The Korea Herald


Government plans more ‘military credits’ for conscripted soldiers’ national pension

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 19, 2024 - 16:54

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South Korean soldiers participate in a training exercise in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Feb.27. (Republic of Korea Army) South Korean soldiers participate in a training exercise in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Feb.27. (Republic of Korea Army)

The South Korean government said Tuesday it is pushing to increase the benefits for conscripted soldiers by counting their entire service periods towards National Pension plan credits.

The National Pension Service requires one to have been enrolled for a minimum of 10 years to receive benefits, but those who have fulfilled their mandatory military duties can currently have their mandated subscription period cut by six months via the "military credit" system. The recent plan by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs seeks to expand that period from six months to the soldiers' entire service period, which is a minimum of 18 months.

"This plan requires the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Defense. But we expect the law revision to take place soon since both ministries agree to expansion of the military credit," an official for the Veterans' Affairs Ministry said.

South Korean law requires all able-bodied men to serve in the military, and outlines certain benefits to compensate for their contributions. Those who enlisted for their mandatory duties after Jan.1 of 2008 can benefit from the military credit system.

The state-run National Pension Review Committee passed the 5th National Pension Comprehensive Plan last October, which included the plans to expand the military credit.

The Veterans' Affairs Ministry submitted the plans for military credit expansion and other new benefits for conscripted soldiers in a report to President Yoon Seuk Yeol last week.

Another plan being considered is requiring state-run organizations to recognize the mandated service period as a period of employment, which means a person who served as a drafted soldier would have advantages in promotion opportunities or salary compared to those who worked for the same amount of years without serving in the military.

The current law allows individual employers to decide whether or not to grant such advantages to employees who completed their military service. South Korea had previously mandated giving an advantage to anyone who served in the military -- both via conscripted or voluntary enlistment -- in the hiring process of low-level government workers, but the system was abolished in 1999 after the Constitutional Court ruled it to be unconstitutional.

Other proposed plans include rewarding soldiers who operated in combat operations regardless of injury status -- the current law only mandates aid for those who were injured or killed -- and increasing the number of medical benefits for veterans.

The ministry plans to strengthen partnerships with local hospitals for the treatment of veterans who live too far from the hospitals under the Veterans Health Service Medical Center system, which are stationed in six major cities across the country. The goal is to increase the number of partner hospitals to 916 by the end of this year.