Korea: May 21, 2004

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A South Korean court acquitted three young men who had claimed conscientious objector status when they refused to be conscripted into the army. While the majority of the voters disagree with allowing conscientious objectors, over 10,000 young Koreans have been jailed in the last few years for trying to evade military service. The three acquitted today were Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian sect with a long history of opposing conscription. Some 70,000 young men are conscripted each year, in order maintain the strength of the 650,000 man armed forces. But some 70 percent of the troops are volunteers, and most  of the men coming of age each year are not needed in the military. This has created a great deal of dissatisfaction over how those who will serve, and those who will not, are selected. 

 

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