[WORD_ON_THE_WEB] 'Exemptions in keeping with the times'

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[WORD_ON_THE_WEB] 'Exemptions in keeping with the times'

The dispute over BTS’s mandatory military service exemption continues.
The Military Service Act currently states that "persons who have promoted culture and enhanced national prestige" can have their service period adjusted.
The revision currently pending in the National Assembly will make it possible for pop artists who have significantly contributed to national interest to serve supplementary services.
Sung Il-jong, a People Power Party lawmaker who proposed the amendment, claims that pop musicians should also be subject to military service exemptions.
“Although BTS is not a ‘national team,' its achievements have made the band a symbol,” Sung stated.
Those who oppose fear the revision will undermine the fairness and equity of the law.
Shin Jong-woo, the Defense Security Forum’s secretary-general, expressed his concerns on a radio program, saying that the degree of national prestige enhanced will be too ambiguous to quantify.
Shin added that if the political parties fail to approach the matter carefully, the people could feel like the amendment was a special exemption made for BTS only.
“Sports isn’t the leading factor of national prestige these days more so than culture. The exemptions should be offered in keeping with the times.”
“If we’re talking about fairness, it makes no sense to oppose BTS’s case. It’s not fair that only athletes get recognized for their contribution to national prestige.”
“BTS is not a national team and they haven’t won any official global contests. It’s not fair to favor them without objective criteria.”
“Korean men dedicate their youth to the country. Think about the sense of deprivation that they’ll feel. There should be a criterion acceptable to them. If we start making exemptions without a specific standard, the special cases will be endless.”
“National service is a very sensitive subject to a lot of people. However, it almost feels like they’re trying to hastily get this over with.”
“The lawmaker is the source of many problems. He’s pushing amendments when there isn’t enough national consensus on the matter.”

BY LEE SI-YEOUNG, YOO JI-WOO [yoo.jiwoo@joongang.co.kr]
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