Mandatory Military Service in South Korea

Archana Goswami, New Delhi

South Korea has a policy of compulsory Military service, officially known as conscription. Conscription has existed since 1957 in South Korea. While it gives a hard time to some fans as they have to wait for nearly two years for their bias, it is considered a glorious moment to serve the nation for South Korean people. Military enlistment is an integral part of the lives of citizens of South Korea. So let’s get into the details of mandatory military service or conscription.

Picture Credits: Wikipedia

What is the purpose of Military service?

Conscription serves a long term purpose by training the citizens for war-like situations. It prepares the country with trained manpower and to meet the demands of the workforce if such a situation arise as well as in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian, and disaster-relief efforts.

Picture Credits: Wikipedia

Who all are eligible?

According to the Military Service Act of South Korea, all the able-bodied male citizens of the country between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to undergo compulsory military service for nearly two years. Generally, Korean men start their enlistment immediately after graduating from high school and complete their service in the early 20s. However, it is possible to delay their military enlistment until the age of 28 years, and in some special cases until the age of 30 years. The ages are considered according to the Korean age system. Military service is not compulsory for women in South Korea but they may enrol if they wish to.

Picture Credits: Soompi

What are the two types of services and their length?

Men joining the defence forces are allowed either to serve in active duty or non-active duty. Usually, all the able-bodied men, who don’t have any health or physical conditions serve in active duty. Men serving in non-active duty may work for the public service or other government services. The period of service for the non-active duty is 24-36 months depending upon the field of work. The active-duty refers to serving in either of the three branches of the Republic of Korean Armed Forces, namely The Army, The Navy, and The Air Force.

The period of service is different for different forces. It’s 18 months in The Army and the Marine Corps, 20 months in the Navy, and 22 months in the Air Force.

Who all are exempted from the mandatory military service?

It is expected that all male citizens of the country should serve in the military and any objection to this could lead to jail time. However, certain exemptions are made for those individuals who are dealing with some debilitating disease or have won awards on an international level for the country. The latter include athletes who have won medals in the Olympics or Gold medal in the Asian Games. It also includes exceptionally skilled classical music and dance artists who have won international competitions.

Individuals with health conditions are also exempted from military service, but the artists and athletes are just exempted from active duty. They are still required to complete their basic 4 weeks of military training. After this, they can continue with their careers, as they were active for at least 42 weeks but the annual military training remains compulsory for them as well.

How South Koreans view serving in the military?

The ones who complete their term of service are looked upon as respectable citizens of the country and it also sets the hierarchy among their generation. In a group of friends or at other informal gatherings. Those who complete their military duty early are considered of a higher hierarchy despite being of the same age.

Picture Credits: The Jakarta Post

Serving the nation instils a sense of pride among the citizens. So the next time you hear about the enlistment of your favorite male artist, don’t be disheartened, rather feel proud to be a fan!

66 Comments Add yours

  1. It makes me sad when kpop idols leave for military but makes me proud when they are back✨ well written 👏

    1. Thank you for reading!😊 Yes it’s a sad moment but such a glorious achievement ❤️

  2. Well written 💜

    1. Thank you!🤗

      1. Tejaswini says:

        Quite Informative 👏👏and to the point ❤️

  3. shrishti3599 says:

    I loved the ending❤

    1. Thank you so much for reading 🤗💕

  4. anandgoku says:

    This is such an informative article!👏 Thanks for sharing with us such details

    1. Thank you so much for reading 💗

  5. anshikaxox says:

    We’ve always been so lost about the military services when idols enlist. This article is actually so helpful! Great work!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad it was helpful🤗

  6. AkkyGob says:

    Wow! Loved the article! People are not much informed about military service and thus don’t understand its importance

    1. Thank you so much!😊 Yes I agree with that!

  7. atul067 says:

    The article is vey well written

    1. Thank you!

  8. This article clears all my confusion regarding military service rule

    1. I’m glad it was helpful!🤗

  9. A huge respect to them!!❤

    1. Yes absolutely!💖

  10. When our favorite male artists enlists in the military, firstly we get sad coz they’ll be staying away from the entertainment for 2 years but at the same time, It’s a matter of pride for us as our favorites are serving for their country! Thankyou for this informative article!

    1. Yes and that wait is a beautiful experience in itself ♥️ Thank you for reading 🤗

  11. mehaksharma2803 says:

    Serving for country is an honour.
    Article is written so well 🥰

    1. Yes and the pride is just incomparable ♥️ Thank you for reading 🤗

  12. maple0808 says:

    Very informative and very well written….

    1. Thank you!🤗💖

  13. Sanchita says:

    Very informative and well written📝

    1. Thank you! ♥️

  14. Kashish Singh says:

    This is articulated well! 💕✨

    1. Thank you so much!😍😚💖

  15. rupalikujur says:

    This culture of Korea has always attracted me the most! I believe it is really a proud phase of life to go under military training for such a long period of time for one’s nation. Huge respect to them.👏🏼

    1. Yes absolutely true! That’s why our respect for them increases even more♥️ Thank you for reading 🤗

  16. This is such an important topic. Thank you for covering it!

    1. Thank you!

  17. ankitaetae says:

    Very informative article! I just had a brief idea about the enlistment. Now I actually understand it and realise how important and pride worthy it is.

    1. I’m glad it was helpful 🤗

  18. minakshishah says:

    Military enlistment is always such a sensitive topic but if we look at it this way then it’s actually such an honorable thing. The artists are going to serve their country. Not everyone gets that opportunity!

    1. I absolutely agree with you! It isn’t something so sad as the fans portray it.

  19. jaee548 says:

    This is such an informative article and written in such detail. This topic was much needed to make the fans aware about what enlistment actually is.

    1. Thank you! That was my motive in writing this article 😊

  20. yushirush says:

    Wow this sounds so cool! No wonder the military returned men in kdramas always held such pride about their training. They deserve that!

    1. Yes totally! K-dramas also help us understand enlistment from the koreans’ pov

  21. shwets007 says:

    What a well written article! We as fans might get sad because our favs are going away from limelight for 2 years but we are also very proud of them for living a glorious part of their lives.

    1. Thank you! Yes absolutely!❤️

  22. smitiyer says:

    Well written article👍

    1. Thank you!💕

  23. anishanath says:

    I knew about this but this article had provided a lot of information which I didn’t know. I think in our country also everybody should get a chance to serve the country atleast once. Nice article.

    1. Yes I agree with that! It will help instill a sense of patriotism in the citizens even more

  24. kylemyoxin78 says:

    Nothing can be as glorious as serving your nation when in need. I think this policy should be implemented in every nation because it also instills some values and morels of responsibility, respect, and compassion in an individual that stays lifelong. Thank you so much for this insightful article.

    1. Yes absolutely! Thank you for reading the article😊💕

  25. Anushka Gupta says:

    Amazed to see this article beautifully written ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thank you so much ❤️

  26. sowozoo says:

    This mandatory military service is actually so efficient in building individuals ready to face wars. No matter their profession, everybody has this strong personality that comes from the training.

    1. Yes the environment it provides surely enhances the personality of the individuals!🙌

  27. Smriti. L says:

    Wow! The article explains the South Korea’s mandatory military services very well👏

    1. Thank you so much💜

  28. amilakaur says:

    Fruitful Information…Military Service is very honorable service..

    1. Yes truely!🙌💜

  29. armywithluvv says:

    Loved that it’s explained in such detailed manner. Mostly people have just a little knowledge about the enlistment so this was quite helpful 👏👍

    1. Thank you😊 I’m glad it’s helpful ♥️

  30. aneeshakpu says:

    This is such a well researched article 😍! Great work!👏

    1. Thank you so much for reading 🤗💖

  31. khiroda06 says:

    When I was just a newbie in K-World, I felt sad when I saw my bias getting Enlisted but this article answered all the questions we common international fans have about enlistment so well that now onwards when my fav actor or bias will enlist, like you said, I would should be Proud to be their fan rather than getting sad 💙

    1. Yess that’s the spirit!👏♥️

  32. suhasini17 says:

    we all feet sad when we see our idols being enlisted but this is a great way to serve their country. thank you for such an informative article

  33. Preeti says:

    idols leaving for the military service is really very sad like why do they have to enlist and such were my thoughts previously…..but the article is very well written loved reading it.

  34. Orion Gold says:

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