On November 1, South Korea's Supreme Court declared that it is no longer a crime for those with a valid reason including reasons of religion, moral views, and more, to refuse the nation's law of mandatory conscription.
The trial which took place on November 1 involved a member of Jehovah's Witnesses named Oh, who refused to enlist for his mandatory service in 2013. Oh was found guilty, appealed the court's decision once, lost his first appeal, and attended his second appeal on this day.
Previously, the law stated that any capable individual who refuses to enlist for mandatory service is punishable by up to 3 years in prison, "unless there is a valid reason". Back in 2004, when a similar court case involving an individual who refused conscription for religious reasons took place, the same Supreme Court dismissed the case as having "invalid reasons".
Sources say that around 19,000 objectors have been jailed for refusing conscription since 1950, most of them Jehovah's Witnesses.
Following this ruling, which claimed that "To enforce conscripted military service would be placing limitations on one's freedom of conscience," the Ministry of National Defense has announced plans to seek an alternative for those who appeal against the nation's mandatory conscripted service. Until an alternative is in place, individuals involved in court trials for the above matters will have their mandatory services delayed.
Many are currently raising voices of opposition to this new ruling, "This ruling was a highly political move, and therefore unfortunate", "Those diligently carrying out their mandatory service may likely feel a great sense of betrayal from this ruling", as well as "We all went to the army for nothing", "Do you think we offered our time and efforts toward military service because we don't have liberal consciences or something", and more.