Bae Sang-Moon starts 2 years mil­i­tary ser­vice

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

SEOUL: South Korean two-time PGA Tour win­ner Bae Sang-Moon swapped his driver for a ri­fle yes­ter­day, be­gin­ning two years of mil­i­tary ser­vice af­ter a failed le­gal bid for a tem­po­rary de­fer­ment. Ear­lier in the year, the 29-year-old had gone to court to seek an ex­ten­sion of his over­seas travel per­mit to con­tinue play­ing in the United States, but the ap­pli­ca­tion was de­nied.

“I’ll be back on tour in 2017,” Bae told jour­nal­ists be­fore en­ter­ing an army train­ing camp in the east­ern city of Chun­cheon. All able-bod­ied South Korean men aged 18-35 are re­quired to serve in the mil­i­tary for about two years.

Those be­tween 25 and 35 who have not yet com­pleted their manda­tory ser­vice re­quire a spe­cial per­mit to stay over­seas and Bae’s per­mit ex­pired at the end of last year. The dis­trict court judg­ing his case ruled that a con­script was not al­lowed to ar­bi­trar­ily sched­ule his en­try into the mil­i­tary-even if his pro­fes­sional ca­reer faces the risk of be­ing dis­rupted.

He was, how­ever, al­lowed to take part in the Pres­i­dents Cup last month in the western port city of In­cheon on con­di­tion that he start his mil­i­tary ser­vice when the event was over. South Korea’s armed forces rely heav­ily on a com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice sys­tem, with con­scripts-most in their early 20s-ac­count­ing for the lion’s share of its 690,000 ac­tive per­son­nel.

The coun­try re­mains tech­ni­cally at war with North Korea as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice in­stead of a peace treaty, and dodg­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice is a se­ri­ous crime pun­ish­able by im­pris­on­ment. Ex­emp­tions are very rare, al­though sports can of­fer a way out. Ath­letes win­ning an Olympic gold medal, for ex­am­ple, are not re­quired to serve. — AFP

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