A recent case in South Korea has caught the attention of many, as a man known only as Mr. A was sentenced for missing his active-duty military service after receiving an enlistment notice in November 2018. Mr. A’s appeal, based on his personal beliefs against war and violence, was dismissed by the court. The court indicated that Mr. A’s avid interest in playing the popular game, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), played a role in their decision.
During two separate trials, Mr. A expressed his refusal to enlist in active duty service based on his belief against violence and war. However, the court ruled out his appeal, citing a lack of evidence of his participation in activities or communities related to non-violence and anti-war movements. Additionally, the court highlighted his interest in PUBG where players engage in simulated gun violence.
Despite this verdict, there have been recent legislative changes in South Korea. In December 2019, the National Assembly passed an amendment to the Military Service Act proposing an alternate service for conscientious objectors. This was followed by the implementation of the Alternate Service Act in 2020, allowing individuals to fulfill their military service obligation through alternate services on the grounds of freedom of conscience. However, this requires an application process and review by the Military Manpower Administration, which Mr. A failed to complete.
This case has sparked debate on the use of leisure activities and hobbies as determining factors in judging an individual’s conscience and beliefs, particularly in the context of conscientious objection to military service.
✍️1. What is PUBG?✍️
PUBG, short for Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, is a popular online multiplayer battle royale game where players engage in combat and aim to be the last person or team standing.
✍️2. What is conscientious objection?✍️
Conscientious objection is the act of refusing to comply with certain laws or to serve in the military due to one’s personal beliefs or religious convictions.
✍️3. What legislative changes have been made regarding conscientious objection in South Korea?✍️
The South Korean National Assembly passed an amendment to the Military Service Act, introducing an Alternate Service Act in 2020. This act allows conscientious objectors to fulfill their military service obligation through alternate services on the grounds of freedom of conscience, subject to an application and review process.
The case of the South Korean man sentenced for avoiding military service to play PUBG has shed light on the interaction between personal beliefs, leisure activities, and conscientious objection. It has also prompted discussions about the evolving legal framework for conscientious objection in South Korea. As society progresses, it’s essential to continue examining and reevaluating the criteria used to determine an individual’s sincerity in beliefs and conscience.