SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s military plans to restore its field training for reserve forces to pre-pandemic levels this year, the defense ministry said Tuesday, after three years of coronavirus-driven suspension or reduction.
Starting from March 2, the field drills will proceed in a full-scale format, according to the ministry. They were suspended in 2020 and 2021, and partially restored last year.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the military suspended the training program — the first such cancellation since the country introduced it in 1968.
Before the pandemic, most reservists were required to engage in three days of on-site training at military bases close to their homes.
The ministry said it will enforce a set of antivirus measures, considering the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
For the on-site training, reservists are required to take a COVID-19 test before they enter the base, while the number of reserve forces sharing the same barracks will be reduced.
“By pursuing the normalization of reserve forces’ training in 2023, (we) will seek to enhance the readiness posture amid a grave security situation,” the ministry said in a release.
The full-scale resumption comes as the country has lifted all its antivirus rules, except an indoor mask mandate.
All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve in the military for at least 18 months in a country that constantly faces North Korea’s military threats. They must also serve as reservists for about eight years from their discharge.