January 26, 2013 08:58
More young men are avoiding their mandatory military service by failing to return from traveling or studying abroad. The numbers grew from 62 in 2007 to 149 in 2012.
According to the Military Manpower Administration, altogether 915 men have now postponed their military service for overseas trips and not reported back.
Overseas travel is becoming easier and a number of controls that ensured that young men would return have been abolished.
In 2007, the government scrapped a rule that required all men under 24 who have not fulfilled their military duty to apply for a travel permit, though it is still required for men over 25 who still have not served.
This makes it easier for men under 24 to leave and stay away from Korea until they are old enough to be exempt.
The most frequently cited reasons for leaving the country were study abroad with 523 men or 57 percent, and short-term travel with 276 people or 30 percent.
The U.S. was the most popular destination for 758 people, or 83 percent, followed by 27 people going to Canada with 27, Australia with 26, Japan with 15, China with 10, Germany with four, and others with 62.
Those who leave the country and stay away with the intention of avoiding military service are subject to a prison term up to three years.
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