Man dodges Army service due to ADHD

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Man dodges Army service due to ADHD

In an unprecedented case, the Seoul Administrative Court yesterday ruled to exempt a man with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from compulsory military service.

The 28-year-old, identified only by his surname Kim, was diagnosed with ADHD and manic depression when he was 20 years old, according to court documents. After spending his formative years in Canada, he reportedly had difficulty adapting to Korean schools and eventually dropped out.

Kim also allegedly suffers from impulsivity and has difficulty forming relationships and adapting to social situations, according to a medical evaluation conducted before the hearing.

“He is mentally unstable and aggressive and is incapable of adapting to ordinary life,” the judges said, basing their verdict on the results of Kim’s psychological evaluation. “It seems unlikely that he could have a normal stint in the military, as he lacks the ability to focus and adapt.”

In June 2012, doctors ruled following a medical checkup that Kim was eligible to join the Army.

Afterward, he appealed to the Military Manpower Administration, the military service authority, to be excused from military service, citing his condition as the primary reason for exemption. However, the administration denied his request and ordered him to report for basic training in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, by December 2012. Kim filed a suit against the decision and officially applied to postpone his duty, arguing that he would be unable to perform his military obligations due to his ADHD.

The Military Manpower Administration insisted that Kim was not currently taking medication to regulate his condition. However, the court said the evidence was “not sufficient enough to prove that his condition would be stable enough to adapt to military service.”

The administration has not yet addressed whether it will appeal the case.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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