Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Korea, Republic of
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Publication Date||20 May 2008|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Korea, Republic of, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb10fc.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Population: 47.8 million (10.8 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 687,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 19
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 19 1
Optional Protocol: ratified 24 September 2004
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC
The minimum voluntary recruitment age was raised from 17 to 18.
Although there was currently no armed conflict in South Korea, no peace treaty had been signed with North Korea and the two states technically remained at war. In June 2007 South Korea announced that it would resume food aid shipments to North Korea, which had been suspended following a nuclear test conducted by North Korea in October 2006.2 In October 2007 the leaders of South and North Korea agreed moves towards formally declaring an end to the war, although a full peace treaty is not expected for years.3
National recruitment legislation and practice
The 1987 constitution states that "All citizens have the duty of national defence under the conditions as prescribed by law. No citizen may be treated unfavourably on account of the fulfilment of his obligation of military service" (Article 39).
In its initial report in 2007 to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Optional Protocol, the government stated that the Military Service Act, which provided the basis for both compulsory and voluntary recruitment, had been amended in December 2004 to adjust the minimum age for voluntary enlistment from 17 to 18. With regard to conscription, the Act stated that every male would be enlisted into the first militia service when he attained 18 years of age, would undergo the conscription examination in the year that he attained 19, and would be enlisted into active service at the age of 19 or 20 (Articles 8, 9 and 16). Air Force Regulation 15-1 (provision on the operation of wartime education) was amended in April 2005 to delete a provision requiring that trainees at the Air Force Aerial Science High School be made to perform wartime duties, even if aged under 18.4
The Military Service Act also stipulated that special measures could be taken in exceptional cases, such as during wartime or emergencies, or in the event that an order of military mobilization was issued (Article 83). However, there was no provision that allowed for an exception to adjust the enlistment age to below 18.5
The military planned to reduce troop levels from 680,000 to 500,000 by 2020, and to cut the compulsory service period in stages by six months.6
Military training and military schools
There were several military schools, including the Military Academy, the Third Military Academy, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. In its initial report on the Optional Protocol, the government noted that under the Act on Establishment of Military Academies and the Act on Establishment of Nursing Military Academies, persons admitted into a military academy must be older than 17 and younger than 21. To be admitted into the Korea Third Military Academy, persons must be 19 or older.7
In January 2005 an army captain was arrested and an investigation launched into all 36 initial training camps, following reports of brutality against conscripts at a camp in Nonsan.8
Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR):
In its initial report on the Optional Protocol, the government noted that it had been "voluntarily contributing funds worth USD 2.1m annually to a variety of projects aimed at preventing the involvement of children in armed conflict, including a UNICEF project to protect children in areas beset by armed hostilities such as those in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo". The government reported that it had also pursued bilateral-level action with the intention of preventing children's involvement in armed conflict, including a US$2.3 million project contribution towards building schools, purchasing computers for classes and providing vitamins to students at elementary, middle and high schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.9
In September 2004 South Korea ratified the Optional Protocol, stating in its declaration that "In accordance with paragraph 2, Article 3 of the aforementioned Protocol, the Government of the Republic of Korea declares that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Korean national armed forces is 18 years."10 In April 2007 South Korea submitted its initial report on the Optional Protocol, which was scheduled for consideration by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its May – June 2008 session.
2 "Analysis: Seoul encouraged by N. Korea progress", World Peace Herald, 14 June 2007.
3 "North, South Korea pledge peace, prosperity", Reuters, 4 October 2007; "Peace Treaty Feasible in 5 Years", Korea Times, 24 October 2007.
4 Initial report of South Korea to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/KOR/1, April 2007.
6 "Stricter rules on substitute service planned", Korea Times, 31 May 2007.
7 Initial Report of South Korea, above note 4.
8 "Army captain arrested after forcing trainees to eat feces", Korea Times, 21 January 2005.
9 Initial Report of South Korea, above note 4.
10 Declaration of South Korea on ratification of the Optional Protocol, 24 September 2004, www2.ohchr.org.