More Korean overseas volunteer to get exempted from military service
02 April 2008
by Kim Yon-se

Seoul, South Korea: More Korean men in their 20s will likely enjoy exemption from compulsory military service under the government's policy to offer benefits to college students.

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said Wednesday that the government is considering offering a variety of incentives including exemption from military service to those participating in overseas volunteer work.

``The policy is aimed at encouraging more talented students to participate in charitable activities overseas,'' he said during a meeting with the leaders of five major business lobby organizations and representatives from several universities in Seoul.

Han said the move is also linked with state efforts to foster global leaders, adding, ``The government will closely cooperate with conglomerates to push for the policy.''

A spokesman of the Prime Minister's Office said beneficiaries of the program would increase from the current 120 per annum.

He also said other incentives may include decreasing the duration of compulsory military service and giving additional credits when applying for work after graduating from college.

Han said the Prime Minister's Office is discussing the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Defense.

The policy could face a severe backlash from the majority of men in their 20s and their parents.

Most of all, the current screening process to select the 120 people is very rigid and requires a high educational background.

Critics say the policy might be used as a route for exemption from military service for students from high-income households.

Criticizing additional points in the job-seeking process, a law professor said it could invite a series of constitutional petitions.

A bill to enable those who have completed military service to enjoy additional points in civil service tests was recently ruled to be unconstitutional.

© Korea Times

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