South Korean man charged for piling on weight to avoid military service

Home / South Korean man charged for piling on weight to avoid military service

A South Korean man has been found guilty of attempting to avoid mandatory national service in the military by piling on more than 65lbs in the space of six months.

The 21-year-old man, who has not been named, was given a suspended prison sentence by the Cheongju District Court on Sunday, The Korea Times reported. Standing just over 5 feet 9 inches when he completed high school in February 2016, the man’s weight had ballooned to more than 250lbs by the time he reported for a physical examination prior to entering the armed forces in July.

With a body mass index above 36, he was instead assigned to complete his national service in a civilian post until police opened an investigation.

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The court had the power to impose a maximum punishment of five years in prison as South Korean law states that anyone who attempts to get out of the compulsory 20-month military service by fleeing, deliberately causing themselves injury or otherwise avoiding serving can be prosecuted.

There has been an increase in young men attempting to escape the rigours of military service in the South Korean armed forces, the majority motivated by religious reasons or after claiming to be conscientious objectors. By law, neither is a reason for not serving in the military.

South Korean high school students attend military trainingCredit:
LEE JAE-WON

Others are put off by reports of the harsh life as a conscript, with bullying rife, time off limited and monthly pay starting at a meagre £97.

In 2014, a 22-year-old sergeant who was just three months short of completing his service snapped at the constant hardship he faced. After completing a night watch over the Demilitarised Zone, the sergeant threw a hand grenade at seven colleagues preparing to go on duty and then emptied his magazine into the injured men. After reloading, he shot two more men as he approached a barracks block and then fired into the unit’s living quarters.

In all, five men were killed and a further seven were injured. Sgt Lim, who was only identified by his surname throughout his subsequent trial, was convicted in February 2015 and sentenced to death.

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