The situation in the Korean Peninsula is highly volatile given the series of missile tests by North Korea and the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. Nonetheless, major presidential candidates for the upcoming May election are offering populist promises such as shorter mandatory military services for young men without proposing clear visions on security and defense issues.
The main reason for the candidates to advocate for increasingly shorter military service length is based on the mentality that military service is something you have to avoid at all cost. Experts, however, cautioned that it is imperative for our society to create a milieu in which young people could feel proud of serving in the military.
In order to do so, some suggested that the government pay the soldiers well while giving academic credits for the duration of their military service. Others said that instead of giving them monthly pay outright, some of it must be kept in a saving account so that they can use the money for college tuition or business funds after discharge.
Just like some local governments pay young people monthly stipends, it is an equally meaningful measure for the soldiers to save up for the future. It is estimated that about 4 trillion won a year will be needed to raise the current average monthly salaries of 216,000 won to 1 million won in stages. But the Ministry of Defense said this is doable as long as the government has willingness to pull it off.