Military revises its standards for active service

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Military revises its standards for active service

The military is strengthening qualifications for its active service members amid a limited number of vacancies per eligible recruits.

This year, the number of those admitted to active service following a physical examination, but who have yet to start serving, stands at around 52,000, according to the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

The institute expects that the number will only rise if the situation does not change, potentially reaching up to 213,000.

The Ministry of National Defense on Thursday announced a new plan to revise the mobilization system to lower the number of those waiting to serve their duty.

“The new revision is strengthening the standards for active service in an effort to ease a congested situation,” said an official from the Defense Ministry. “We are also allowing those who take daily medications for certain conditions to serve reserve duty in order to obtain better treatment.”

The ministry said that it aims to apply the revision at the end of October at the earliest.

In Korea, men are obliged to go under a physical examination once they turn 19 by the Military Manpower Administration, which determines their physical fitness level, or grade, for military service. Those who are in the first to third grades must serve active duty, while those in the fourth grade serve reservist duty, which usually involves working at public facilities and commuting from home.

The revision focuses on pushing more people down to the fourth grade, and the ministry expects some 14,000 people will be eligible to fall to the fourth grade with the changes.

Body mass index (BMI) standards will be tighter. A person’s BMI is a measure of a person’s body fat based on a calculation of their height and weight.

The new standard raises the minimum standard for active service from 16 to 17, considered underwent by the BMI index, and lowers the maximum from 35 to 33, in the obese range.

When applying the calculation to a man whose height is 175 centimeters (5-foot-9), those who are less than 49 kilograms (108 pounds), or more than 107.2 kilograms, are excluded from active service, according to current regulations.

Under the revision, the minimum and maximum standards change to 52.1 kilograms and 101.1 kilograms, respectively.

The ministry expects the BMI calculation alone could move between 7,000 and 10,000 men into the fourth grade.

Other standards are adjusted in the physical examination to reduce the number of those in the first to third grades.

Those who suffer from hyperthyroidism and need daily medication, for example, used to test into the third grade, though under the revision, the condition would be enough for a recruit to be moved into the fourth grade.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the body produces an excess of the thyroid hormone, which can cause irritability and muscle weakness, among other symptoms.

Currently, those with high blood pressure are moved to the fourth grade if a man’s systolic blood pressure is over 180 and his diastolic over 110.

However, the revision would lower those figures to 160 and 90, respectively.

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

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