SOUTH KOREA: lower courts find COs innocent and citizenship dropping in order to evade draft

In south Korea, a growing number of lower courts have recently ruled in favour of COs, acknowledging their right to the freedom of conscience. One example is “Suwon district court” which on August 13th found two COs not guilty. The court said that “their objection to military service neither undermines the function of the nation nor violates others’ rights and interests”. A day earlier, the Gwangju District Court ruled in favour of a conscientious objector, based on a similar argument. Though this is an improvement in the status of COs in south Korea, the supreme court has not been making similar judgements, having turned down an appeal of a CO on August 28th, thus imprisoning him for 18 months. Additional reports suggest that thousands of south Koreans have been leaving South Korea and dropping their citizenship in order to escape the 24 month military service. Other young men try to avoid draft have been covering themselves in tattoos – which is now considered "wilful tampering" of one’s body, and may result in a shortened military service or in various punishments, or going though the process of proving that they have a "personal or behavioural disorder", such as being gay.

Sources:Korea IT Times, Supreme Court’s Controversial Prison Sentence for Conscientious Objector, 29 August 2015 RAPPLER, S. Korea's top court keeps conscientious objector in jail, 28 August 2015 The Korea Times, Court rulings over conscientious objections differ, 27 August 2015 Turkish Weekly, Nationality switch helps SKoreans avoid armed forces, 14 September 2015 Korea Times, Nearly 6,000 men abroad exempted from military duty, 14 September 2015