Special oversight needed
The Military Manpower Administration announced a revision in the conscription law to tighten watch on senior public employees and their sons. About 700 officials on the ministerial and vice-ministerial level, and generals and judges in higher courts are subject to scrutiny.
Senior government officials are notorious for dodging military service, and their insensitivity and negligence toward their constitutional duty has become a major cause of public resentment toward state authority. Of 24,980 public employees at grade four or higher at 70 government offices, 10 percent, or 2,568, have been exempt from military service.
And of 250 male lawmakers, 53 - or one out of every 4.7 legislators - have yet to complete mandatory military duty.
Many of them skirted service by changing citizenship. According to New Politics Alliance for Democracy Rep. Ahn Gyu-baek, 18 sons of mid- or high-ranking government officials acquired U.S. or Canadian citizenship to avoid compulsory military service. A Korean-born male is not obliged to serve in the military upon being naturalized elsewhere.
Senior government officials’ disregard for military service in a country currently living in peace on an armistice treaty is an act of betrayal to the nation and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. This new government measure is not enough. Scrutiny must be expanded.
The public servants who have used illegal means to avoid military service must be punished, and those with sons who have changed citizenship in order dodge their military duty must face a disadvantage in office. Their identities must be revealed, visa issues restricted. They also should be levied with taxes and demoted so that they must literally pay the price for neglecting their responsibility to the country.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 16, Page 34