South Korean Defense Ministry Rejects Proposal for Female Conscription

SEOUL – The South Korean Defense Ministry clarified on Tuesday that it is not considering the conscription of women for the country's mandatory military service. This announcement follows recent discussions on the topic, spurred by a campaign pledge in the lead-up to the April general elections.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the spokesperson for the ministry, the proposal for female conscription requires careful consideration and social consensus. The issue resurfaced after Lee Jun-seok, leader of the Reformative Conservative Party, suggested that women should serve in the military first if they aspire to become police officers or firefighters. This proposal was part of his campaign pledge.

The discussion around female conscription comes at a time of looming concerns over the decreasing number of military enlistees, attributed to South Korea's chronic low birth rate. In response to these concerns, the defense ministry has adjusted the requirements for mandatory military service to include more overweight men.

In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military for at least 18 months. Women, however, have the option to volunteer for military duty as officers or noncommissioned officers. Recent years have seen a decline in the country's troop numbers, decreasing from about 600,000 in 2017 to approximately 480,000 in 2022, as reported by a researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

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