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Korea: Military Service

Military service in Korea: Is there any topic more sensitive? And draft dodger? And even a public figure? That spells death in society. Several years ago, a popular male singer chose American citizenship in order to evade military service. After it was exposed, he is still not allowed to return to Korea. His main stage is in China now. His statement in an interview that he hopes to come back to Korea brought outrage among people in Korea. He isn’t forgiven, especially by men who have already devoted years of their youth to military service. Maybe he will never be forgiven.

Another singer made a mistake about military service. While he was in military service, he didn’t perform his duties adequately. His duty was called ‘byeong yeok teuk rye: san eop che yo won’ (special military service: industrial field service men). He finished it several years ago. Then somehow the fact that he did not completely perform all of his duties has been exposed. After an investigation, it was decided he would go to military service again and he accepted it with public apology. There are several reasons why he is blamed. It is suspected that he used a private connection to go to the special military service through his relative, even though he was physically healthy. Even though he didn’t have any special skills, he was allowed in with a certificate that many Korean young people acquire. In addition, repeated suspicious military service exemptions for healthy male entertainers (like singers and movie stars) makes people angrier about this scandal.

[In Korea, there are different kinds of military service. The most common service is to serve for 24 to 28 months as national soldiers. They work in the air force, navy, and the national army. They stay together and are sometimes allowed to take vacations. Usually, healthy Korean men serve in this. The other one is public service, which has to serve for 18 to 28 months. Like regular workers, they work from morning to afternoon in public service places. The division is by physical status (but other matters are involved which causes criticisms) or special skills, such as technical skills. And there are men who can be exempted from this service due to physical or mental status (or other matters). They are called ‘God’s sons.’ The singer Psy’s case was to serve his duty in an industrial company – regular working hours – instead of military service as the qualification of skillful technician in IT for three years.]

Does he really have to go through military service again? Some wonder about it. That’s the only way to justify military duty. Others are so sure of this judgment.

Moveon21 was shocked about the decision that the Prosecutors’ Office made.

군대 제대한 사람 중에 지금 다시 군대 갔다 오라고 한다면 받아들일 사람 있을까. 난 거짓말 하나 안보태고 천억을 줘도 안 간다. 이건 남자에게 교도소 2년 갔다 올래와 거의 차이가 없는 질문이다. 아마 병역필한 남자라면 나의 말에 거의 동감할 것이다.

지금도 가끔 피곤하면 군대에 다시 붙들려 가는 꿈을 꾼다. 영장을 제시하는 병역청 공무원 앞에서 이건 착오라며 다시 확인해달라며 울부짖다 깨곤 한다. 군대 가기 전엔 누군가에게 쫒기는 꿈을 악몽이라고 꾼 거 같은데 군대 다녀온 후에는 군대 다시 가는 꿈이 지금까지 악몽의 자리를 차지하고 있다. 아마 내가 더 충격적인 경험을 하지 않는 한 죽을 때까지 군대는 악몽으로 남아 있을 것이다.

그런데 이 어이없는 악몽의 상황에 우리가 잘 아는 한 남자가 직면해 있다. 바로 싸이다. 검찰에서 부실근무 판정을 받은 싸이에게 현역입대 판정이 확실시 되고, 싸이는 행정소송 하지 않고 그냥 받아들이기로 했다고 한다. 아무리 복무를 부실하게 했기로 서니 다시 군대까지 가야 한다니, 만약 내가 저 처지라면 생각하니 악몽이 떠올라 온 몸에 오한이 드는 기분이다. 그래서 싸이의 부실근무 사건을 바라보면서 고소함 보다는 말할 수 없는 착찹함을 더 느끼게 된다.

국가가 싸이를 다시 한 번 군에 부른다면 그건 법이 아니라 폭력이다.

How many men who already went through military service can accept it if they are asked to go to military service again? Without any bluffing, I wouldn’t go even though someone will promise to give me 100 billion won (more than 100 million US dollars). This is not much different from asking men to going to prison for two years. I’m sure all men who went through military service will agree with my opinion.

Even now I have a dream of being dragged to military service when I’m tired. I cry, asking the government official who brought the order form to check one more time, ‘it’s a mistake.’ Before I went to military service, I had a nightmare of being chased. After military service, my nightmare is to be dragged to military service again. As long as I don’t have any other shocking experience, this dream will be my nightmare.

And there is a man who is facing this nightmare now. It’s a singer, Psy. Due to insincere duty, the Prosecutor’s Office ordered him to go to military service again. He decided not to appeal. Even though he didn’t follow the duty well, he has to go to military service again! I felt chilly because it reminds me of the nightmare. Rather than feeling fair, I feel perplexed.

If the nation called him again, this is not a law, but violence.

About his post, there are already 95 opinions below.
One poster, Himneyo, doesn’t understand how it was possible for Psy to work so casually and to skip working hours, and he sympathises with other special duty men.

한해 약 4000여명이 병특으로 병역의무를 이행합니다.
그들이 어떻게 일하는지는 아시는 지 모르겠네요.
신문기사 몇 개 뒤지면 다 나옵니다.
어떤 사람들은 거의 노예 생활합니다. 왜 그런 노예 생활을 하느냐.
그 회사에세 짤리면 군대가야한다는 심리적인 압박때문입니다. 님들이 말한 국가의 통제가 민간업체에게 위탁된 겁니다.
그리고 그 민간업체는 국가에서 관리하는 식이구요.
물론 업체에 대한 국가의 관리가 허술한 측면이 있습니다.
갖은 불법들을 업체가 저지르니까요. 파견/불법적인 야근,특근 등

Every year, about 4,000 men enter military duty as ‘special military service.’ I don’t know whether you know how they work. Check several news articles. Some guys work like slaves. Do you know why they endure it? Because they are afraid of being sent to the army if they get fired there. The nation’s control is left in charge of private industrial companies. Those companies are also controlled by the nation. But the companies sometimes commit illegal activities. They illegally force those service men to do overtime, special duties, and extra works.

Bloggernews satirizes the unfairness of military service.

사실 예전에 싸이씨가 IT 업종으로 병역특례업체를 들어간다는 소리를 듣고 친구들이랑 피식하면서 웃었던 적이 있습니다. 그리고 자격증이라고 내민것이 정보처리기능사라는 말을 듣고는 참 용감하다라는 생각도 했었구요.
( 4년제 대학만 마치면 정보처리기능사보다 상위의 정보처리기사 까지도 아무나 다 따는 세상에…-_-;;;)

싸이측에서 주장하는 기획과 테스트도 프로그램 개발 과정에 들어간다라는 말… 네 맞습니다..
그런데 문제는 제가 아는 대부분의 병역특례업체에서는 기획과 테스트를 목적으로 사람을 뽑지는 않는다는 겁니다..–;;;
대부분 직접 개발이 가능한 인력을 뽑아놓고, 그 사람이 기획도 하고, 개발도 하고, 테스트도 하고, 매뉴얼도 쓰고.. 하는 멀티 플레이를 시키죠…

개발 능력이 전혀 없는 가수 싸이가 정말 저런 업무를 하기 위해서 병역특례업체를 들어갔다면.. 모종의 커넥션에 의해서 특혜를 받았다고 밖에 볼수가 없겠군요.

When I heard that Psy was chosen for ‘special military service for industrial sector’ related to IT, I laughed with my friends. The certificate that he showed was the ‘data-processing technician.’ At that time, I thought he’s really brave (anyone having 4 year old college here has this certificate or higher ones).

Psy’s insistence that ‘planning and testing programs can be also included in the program development process,’ yeah, that’s right. But the problem is that none of the industrial companies for special military service selects people with this qualification. Most of them are selected because they can work as “multi players,” such as developing, planning, testing, and using program manuals.

Psy, who doesn’t even have any ability to develop programs, worked in this special sector. Who is not going to think that he had some connections and used them to get benefits.

Some bloggers give more direct suggestion.

제가 알기로 병역특례자 되기가 하늘의 별따기로 알고있는데여. 상위 3%로의 뛰어난 능력을 가졌거나 아니면 돈이 많다거나 둘중 하나겟져

What I know is to be a special service man like Psy is the same as pulling stars down from the sky. The top three percent can be included, like people who have special abilities or have money. Either one.

물론 한국에서 군대가 사라지는것이 가장 좋은 방법이겠지만..
현실적으로 불가능하다는 것은 모든 국민이 동감하실 거라고 생각합니다.
이왕 가야하는 군대.
조금 더 용기를 내서 확실하게 해결하면 안될까요?

The best way is to get rid of the army in Korea.
But all people will agree with that is impossible. The military service we have to go through anyway.
Isn’t it better to go through (solve the problem) bravely?

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