Experts have called on the military to accept that a multicultural army will replace its focus on racial purity that has somehow survived into the 21st century.
According to data from the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in January last year, 1,165 19-year-old men from multicultural families become subject to the draft this year. If the trend continues, the number will rise to 3,045 in 2019 and over 8,000 in 2028, when the total number of enlisted men from mixed backgrounds will exceed 12,000.
At the same time, the military will suffer a shortage of men rising to 37,000 in 2029 due to the low birthrate, the Defense Ministry projects. In that event it will become inevitable for men from multicultural families to serve in the military to maintain necessary troop levels.
Multicultural barracks are also essential to promote social integration. Some 211,458 marriage migrants lived in the country as of January last year, and they had some 151,154 children. And international marriages have been on the increase, from 24,776 in 2003 to 34,235 in 2010.
"Military service is a fundamental duty and right of citizens," says Hong Doo-seung, a professor of sociology at Seoul National University. "It's natural for children from multicultural families to fulfill their military service as full members of society, which would contribute to social integration."