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South Korea: To be a conscientious objector is not a crime

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World Without War

South Koreas Conscientious Objectors Are Getting an Alternative to Military Service

(09.07.2020) For the first time, there is a official path for those who have religious or moral objections to South Korea’s mandatory military service for men. On June 30, South Korea officially began taking applications from conscientious objectors for alternative service to the country’s mandatory military service for all men. Instead of serving around two years in the military, men can now apply for the new alternative service — working for three years in prisons or detention centers.

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Photo: Mari Park, Amnesty International

South Korea: Alternative to military service is new punishment for conscientious objectors

(27.12.2019) Conscientious objectors in South Korea will continue to be punished and stigmatized for refusing military service under a new alternative service law that was adopted today by the country’s parliament, said Amnesty International. Under the new law, those refusing military service on religious or other grounds will be required to work in a jail or other correctional facility for three years. Previously, they would have been jailed for 18 months.

Rally to conscientious objection in Seoul

South Korea: Conscientious objectors wait for alternative service as legislators remain idle

(23.09.2019) The military conscription system in South Korea has been in place for decades. Conscientious objectors’ fight against the system that criminalized them lasted nearly as long, and they chose to go to jail rather than serve in the military because their faith forbids bearing arms. Their decades long struggle came to an end in June 2018, when the country’s Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling that would lift the stamp of “guilt” from thousands of conscientious objectors. 

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Conscientious Objector

South Korea: After historic breakthrough, conscientious objectors face new challenges

(26.02.2019) South Korea’s Ministry of Defense proposed a system for alternative service to the military on Dec. 28, following a historic decision by the Constitutional Court in June, which ruled that the existing law does not guarantee freedom of conscience.

The court’s decision —which was a major victory for the movement to recognize conscientious objection in South Korea — has sparked a fierce debate over the issue. There have been tangible achievements, such as the Supreme Court finding a conscientious objector to be innocent for the first time ever on Nov. 1. However, the struggle over how the alternative service system will work is just beginning:

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