Military sends draft letters


Jack Lee, Reporter

This year, the Korean Military Manpower Administration (MMA) sent letters to every male Korean citizen born in 2004. Many SIS students have been the recipients of such letters from the MMA reminding them they will have to serve in the military next year. 

“I did not have any real emotional reaction to the letter considering that my family and I already saw the letter coming,” Philip Hahm (11), born in 2004, said. “At first, my older brother Collin, who recently finished his service, poked fun at the fact that we had to go to the military very soon. I knew that eventually I would have to go, but I do not know whether I will go right after high school or during my time in college.”

The letter contains an explanation of the law requiring mandatory service for male citizens and information regarding at which military department each person will be enrolled. By law, all men in Korea between ages 18 and 28 are required to serve at least 18 months of military service. 

As a part of the draft process, all men are examined for physical fitness for military service. If there is any abnormality that may cause problems with their competency in service, the military administration will likely not require or allow them to serve.

Among those who served the Korean military at SIS, Yong Kean Kim, who works at SIS’s IT help desk, shared his experience. 

“When I received a letter from the MMA, I was not very surprised.” Mr. Kim, SIS IT staff, said. “Because I was expected to join the army unless I give up my Korean citizenship, the letter did not personally come as a surprise. Life in the military was also fun for me because I learned a lot, especially learning to serve someone above me and manage my feelings. Some people say their lives in the military were not as great, but it was beneficial for me.” 

However, some SIS seniors feel different about joining the military. 

“Personally, I think it is unfair that we are forced to spend two years of our lives in the army, especially during our ‘primes’” Stan Lee (12), graduating SIS student, said. “But at the same time, I understand the reasons behind it, so I would say I feel mixed about it. With all due respect, I plan to attend after a year of college since the latter years of college tend to be more difficult.”

SIS graduates tend to make different choices for when to attend the military. Some students take gap years after graduation to complete their military service before college, while others choose to take gap years during college. 

“When I received my letter to do my military service, I was in a bit of denial that I would have to serve in the military,” Chris Park (12), who received the letter last year, said. “Military service feels like a hassle, but at least I will be disciplined, so it is not the worst feeling. But then again, every native Korean male will complete their service, so there is a bit of comfort in that there will be thousands of others in the same situation as I am. As for when I will do my military service, I wish to drag it out as long as possible and receive citizenship in another country. If that does not work, I will probably leave for the military after my second year of college.”