional soldiers to 40% by 2020.

Conscientious objection is not recognised, and annually about 600 conscientious objec­tors receive prison sentences of 18 months. The great majo­rity of conscientious objectors are Jehovah's Witnesses, but since 2001 the number of non-religios conscientious objectors has increased. 
Since 1939, more than 15000 conscientious objectors served prison sentences for their refusal to perform military service.


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