Ex-soldier bonus-point plan being resuscitated

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Ex-soldier bonus-point plan being resuscitated

In the wake of the recent attack on Yeonpyeong Island, the ruling Grand National Party wants to push forward a plan that would give more credit to South Korean soldiers serving in the military by giving them special points to be used when applying for jobs upon returning to civilian life.

“We have had the opportunity to think again about all that soldiers do,” said GNP floor leader Kim Moo-sung at a meeting yesterday for high-ranking party members. “When peace lasts over a certain period of time, society forgets about the soldiers that are keeping the peace. Compensation for these men in society has all but disappeared because sex equality has become an automatic [priority].”

The GNP’s plan involves reinstating a policy that would give South Korean men who have completed their military service special points when applying for jobs. Such a system existed prior to 1999 when the Supreme Court, in December of that year, deemed it unconstitutional for promoting inequality. The court also said that military service could not be seen as “special sacrifice” because it is compulsory.

The presidential committee on defense advancement in South Korea had suggested the policy be revived in a report earlier this month, which included scrapping a plan to shorten compulsory military service. The new policy takes into account the reasons why old policy was deemed unconstitutional 11 years ago.

If the changes are implemented, men who have finished military service can get a bonus on hiring assessments of up to 2.5 percent, down from 3 to 5 percent in the earlier scheme. Men with extra points would only be able to account for 20 percent of the yearly hires of any particular company.

Women’s rights groups, activists for the disabled and those who legally cannot serve in the military are against the plan, which they say is unfair.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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