By Jung Min-ho
Lee Jun-seok, the leader of a self-styled moderate conservative party, vowed on Monday to introduce legislation to require military service for all women who want to apply for certain government positions such as police officers.
Speaking to reporters at the National Assembly in Seoul, Lee, 38, said that he would press ahead with changing to the current system that requires all able-bodied men ― only men ― to serve in the military for at least 18 months.
“The Reformist Party will make military service mandatory for those who want to apply for jobs police, maritime police, firefighting and correction divisions and agencies regardless of gender as early as 2030,” he said. “Article 39 (1) of the Constitution says all citizens should share the duty of national defense. But so far, only the half (of the population) has shared that burden.”
Faced with intensifying security threats from North Korea amid South Korea’s rapidly falling birthrate, Lee said such change is essential to sustain sufficient defense capabilities.
Military experience would be more useful for those jobs than “getting one or two more correct answers” on the qualification tests, Lee said, adding that the military would be able to recruit an additional “10,000 to 20,000” applicants annually if the new policy comes into force.
He added that his party would review whether to expand the policy to more government posts if it proves to be successful.
The message appears to be aimed at young male voters, the core base of his party, ahead of the general elections on April 10 as it tries to differentiate itself from the ruling conservative People Power Party.