In order to avoid military conscription, a group of 12 graduates from a South Korean university have discovered a clever trick: Getting Fat.
It is the conclusion a group of 12 South Korean men came to in order to avoid 22 months of compulsory military service.
The 12 men had heard that citizens who failed the compulsory physical exam, meant to determine whether candidates were fit for active duty, were exempt from doing the 22 months of military service. Instead, these candidates would do alternative service working as a public servant or working in industrial defense tasks which are often considered less gruelling.
Determined to fail the physical exam the young men embarked on a mission to eat “high-calorie foods such as pizza and hamburgers five times a day” according to the findings of the Military Manpower Administration.
The 12 men were said to have coordinated the plan over discussions in a chat room. They figured that taking high calorie protein shakes and drinking aloe juice in order to retain water would help them. They even ‘suggested acting “crazy” on purpose’.
After carrying out the scheme, one of the students managed to gain 30 kilograms in the span of six months.
State at war:
South Korea is one of a few world nations where military conscription is still compulsory (Switzerland, and Israel are others).
That is largely because South Korea is technically still at war with its northern neighbour. In 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea and started what was called the Korean War. The war ultimately sucked in two superpowers (America and China) and though the war ended in 1950 with an armistice, and an end to the hostilities, a peace treaty was never formed. Consequently the two Koreas are in effect still at war.
After the end of the Korean War, the South Korean government imposed compulsory military service in 1957 on all South Korean men through the Military Service Act. This act made it compulsory for any able-bodied South Korean man under the age of 28 to serve 22 months.
The erratic behaviour of their neighbour to the north, whose dangerous posturing and frequent provocations over the years, have raised the spectre of war on the peninsula and justifying the need for military service and having a large reserve troops which the military can turn to.
Recently there have been positive signs which have raised hopes of a potential thawing of the strained relationship between the two Koreas. The historic meeting between Trump and North Korea and the North Korean Leader’s visit to Seoul were two particularly positive developments in intra-Korean relations. As a result there have been hopes that some actual peace treaty might be signed which might bring a total end to the war.
Conscripts have to go through a gruelling training period which lasts many months and waking up at 6:00 every day.
Samuel Hwang 28, explains “In boot camp, the most grueling thing was marching for hours with our gears on. During my airborne training, we were not allowed to walk around. We always had to run or jog around and it was 3 weeks of physical and repetition training.”
Every South Korean man is obligated to carry out military service before the age of 28, no matter his social standing, income or notoriety. A South Korean man can avoid having to do military service under two conditions: he wins a medal at the Olympics, or he bring golds at the Asian games.
That is how Son Heung-min, the electrifying winger who currently plays for the Tottenham Hotspurs, managed to avoid conscription. For a very long time, his fate was uncertain. He missed out on earing a place on the podium in the 2016 Olympics after South Korea were eliminated by Honduras in the quarter finals. He was facing the certainty of 22 months away from football doing military service if he did not come back from this year’s Asian games held in Indonesia with the trophy.
Finally , South Korea won gold at the Asian games beating Japan 2-1 in the final and enabling Son Heung-min to avoid cutting his football career short.
The only other case of an exemption granted was for the entire 2002 South Korean football team which went all the way to the semi-finals during the world cup in Japan and Korea. The members under 28 of that team were all exempted from carrying out their military service.
Meanwhile , the 12 men caught for trying to weasel themselves out of military service are going to be prosecuted. If found guilty , they will have to undergo the two years of military conscription they were trying to avoid in the first place.