[EDITORIALS]Baseball’s other draftThe administration and the Uri Party yesterday decided to exempt baseball players of the national team, which advanced to the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic, from military duty. Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and Uri’s floor leader, Kim Han-gill agreed to the principle at a meeting at the National Assembly.
They said the decision was to provide a privilege to the baseball players matching what has been given to athletes when they win a medal in the Olympics or a gold medal in the Asian Games, and to the national soccer team when it advanced to the round of 16 at the World Cup.
Korean players beat Japan twice and won a crushing victory against the United States, and that is the most triumphant event in the 101 years of Korean baseball history. Korean players won against excellent teams with their spirit. Coach Kim In-sik’s leadership is respected equally with that of Guus Hiddink, a national hero who led Korea’s soccer team during the last World Cup.
Once again, Koreans are impressed by the baseball epic, following the inspiration of the soccer epic of four years ago. Not only the United States and Japan, but also the entire world is watching Korea’s baseball and Koreans with new views. As Kim Han-gill said, it was a heroic venture that reminded the world of Korea’s pride.
We believe the possibility of draft exemptions can be discussed for athletes who promoted Korea’s dignity and provided hope and confidence to Koreans. Beating Japan and the United States and advancing to the semifinals are no less impressive than winning a medal at the Olympics, winning a gold medal at the Asian Games or advancing to the round of 16 in the World Cup.
But it was inappropriate that the decision on a draft exemption was made off the cuff, without any standards or principles. Some lawmakers reportedly argued that the exemption should not be given without firm grounds. Serving in the military is a sacred duty for a Korean man, and the administration and the Uri Party must not patronize it.
The administration and the Uri Party are merely trying to take advantage of the festive mood by providing the draft exemptions. That is a shallow-minded strategy of populism. It would not be too late to decide on a policy after listening to public opinion and holding serious discussions with experts to review firm standard on such matters.
The government must know that respecting principle and procedure is an important virtue.