Resident Doctors’ Strike May Lead to Mandatory Military Service

Seoul - The ongoing strike by male resident doctors in South Korea could have significant implications for their immediate future.

According to Yonhap News Agency, these doctors may be required to commence their mandatory military service next year if their resignations, submitted in protest against a government education initiative, are accepted.

Last month saw a wave of resignations from trainee doctors across general hospitals, a move spurred by opposition to a government proposal to increase medical school admissions. Despite the mass resignation, the government has issued orders for the doctors to return to work. Lee Ki-sik, the head of the Military Manpower Administration, outlined that these male residents, obligated to fulfill national service, might need to serve as military or community doctors unless their training resumes.

Lee highlighted the unprecedented nature of the situation, noting the potential excess of doctors for the military's quota and suggesting possible amendments to regulations to accommodate this influx. While addressing the broader context of military service and demographic challenges, Lee confirmed that there are no current reviews to conscript women or initiate voluntary service frameworks. Furthermore, Lee acknowledged the ongoing review of the military exemption criteria for athletes and artists, aiming to establish a more equitable system.

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