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2006/12/28

[轉載] Presidential Hopefuls Differ Over Shorter Military Serv

 

[韓國時報] By Kim Sue-young Staff Reporter http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200612/k

t2006122717585410510.htm Presidential hopefuls from the governing and opposition parties differed over President Roh Moo-hyun's proposal to shorten the period of compulsory military service required for South Korean men. Last Thursday, Roh raised the issue, saying, ``Young men should not rot away, spending years in barracks.'' Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), said there is no need to shorten the service period because Roh had worsened the state of national security. ``Roh pledged to shorten the service period by four months during the last presidential campaign,'' Park told reporters. ``But he didn't keep that promise. That means the current security situation is not stable enough.'' She claimed that Roh's remarks insult the military and will trigger a division within society. Park, the daughter of the late President Park Chung-hee, also said she is worried that Roh intrudes into politics instead of dealing with pending issues. Former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak advocated shortening the service period. ``I think it is good to shorten the period, and the government should check possible ways to do this,'' said Lee, who is vying with Park to win the party's ticket for next year's presidential election. ``But it should not weaken national defense or security, and the government should consider the costs too as it modernizes the military,'' Lee said in a radio program. Chung Dong-young, former chairman of the governing Uri Party, also supported Roh's proposal, saying that it was necessary. But Kim Geun-tae, the Uri Party's incumbent chairman, was more cautious. ``We should discuss the matter with other Uri lawmakers because we have not talked about it before.'' Former Prime Minister Goh Kun, who is not affiliated with any political party yet, has not clarified his position. But he said the government should consider possible problems, including how to maintain combat capability. Last Friday, Chong Wa Dae officials said the government plans to come up with a policy to shorten the mandatory military service early next year as part of efforts to enhance the country's productivity. A day earlier, Roh said that his government is working to develop policies to encourage young men to marry and have babies earlier instead of ``gathering dust'' in the military. ksy@koreatimes.co.kr 12-27-2006



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