Today, I want to talk about Korean military. Some people may ask why talk about military in Korean language website? However, it is very important part of Korean culture.
All Korean male, except for few special exceptions, have to serve in the military for about two years. Army is 21 months service and Navy and Air force is bit longer than that.
Before I talk detail about military, I want to point out why this is important. Since majority of male go to military, most average Korean male do not work until 26~28. They have to go to college, and military service, so they are most likely to finish all of these when they are 26 ish. Therefore, if you see some 26~27 years old Korean male who have not had any work experience, it is not because they are lazy (Because I got that a lot).
I do not want to describe too much detail about the military, so I will describe some of the important facts.
There are two types, mandatory and occupational. There are people who do it as their job, and it works just like other country, where they work and get paid well. Now, for people who does not want to be soldier for life, they serve mandatory 2 years service with very little pay, and they finish at the rank of sergeant. (**Officer positions are of course for occupational soldiers). I also want to point out that this mandatory service is not like training camp or commuting thing. Once they go to military, they are cut off from their home and freedom, where they have to live in military base (with occasional vacations).
Also, once in the military, age is not a factor anymore. Everything is about ranks, and you would use pol. or hon. forms depending on their ranks, not age.
People who do not have to serve in the military can be caused by many things.
The lists I put is not perfect, and there are many details to each categories, but I am not too familiar with all the details.
1. People who have serious sickness they prevent them from military service (physical and mental)
2. People with dual citizenship and they decide to give up their Korean citizenship. (Yes, you lose your citizenship if you do not go)
3. Person who is responsible for family (ex: orphan or married and have children to raise)
4. did something great for the country (ex: gold medal list in sports)
There are many interesting things to talk about military, but I will stop here.
Let me know if you have any questions about this!