Court orders man to redo his military service

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Court orders man to redo his military service

The Seoul Administrative Court found Tuesday that a man completing his alternative military service working at his father’s company had violated the Military Service Act.

A 37-year-old man surnamed Yoo had served alternative military service for three years between March 2013 and February 2016 as an expert researcher at an institute approved by the military. After requesting a transfer from the initial institute he was serving at, Yoo spent 14 months, from February 2014 to when he was discharged, at the research institute which is run by a company of which his father was the representative director.

The National Police Agency only uncovered the connection in 2018 while probing the company for another allegation of violating the Protection of Communications Secrets Act. Police found during the probe that Yoo’s father had been the representative director effectively running the research institute. The Military Manpower Administration in turn determined Yoo to have violated the Military Service Act.

In November 2018, Yoo received a notice from the Military Manpower Administration to serve his compulsory military duty again. However, because Yoo was over 36, he was told to serve as a public service worker. In turn, Yoo filed a suit against the Military Manpower Administration to withdraw its cancellation of his completion of alternative service.

Under law, all able-bodied Korean men must complete between 18 and 24 months of compulsory military service. There are some exceptions allowing for those with master’s or doctoral degrees or specialized skills to serve at state-designated institutes and companies for up to 36 months instead of the military. Non-active duty personnel can also serve doing public service.

The Military Service Act stipulates that “any person who is a relative by blood within the fourth degree of relationship with the representative director of any designated entity” cannot be transferred to work at the institute or company.

Yoo denied that his father was effectively running the research institute, claiming that his father “had not been involved in tasks because of health reasons.” However, the court determined Yoo’s father to be the effective representative director and stressed that working as an expert researcher was a specialty case. “Compulsory military service is a constitutional duty given to all citizens to protect the country,” it said.

BY BAEK HEE-YOUN, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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