▶ A woman gives encouragement to her grandson, a new conscript at boot camp in Nonsan, South Chungcheong province. [YONHAP]
[轉載] 18-Month Military Service Planned
18-Month Military Service Planned
By Jung Sung-ki
The mandatory military service period will be shortened to 18 months on a gradual basis from next year, a government source said Monday.
The plan is part of measures to overhaul the system that requires service from all able-bodied men over 19. An ad hoc military panel reported the plan to President Roh Moo-hyun last Friday, the source said, asking not to be named.
A final roadmap will be made public as early as next week, he said.
The proposed plan aims to reduce the service period by six months in stages from 2008 to 2015. Currently, service periods are 24 months for the Army and Marines, 26 months for the Navy and 27 months for the Air Force. The nation maintains an armed force of about 680,000 compared to the North's 1.1-million-strong military.
Another measure is to abolish all other forms of substitute service, such as service in the police, state-run companies and prisons, within five years to fill the possible manpower gap in the military from the reduction in service period.
About 70,000 men are serving in police stations across the country, 2,000 in fire stations and 4,000 in prisons under the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs. About 11,000 young men are working with state-run firms as an alternative form of service to the military.
The government also plans to adopt a ``salaried volunteer'' system beginning in 2011. Under the scheme, those who want to remain in the military for an additional year after their mandatory period are allowed to serve in the military with an annual salary of about 15 million won.
The Defense Ministry plans to maintain about 20,000 salaried volunteers between 2011 and 2020, officials said.
Critics are worried that the reduction in service period and the introduction of salaried volunteer soldiers would require an additional budget estimated at about 1 trillion won only for soldiers' payment and may cause a decline in military readiness as well.
A manpower shortage of about 50,000 is anticipated from 2007 to 2009, according to the Ministry of Manpower Administration (MMA). The military aims to cut its number of troops to 500,000 by 2020 under the Defense Reform 2020 plan.
The main opposition Grand National Party denounced the government plan as a politically charged move to solicit support from young people ahead of the Dec. 19 presidential election.
In addition, the ministry is considering implementing a German-style civil service system after doing away with draft exemption in a bid to ensure fairness in the mandatory service.
Except for those having serious illness, all young men must serve in the military or welfare facilities and other institutions under the civil service system.
The MMA currently maintains a seven-grade physical checkup system. Those graded as five and six are exempt from military service. Grade seven requires re-examination.
[韓國中央日報] Shorter service eyed for conscripts
January 09, 2007 ㅡ The South Korean government is contemplating cutting the two-year mandatory military service by one quarter, government sources said yesterday. "The government is considering ways to cut the period to 18 months based on research results by a government task force on reforming the conscription system," a source said, requesting anonymity.