Crazy B-boys feigned insanity to dodge draft

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Crazy B-boys feigned insanity to dodge draft

Korea’s first B-boy group, T.I.P. (Teamwork Is Perfect), was known for scrupulous coordination in their break-dance routines. Less successful was their group effort to avoid mandatory military service.

Nine Korean B-boys, or break-dancers, are under investigation on charges of dodging the draft by claiming they suffered from various mental disorders such as hallucinations, schizophrenia and depression, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday.

According to police, the dancers, including a man surnamed Lee, 25, studied symptoms of mental disorders from the Web and medical books. They then stopped eating, didn’t take showers and spoke random words to fool family members.

Police said the dancers didn’t have to bribe psychiatrists for fake diagnoses because their alarmed parents brought them to see doctors.

According to the police, Lee received his draft letter in early 2009, just months before two B-boy championships, one local and one international. Police said Lee felt his professional efforts would come to nothing if he went into the military and he sought advice from his teammates.

To his surprise, some of his older teammates, including a man surnamed Hwang, 30, said they dodged the draft by simply acting insane. On their advice, Lee locked himself in his bedroom and told his parents he was seeing a young woman in his room.

Lee’s mother took him to a psychiatrist a few months before his military physical examination and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized for one month. Two months later, he was exempted from his military duty.

Lee won at both of the championship competitions.

Under the law, a person hospitalized over one month for a mental disorder or who received treatment for mental illness for more than six months is exempted from military service.

“I put the Korean flag around my shoulders when I competed, and now I’m ashamed,” Lee told reporters.

“Measures to check whether a person gets psychiatric treatment after they are exempted from military service are needed,” a police official said.

Three of the suspects for whom the statute of limitations has not expired will be charged criminally and the others will serve their military duty, police said.

TIP was started in 1996 and it won the 2008 Dance Dynamite World Grand Prix Japan and Cyon Bboy Championship in 2009.


By Kim Mi-ju, Jeong Seon-eon [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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[사건 추적] 세계적 비보이그룹 T.I.P 병역 비리




지난해 초 국내 최초의 비보이그룹 T.I.P 멤버였던 이모(25)씨는 징집영장을 받았다. 국내 최대 규모의 비보이 경연대회를 3개월여 앞둔 시점이었다. 그해 9월엔 일본에서 열리는 세계대회에도 참가할 예정이었다. 입대하면 수년간의 연습은 물거품이 된다. 고민하던 이씨는 술자리에서 팀 선배들에게 속내를 털어놨다. 이 자리에서 한 선배가 솔깃한 이야기를 했다. 정신분열증 환자 행세를 하면 군 면제를 받을 수 있다는 것이었다. 그 선배는 “나도 그렇게 해서 군대에 안 갔다”며 “팀 안에 그런 사람이 여러 명”이라고 했다.

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