I was really shocked to learn that the South Korean government obliges all able-bodied men to serve in the military for at least two years. Yeah that’s 24 whole months!
So where does that leave Korean male entertainers? Compulsory military service is a fact of life in South Korea but two years in the army can be detrimental to the career of a young celebrity. South Korean stars will have to make a decision – whether to enlist themselves with the risk of their celebrity status fading or become a pariah by trying to dodge the draft, and not serve the country.
How do you escape serving in the army?
Well, there is no escape. However, if you are a technology researcher or professionally skilled worker with special expertise and work for companies that serve vital national interests, then you are exempted from this rule. Entertainers, however popular, are not exempted.
I also read that hundreds of expectant mothers in South Korea leave the country each year to give birth overseas so that their children can have dual citizenship and perhaps, escape time in the army.
South Korean singer Yoon Gye-sang (pic on right), a member of boy-band g.o.d. went through basic training and first served near the Demilitarized Zone where most of the North’s 1.2 million-man army is stationed. As a soldier, he earns 60,000 won a month, a pittance compared with what he received as being part of g.o.d. Now, Yoon serves at the Korean Forces Network (KFN), hosting a music show that plays the video clips most requested by the troops.
Another Korean star whom you might be familiar with who went through military service is Won Bin (29, real name Kim Do-jin). He enlisted on 29 November 2005. He was stationed at the Korean border, a position which he volunteered. However, Won Bin was discharged from military service on 02 June 2006 because he sustained a ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) knee injury. He underwent surgery and was officially discharged on 07 June 2006 after serving 191 days in the army.
If you know of Korean actors/singers who have served in the National Service or who will be enlisting soon, do tell us!