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58 conscientious objectors to be released on parole

The government will grant parole to 58 conscientious objectors to mandatory military service and release them from prison Nov. 30.

The Ministry of Justice announced Monday that it would grant parole to 58 conscientious objectors who had served at least six months in prison. 


The Supreme Court ruled in favor of conscientious objectors Nov. 1, recognizing sincerely held beliefs as a valid reason for refusing military service. In June, the Constitutional Court had called for alternative programs for conscripts who refused enlistment for reasons of religion or conscience.

The 58 conscientious objectors will perform community service during their parole.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, refusing to perform military service was punishable by up to three years imprisonment. In recent years, conscientious objectors have normally been sentenced to 18 months in prison and paroled after a year.

The ministry said the parolees were selected after a thorough review of their cases to check the sincerity of their beliefs. Five others who were also considered for parole have to wait for a decision. Currently, 71 conscientious objectors in South Korea are incarcerated.

By Choi Ji-won (