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Defense ministry says change in military system requires social consensus

Ministry of National Defense (Yonhap)
Ministry of National Defense (Yonhap)
The defense ministry said Tuesday any change in the country's military system, such as the introduction of volunteer or female conscription systems, should be decided based on social consensus.

Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan made the remark during a regular press briefing after an online petition demanding female conscription earned more than 100,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

Under the current law, all able-bodied South Korean men must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border. But women are exempted from the mandatory service, and they are only allowed to volunteer for the military as commissioned or noncommissioned officers.

"Any changes related to the conscription system should be based on the security situation. They should be decided after a comprehensive review on the military efficiency and social consensus," Boo said.

Volunteer or female military service has long been an issue in South Korean society amid a shrinking population. Last year, Mo Jong-hwa, then chief of the military recruitment agency, said the country is expected to experience troop shortage starting in 2032. (Yonhap)