East Asia Korea

COLUMN: Four roads diverged for Son Heung-min facing the mandatory military service

written by Eugene Choi, Football Tribe Korea

Credit: Getty

The 25-year-old Korean is undoubtedly one of the best Asian football players now. This wing forward has recorded 18 goals and eight assists in 41 matches.

However, he has not been linked up with any bigger club than Tottenham Spurs. One of the reasons is the military service he is yet to complete.

All Korean men must complete 21 months of mandatory army duty. Those who are employed overseas can postpone the commencement until they become 27 years old, or in July 2020 in his case.

It is known that Son had completed his conscription examination in 2016. This examination cateogrises men into four groups based on the physical and psychological constitution as well as qualifications such as educational background and age:

– Active duty: those who to be on active duty for 21 to 24 months, the length of which is based on military branch;

– Non-active duty: those who are to perform “supplemental service” such as social work;

– Second citizen service: those who are to be called up in time of war only; and

– Exempt: those who are to be exempted from any military service

As Son has does not hold a high school diploma, he shall be considered a non-activy duty personnel, who is likely to do a social work for 24 months.

However, to understand his situation better, Football Tribe Korea has contacted the Military Manpower Administration (MMA), a military organisation under the Ministry of National Defense, and found out that he has four roads in front of him to either military service or exemption.


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