Friday, May 06, 2011

Conscientious objection in Korea

Ben Wagner and I wrote an article about conscientious objection in Korea for this month's Groove Magazine, which can be read here. I previously wrote on this topic six years ago here. While I was researching the topic, I came across a documentary (here) about Kang Cheol-min, a private in the ROK military who in 2003 held a sit-in during his first leave to protest the ROK sending troops to Iraq, for which he served a year and a half in prison. I was interested in the documentary partly because some Korean friends brought me along to the sit-in and I met him at the time, and wasn't that surprised to find myself in the background of one scene. At any rate, here are a few related articles from the Korea Times over the years:

Alternative Military Services Planned

[Times Editorial] Alternative Service

Alternative Service for Conscientious Objectors Reconsidered

68% Oppose Alternative for Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious Objectors Top 5,000

Conscientious military service objectors will appeal to UN

Military sees surplus of conscripts after shortening service duration

Korea to keep alternative military service until 2015 (for those with health problems, not COs)

UN calls for fair treatment of conscientious objectors

'I'd rather go to jail than serve in military'


Darth Babaganoosh said...

I've taught a few COs, most after they already served their jail time, and one before.

All the former would do it again, and the latter "looked forward" to it. This was all pre-2004.

I was under the impression COs were given alternative service instead of jail these days, as some of those failing their physicals do.

monty_internetty said...

The only CO's I've met in Korea were Jehova's Witnesses. It certainly opened my eyes to this predicament. I'm curious to find out what life is like for CO's after they served time behind bars. I imagine they have a hard time getting a decent job not to mention being ostracised by their community.

Anonymous said...

@ monty

In 2005 the NYT reported a little on CO Chun Chung-kuk's life after prison here.

Admin said...

Brave men. Much braver than I. I have been coerced to give up my freedoms. Most Koreans may think these guys are weak and stupid for not doing their time but I think they are extremely courageous for standing up to an entire government with very few people are backing them up. Unlike me, they have walked the walk.