SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Korea Bizwire) –- The Air Force said Monday it has abolished a regulation that forces new conscripts to have their heads fully shaved as part of efforts to better guarantee their human rights.
The decision was made upon the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, which said that such an “excessive” regulation could violate conscripts’ rights.
Conscripts who join a military boot camp for the Air Force were required to have their heads completely shaved during their five-week training period, while those for the Army and the Navy are allowed to have a haircut that leaves their hair about 3 to 5 centimeters long.
“In accordance with the rights committee’s advice, we’ve decided to allow new recruits to have a plain butch cut just like those in other services,” an Air Force officer said, adding that the new rule began to be applied to those joining the military on Monday as the first batch of conscripts for the new year.
While noting that hairstyle regulations are part of the military’s efforts to boost operational efficiency and maintain cleanliness, the Air Force said that the eased rule is expected to help guarantee their right to pursue happiness.
The rights committee began reviewing the matter last year when a parent of an Air Force recruit filed a petition complaining of the regulation after his son was forced to have his head completely shaved upon joining the military, though he had had his hair cut neatly before being enlisted.
All able-bodied South Korean men must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border.