January 14, 2016 10:45
More than 1,000 South Korean conscripts have applied to postpone their discharge from military service amid mounting cross-border tensions since North Korea's nuclear test last week.
About 900 Army soldiers and some 150 Marines expressed their willingness to stay on duty, according to a tally based on data from the military.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said most of the applicants are combat troops in frontline areas.
Last August, about 100 conscripts also applied for delayed discharge immediately after North Korea's box-mine attack and an exchange of fire across the demilitarized zone.
The defense minister can approve the extension of service for enlisted men by up to three months.
But the Army decided to turn down the applications since the tensions are not life-threatening. The Marine Corps will also discharge most of the applicants except essential personnel.
"We welcome the soldiers' bravery, but we concluded that this crisis isn't as serious as last year's," the spokesman added.
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