In the latest of a series of events that inflamed tensions between South Korea and Japan, football player Park Jong-Woo appeared during the celebrations following his team’s victory over Japan in the bronze medal Olympic match with a sign saying “Dokdo is our land” written in Korean. The International Olympic Committee, which has rules prohibiting political statements from Olympic athletes, decided to withhold Park’s bronze medal and prohibit him from attending the award ceremony. The IOC has referred the final decision of whether to strip Park of his medal to FIFA.
While South Korean online reaction initially focused on the details of the Dokdo dispute, talk quickly turned to how Park would be treated by South Korea’s Military Manpower Administration. Star athletes in South Korea are able to enter a different branch of the military when they fulfill their mandatory military service. The separate duties allow these top athletes to continue their career, which would otherwise be interrupted by the two-year engagement in the military. Officials from the Military Manpower Administration, which oversees South Korea’s conscription system, have said that it is now unclear whether Park is legally eligible for special treatments.
South Koreans have long struggled with issues related to the draft, which is near-universally despised by young men but which is also considered a badge of honor and a prerequisite for becoming a full citizen. In the past, the country’s most popular politicians and celebrities have lost everything when it came out that they lied to avoid the draft or enabled a family member to do so. Interestingly, another member of the South Korean team which won in London, Park Chu-Young, had until recently also received criticism for delaying his military service. Park had received a 10-year residency visa from Monaco in connection to his work with the football team AS Monaco. The visa, which excused Park from military service until he turned 37 years-old, was offensive enough that many Koreans called for him to be removed from the national team.
From Newsis via Daum:
Military Manpower Administration: ‘We will look at the outcome of the IOC investigation and make a decision about Park Jong-Woo’s military service’
International Olympic Committee officials have withheld the bronze medal from Park Jong-Woo, the South Korean football player who played a role in his country’s victory over Japan during the August 10 match at the London Olympics. The IOC made the decision after Park performed the so-called ‘Dokdo Ceremony’ during his team’s rejoicing following the victory. A representative from South Korea’s Military Manpower Administration stated that they are now investigating how the withholding of the medal may affect Park’s eligibility to receive an exemption from military service.
On August 13th, an official at the Administration said that ‘now is not the time to give an answer rashly…our plan now is to wait for the IOC decision and then have a meeting with the relevant authorities to decide on the matter.’
The official added ‘since we do not know whether Park’s actions will result in a warning or a full stripping of his bronze medal we will wait for the IOC decision. Making a judgment at this point would not be appropriate.’
According to the Military Service Law Enforcement Ordinance, Section 47, Article 2, any athlete who receives a gold, silver, or bronze medal at the Olympic Games or who has a first place finish in the Asian Games will be able to serve out his military obligation working as an employee of the Department of Art and Sports.
Personnel in the Department of Art and Sports receive 4 weeks of basic training before working for 34 months as an athlete or a director within the department. From the athletes’ perspective, this arrangement is equivalent to receiving an exemption from the military, since they are able to maintain their career during this time.
It had been announced earlier that every athlete who participated in the bronze medal victory at this year’s London Olympic Games would receive special treatment if they had not yet completed their military service. However, with the uproar over Park’s ‘political’ protest during games, it is now unclear whether he will be able to receive the benefit.
The Military Manpower Administration is now in the midst of an investigation about how to respond to Park’s situation. Since there has never before been a case where an athlete was stripped of his or her medal, the law simply stated that the person who ‘received the award’ for first, second, or third place would also receive the benefits during military service. There are no supplementary details concerning what to do if the award is later revoked.
In this situation, even if the IOC ultimately decides to strip Park of his medal, his ability to receive military benefits will be decided on the basis of legal interpretation. It is also impossible to ignore South Korean domestic opinion, which has demanded that Park receive his benefits.
Comments from Daum:
Of course he gets an exemption.. an investigation is pointless!!
Why does the IOC have to come into this? did Park sell out his country? Of course Dokdo is our land. The Ministry is just watching to see what everyone else does before making a decision. Silence your nonsense and just give him his exemption
Jeez,, just the fact that we are having this conversation is ridiculous…
What is there to investigate
You could give him a medal and it still wouldn’t be enough
What could possibly be the relationship between an IOC decision and benefits for military service? Pathetic Military Manpower Administration! This is so painful to watch!
Just having an investigation implies that Dokdo belongs to Japan, idiots
You got pissed off and didn’t even read the article.
If you want to improve our nation’s power then you have to start with the fools inside of our country..
You get all fired up and talk nonsense
The guy who commented above, let’s start by fixing you, I hope you’re some foreign bastard. This is our chance to fix history~ pro-Japanese collaborators hurt our country’s development. Let’s get a list together of collaborators and run them out of the country~ Tool of the monkeys, yellow bastards, confess who you are~this is our chance to fix things
Hey Manpower Administration sons of bitches, how exactly is this an issue for investigation? IOC, don’t base your decision on what Japan says. The military service law is obviously a domestic law. The Manpower Administration doesn’t know who it is accountable to and just looks for someone else to make a decision. Park gets bronze medal treatment+the People’s Medal+prize money+a pension+the Order of Merit for National Foundation+the Park Jong-Woo Memorial Building+a stamp in his honor.
Military Manpower Administration, to which nation do you belong??? You’re not with the Japs are you??
This wasn’t something that Park did for himself.. Think about who he did this for. What’s wrong with the Manpower Administration deciding to give him the benefits?
Perhaps its because our government is so pro-Japanese but we seem to be unable to give anything better than this to a patriotic hero.
Are you kidding me!!
Always like this! A politicized event like the Olympics, run by a politicized IOC deserving of protest is now trying to dump responsibility on Park Jong-Woo.. Why are we discouraging our athlete after his excellent performance.
Park Jong-Woo, you’re the best. You and Koo Ja-Cheol put in the best effort. I look forward to you always being a good player.
Of course it’s a defenseless and unsupported athlete who suffers.. what did the other athletes do? Just stood and watched? Ah, of course, you were concerned that you might be stripped of your medal and lose the chance to do your military service with a four-week training, instead having to do the full two years? You isolated Park even more, get out of here
Exactly what I wanted to say [Kim Mi-Hwa]~~
The unfortunate fact is that Japan just has to get angry and then our parents [South Korean government] discourage their children. Only our country would do such a thing
Park.. at that moment you were a true Korean hero
Germany has to conquer Europe again. Then they will know how we feel. Senseless European bastards and bitches, come to your senses! This is how Hitler got his greedy ambitions