Shameful abandon

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Shameful abandon

Draft dodgers are on the rise. A total of 4,220 young Korean men did not enlist through July despite their obligation to serve in the military, according to Kim Joong-ro, a People’s Party lawmaker and member of the National Defense Committee at the National Assembly. The number amounts to 8,000 per year — nearly double the 3,075 in 2013 and 4,386 in 2014. Compared to last year’s figure of 2,706, that is a nearly threefold increase.

In Korea, all young males over the age of 18 must serve in the military for about two years if they do not have any particular reason to do otherwise.

But they can avoid military conscription if they abandon their Korean nationality by either obtaining citizenship in another country after living there for some time or having multiple nationalities.

Our young draft dodgers living overseas have been harshly criticized by local citizens because they try to take advantage of the exceptions. We are dumbfounded at the dramatic increase in the number of people avoiding military service by giving up their Korean nationality even in the face of the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

Given the urgent need to reinforce our national security under such circumstances, that is an utterly lamentable phenomenon.

More worrisome is the fact that a considerable number of these draft dodgers are from the elite class in our society. Among them, 31 are sons of high-ranked government officials. People in the upper class, including senior civil servants, must pay heed to their sons’ military obligation more than anyone else.

Amoral parents who allowed their sons to abandon their nationality in order to avoid military conscription must be ashamed of themselves. They must learn lessons from overseas Korean parents who try to send their sons back to Korea so that they can fulfill their military service. Last year alone, 579 young Korean men living overseas volunteered for military service.

Ancient Rome was able to prosper because all Roman citizens finished their sacred military duty without exception. But the Roman Empire began to crumble after it increasingly relied on foreign mercenaries to defend itself.

We face a tough time due to North Korea’s nuclear threat. If we lose our nation, no one will protect our freedom and happiness. We urge our leaders to let their children fulfill their military duty at a time like this.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 19, Page 30
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