In South Korea, it is mandatory for all males to serve in the military for two years. This needs to be between the ages of 18-35 years old with most Koreans serving this in their early 20s.
Where does this come into football?
You might then be thinking what this as to do with football and the answer to that is quite a lot in South Korea. As this week the Korean Football Association or KFA for short president spoke up on this subject.
As the KFA president, Chung Mong-gyu was quoted as saying, “Korean players face difficulties at their peak as it coincides with their military duty. I’ll discuss with the government about potentially granting more exemptions, pushing the age limit and expanding player selection for military teams.”
Military service is mandatory mostly due to the countries relationship with North Korea. For this reason, in the current political climate, it seems unlikely anything will change soon in terms of the military service. Although Mong-gyu will be hoping the government can be flexible on when footballers need to take part.
If anything will happen in this regard is still unclear, while most people in the country are sceptical of any changes being made.
In the past players have found ways around this as in 2012 Park Chu-Young then of Arsenal delayed his duty by ten years. Although this was due to his 10-year residency visa from Monaco meaning he could put off his service until 2022.
Meanwhile, it looks like Tottenham Son Heung-min will have to soon take part in compulsory military service. Although the Asian Games take place next month and any South Korean who takes home a gold medal will be exempt from military duty.
This rule also applies to the national side who take part in the football tournament at the Asian Games and Tottenham have announced they will be allowing Son Heung-min to play in what is basically an Under 23 competition.