Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Fantasyland on overseas births to prevent military service

Yesterdays Joongang Ilbo had another snippet that had me rolling in the aisles of the subway erupting with laughter. A piece on the phenomenon of mothers traveling overseas to get their children non-Korean citizenship had this snippet:

One particularly sensitive issue deals with compulsory military service, which every man must carry out...critics of birth tours to predict that if rich people continue to buy an exemption for their children, the Korean Army will be made up of only people from the lower classes.

WHAT COUNTRY DO THESE "CRITICS" LIVE IN!?!? You mean to tell me that without a foreign passport a rich kid could not avoid military service by his dad putting 5-10 million won in the right pocket? Come on stop fooling yourselves "critics", it has always been relatively easy for the upper classes of Korean society to shirk from their duties as a citizen.

A few years ago when I was working with IT companies I ran across something related. As part of the governments targeted development program, a young man can be exempted from military service if he works for companies sanctioned by the government.

I visited such companies as a part of my job function once. As is the case with Korean companies I always got a thick packet of information about practically everyone working in the company. Most of them had very impressive well-decorated people on their rolls all with appropriate engineering degrees. However you almost always had one or two undistinguished people, usually young, with degrees in say "Sociology" or "Korean Art". When I would ask about these people I would be told they have "good contacts". Yeah, daddy always has "good contacts".


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