14 Cabinet members under Park exempted from military service

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) -- Fourteen out of 115 senior officials appointed by President Park Geun-hye were exempted from their mandatory military service, the state conscription agency said Thursday.

About 87 percent of ministerial and vice ministerial officials completed their active service or reservist duty, while the rest of them were not conscripted for health reasons, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) said.

The completion of their military service is slightly up from the Lee Myung-bak administration by 0.4 percentage point and higher than the Roh Moo-hyun administration by 7.8 percentage points, the agency said.

Nine out of 10 incumbent high-level officials' children have finished their active duty, it said, with seven of them subject to conscription.

In South Korea, which remains technically in a state of war with North Korea, all able-bodied men aged 18-35 must complete at least 24 months of military duty.

The military draft is a sensitive issue and draft dodging by the sons of senior officials and influential politicians has often damaged or ended their careers.

In the 300-member parliament, 47 lawmakers, or 18.4 percent, were exempted from the draft for health problems and imprisonment, the agency said.

Their exemption rate is 6.2 percentage points higher than that of Cabinet members under the Park administration, it noted.

By party, 20 were from the ruling Saenuri Party, 26 were from the main opposition Democratic Party, and one belongs to the minor opposition Progressive Justice Party.

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