South Korea is considering a measure to broaden exemptions for mandatory military service among its citizenry.
According to a report by Inven translated by TL.net’s Kwanghee Woo, a bill is being planned that would allow internationally visible figures to delay their recruitment until age 30. Woo specifically notes star League of Legends player Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok and boy band BTS as individuals that could be impacted by this.
A new bill is being planned in Korea (might as well call it the “BTS and Faker bill”), to allow individuals who have made significant contributions to Korea’s global image through pop culture and/or esports to delay their military service until age 30. https://t.co/aBHaKPLMTv
— Kwanghee Woo (@SaintSnorlax) September 2, 2020
If passed, this would allow Korean citizens like Faker to delay their service for a longer period of time. South Korea requires 21 months of military service from all male citizens, including expatriates. They are currently required to enlist by age 28.
The passage of the bill would be a major boon for South Korean competitive gamers and celebrities of all sorts. This bill and draft exemptions in general are still a touchy subject in South Korea.
Mandatory military service in South Korea has been a huge struggle for many athletes from the country. One of the most notable examples of this is UFC fighter Jung “The Korean Zombie” Chan-Sung, who lost three years of his competitive prime due to mandatory military service. Korean boy band BIGBANG also notably had its members join the military, something that prevented the group from touring or taking part in other related events.
This is just as troublesome in esports, as Dota 2 pro Park “March” Tae-won can attest to. The current TNC Predator captain left MVP Phoenix in 2016 due to his time in the military and was left out of playing for three seasons.
While this was devastating for Jung and March, other sports stars can get around mandatory military service by winning international sports competitions and contributing to South Korea’s international standing. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin and Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min were both given exemptions from mandatory military service due to their first-place finishes in the Asian Games. Olympians and other renowned athletes have also been given exemptions.
While Faker and other celebrities would benefit from not having some of their prime earning years taken away, this hasn’t been well-met by everyone in South Korea. The exemptions and extended deferments given to athletes are labeled by many as preferential treatment for the rich and famous.
League of Legends and BTS fans likely won’t be too grumpy about the change, should it come to fruition.