July 01, 2013 12:13
The higher the educational background and income of parents, the more likely their sons are to be exempt from military service, a survey suggests.
The survey of 39,096 male college graduates by the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training from 2007 to 2010 shows that 84.1 percent of young men whose fathers have a college degree or higher served in the military, 3.4 percent lower than the proportion among those whose fathers only had a high school diploma.
Some 7.5 percent of men with college-educated fathers performed some kind of alternative service for those physically unfit for active duty, as compared to 5.5 percent of those with less educated fathers.
The more parents earned, the less likely their sons were to perform active military duty. Some 88.8 percent of men with parents with a monthly income of W3-4 million (US$1=W1,140) served in the military, dropping to 87.1 percent among those with parents who earned W4-5 million, 84 percent with parents who earned W5-7 million a month, and 83.3 percent of those whose parents earned W7-10 million.
The sons of medical doctors were the least likely to complete their military service at 81.6 percent, second only to those whose fathers were unemployed and who won an exemption to help their families (79.7 percent).
Next came sons of pastors and other religious figures (82.7 percent), broadcasters or artists (82.9 percent), academics (83.8 percent) and, ironically, military officers (85 percent).
The average was 86.3 percent.
But military service proved helpful to young men finding jobs. Seventy-seven percent of those who completed their military service found jobs, 3.9 percent more than those who went into alternative service (73.1 percent) and 7.3 percent higher than those who were exempt (69.7 percent).
They were also more likely to land plum jobs in conglomerates or public corporations.
Yang Jeong-seung at the institute said, "Generally, the higher educational background or income of parents, the more likely their children are to be in good health, but the physical examination determining whether young men are fit for military service defied common sense."
"It seems related to information gathering about conscription physicals, so those who are more aware of ways of avoiding or shortening their mandatory military service have a better chance," he added.
But a spokesman for the Military Manpower Administration insisted the criteria for physicals are "entirely transparent" and there are at worst "extremely few" exceptional cases.
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