Park’s team reconsiders cutting military service period
Published : 2013-01-27 19:36
Updated : 2013-01-27 19:36
The transition team of President-elect Park Geun-hye is considering slowing down the implementation of Park’s campaign pledge to reduce the compulsory military service period for South Korean men amid heightened tensions with North Korea, sources said Sunday.
Reducing the military service period to 18 months from the current 21 months was one of Park’s key campaign promises. Critics have warned, however, that such a reduction could leave the armed forces without enough troops at times of high tension with North Korea.
The defense ministry has also cautioned that the issue should be pushed for carefully.
Military officials have said the proposed reduction would leave the armed forces short by an average 27,000 troops a year until 2030, and hiring noncommissioned officers to make up for the shortfall would cost the nation 700 billion won ($662 million) a year.
Tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula have also spiked recently as North Korea threatened a nuclear test and additional long-range rocket launches in response to a U.N. Security Council resolution punishing the regime for its Dec. 12 satellite launch.
Given the situation, the transition team’s foreign affairs and defense subcommittee is considering a proposal to carry out the pledge two to three years later in a phased manner, rather than putting it into practice right after the new government takes office, sources said.
By law, all able-bodied South Korean men must fulfill military service.
The foreign policy team also plans to focus its upcoming report to Park on how to cope with North Korean provocations and strengthen the country’s defense, such as measures to deter provocations along the country’s sea and land borders with the North and to deploy longer-range missiles at an early date, they said.
The team’s report is also expected to include measures to realize Park’s vision for the “Korean Peninsula trust process”
calling for dialogue and other cross-border confidence building measures, but the issue is expected to take less priority because of the current tensions. (Yonhap News)