SEOUL, May 17 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea will phase out the military’s special rule that exempts natural science and engineering students from the compulsory military service in a move that takes into account the country’s dwindling population, the defense ministry said Tuesday.
All able-bodied South Korean men are required to finish a two-year military service as the country has been technically at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Annually about 28,000 students with natural science or engineering majors from top-rated schools get exempt from serving in the country’s armed forces so they can concentrate on their studies. The special rules were also set up to boost the country’s industrial potential by allowing talented people to work in companies instead of going off to become soldiers.
“Because of a shortage of active-duty soldiers … the system to allow specially exempt forces will be completely phased out by 2023,” a ministry official said.