Some facts about Korean military service

January 31, 2009 at 12:21 am 1 comment

Article originally posted at in 2007 (since the website doesn’t exist anymore, and as the article was quite popular, I post it again here).

So, I went on a little research abour this topic, and here’s what I found out (please correct me if I’m wrong).

– officially, South-Korea is still at war with North-Korea since no Peace Treaty was ever signed. Men are therefore trained for war, in extreme conditions.

– the mandatory military service was created in 1949, like the army, in order to protect Korea’s independance.

– every Korean male citizen must go to the army for a bit more than two years. They can be in the active service or civil service and administration jobs, depending on their health condition.

– the age limit is from 18 to 30 or so…

– they can be dismissed from it only if they are unable physically to do the training. They can also be released if they get a very bad injury during service, and come back after their recovery … or not if the doctors say so.

– the first months are active training in camp and it’s the same for everyone. Then, they can be sent to the DMZ or in dangerous areas, or to work in cities, public services, etc…

– according to my Korean friends and to what I found in books, it’s very difficult physically and psychologically. Korean men tend to have nightmares about military service even after they’re done with it !

– it’s strictly forbidden to avoid going to the army. If you say you don’t want to go to the army because of your conscience, religion, or such things, you’re very likely to have problems, to be sent to jail for some time, and to have troubles finding a good job later on. There is a big government and social pressure about this : if you don’t go to the army (except if it’s because of health problems), you are considered as a coward, even a criminel, a rebel to the State, or things like this. It’s a matter of pride for your family and such. But things may change slowly …

– some Korean men can avoid the military service if they have the US citizenship, which is becoming a trend these days : mothers go to the USA to give birth, the baby gets the US citizenship this way and will have the opportunity to have a different education later on and avoid the Korean military

Creative Commons License
Some facts about the Korean military service by Nathalie VELDHUIZEN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


Entry filed under: South Korea. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Camille  |  May 10, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Great, informative article. I know I’m writing this way after you wrote this article, but do you know anyone who went through the military service that I could talk to? or could you give me any more specific information?

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