Plan to cut compulsory military service scrapped

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Plan to cut compulsory military service scrapped

Compulsory military duty will be kept at 21 months, the government confirmed yesterday.

This reverses an earlier plan to reduce the service period for those in the Army from 24 months to 18.

“We have decided to adjust the reduction plan as a solution to the weakened fighting efficiency of our troops due to the lack of manpower and military expertise,” said a military official yesterday. “The current security status after the sinking of the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island shelling by North Korea was also taken into account.”

The decision was put to a vote at a cabinet meeting yesterday, and it will take effect when it receives the approval of President Lee Myung-bak.

Once the change is made, those entering compulsory military service for the Army and Marines next year will be required to serve 21 months from Feb. 27; in the Navy, 23 months from Jan. 3; and the Air Force, 24 months from Jan. 1.

South Korea currently has roughly 665,000 men in service, and the military official pointed out that the plan to reduce the service period to 18 months would shrink the corps by 69,000 soldiers by 2029. However, with the revised plan, the decrease in manpower will be 37,000.

The Ministry of National Defense hopes to retain a 517,000-strong military force in 2020.

Conscripts currently in the Army serve 21 months and 4 days.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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