[EDITORIALS]Bias will not bring fairnessThe Ministry of National Defense is pursuing the enactment of a law that covers the conscription of the sons of the privileged members of society. The effort may win approval from the general public, considering that the wealthy and well-connected are known to avoid the 26-month mandatory military service. But the matter should be dealt with cautiously, because a separate law could infringe on human rights.
As we can see from the profiles of the new government leaders, a considerable portion of the privileged and their sons were able to skip military service through legal methods, like maintaining dual citizenship. Sports stars and celebrities often bribe medical officers to evade conscription. The notion is widely held in Korea that only those who cannot pull strings serve in the military.
We understand the Defense Ministry’s move to apply stricter rules separately on the privileged to build trust in the military enlistment system. But giving special treatment -- whether good or bad -- to certain segment of society risks reverse discrimination that breaches the principle of equality before the law and could violate human rights. Nobody must be favored legally, but on the other hand, nobody must be subjected to separate laws.
The Military Manpower Administration attempted twice before to implement similar efforts by setting up by-laws, but they were scrapped. At that time the rate of conscription for those under special management was far lower than that for those who were not.
Regardless of the fact that special management of the privileged was President Roh Moo-hyun’s election campaign pledge, the the boundary of the law must be respected.
The government should not push such laws; it should make sure it is not charged with collusions on this issue.
If the military administration is clean, attempts to evade service will fail. And the privileged must ponder why they and their sons are an issue when it comes to military service.