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New party woos soldiers with longer vacation pledge

The main opposition United Future Party announcing its election pledge at the National Assembly (Yonhap)
The main opposition United Future Party announcing its election pledge at the National Assembly (Yonhap)
The newly formed main opposition United Future Party on Tuesday unveiled an election pledge to offer soldiers longer vacations, extended tenures and higher pay.

It was the fledging party’s first campaign promise for the April general elections. The conservative group was launched the day before following the merger of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and two minor parties.

On average, conscripted soldiers take vacation every 1 1/2 months and can spend only one night out before reporting back to their unit. That could be changed to two nights out on a monthly basis, the party said.

The main opposition party also said it intends to give officers a longer tenure to serve.

According to the party, Korean officers are forced to retire much earlier than their peers in developed countries. Hence, adjustment is needed to secure competitive candidates for the armed forces.

The current retirement age is 56 for commissioned officers and 55 for noncommissioned. The party proposed raising both to 60.

The party added that it would better compensate the country’s reserve forces, who take part in compulsory annual training for eight years after they are discharged from their mandatory military service.

Korea has a 570,000-strong military, including conscripts, many of whom cast their ballots through absentee-voting systems.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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