As it stands currently, all men age 19-28 have to serve in the military for a period of one and a half to three years depending upon the branch and occupation in their daily life. However, there are some exceptions, the highest tier of athletes are exempt from this requirement, as are some well-known performers, artists and students who are pursuing higher education have the option to delay their required service.
The proposed bill specifically mentions Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok best known as the 3 time league of legends world champion, as well as popular K-pop group BTS, mentioning that both parties could be “recommended by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as an outstanding person in the field of popular culture and arts.” This recommendation will allow someone to delay their military service until the age of 30, currently there is no option to withdraw completely, only to delay.
This proposed solution is a massive step in the right direction even for an esports friendly country like South Korea. This will allow athletes and players alike to continue their successful career without disrupting it because of the mandatory law.
Another instance where we saw a popular athlete that had to withdraw from his career temporarily was UFC MMA fighter Chan Sung Jung, better known as The Korean Zombie. Jung announced in mid-October 2014 his intention to begin his stint for mandatory military service in his home country of South Korea. While Jung did not comment about the future upon his completion, his manager indicated that he would return to mixed martial arts at the end of the two years.
After Jung served his time, he successfully transitioned back into his career of professionally fighting. Hopefully the bill that is introduced gets passed and helps athletes, performers and players schedule a better timeline on when to serve and how it effects their normal career and life.