According to a report from Football Asian, Tottenham forward Son Heung-min might be required to do another stint of military service in South Korea.
All healthy Korean men are required to fulfil their military service obligations but athletes who win a medal in the Olympics or win gold in the Asian Games are exempt.
Son was part of the South Korean side that won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games and was thus exempted from doing the mandatory full military service program.
However, he still had to do the minimum duty, which he did last year when the Premier League was suspended for a few months after the Covid outbreak.
Football Asian explain that apart from the three-week basic military training that Son did, he is also required to do 544 hours of volunteer work within 34 months of receiving his training.
If the 29-year-old fails to fulfil the expected 544 hours of volunteer work, he would be obliged to fulfil his original military service obligation.
The report reveals that Son is due to complete his volunteer work on May 2, 2022, but the Spurs forward had issues completing the quota due to the pandemic.
The 29-year-old has so far completed 249 hours and 10 minutes of volunteer work, which mostly consisted of advising young Korean football players through online live video conferences.
The Spurs star is also thought to have been part of various activities at the Korean Embassy in London.
However, according to the report, the problem for Son is that he is only allowed to volunteer online for 272 hours out of 544 hours, with the remaining 272 hours required to be done offline back in his home country.
This means that the Tottenham man still has to fulfil 294 hours and 50 minutes of volunteer work, most of it back in South Korea, within the next sixth months.
The report reveals that this complication for Son and other elite South Korean athletes was discussed recently at the Korean National Assembly.
However, it is explained that some arrangement is likely to be found to avoid the Tottenham man and other athletes having to do military service again.
Chung Cheong-rae, a member of the South Korean National Assembly, allegedly met with the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism at the National Assembly to ask for ways to replace the required volunteer duty.
Hwang Hee, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Korea, is quoted as saying: “Son Heung-min and other athletes are playing a role in promoting the national image. I will think about various ideas.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Given that it is because of the pandemic that Son and other top Korean athletes have not been able to fulfil their volunteer duties, one would expect the South Korean government to come up with a compromise.
By the sounds of the report, there certainly seems to be an acceptance at the top governmental level that the volunteer duty can be replaced by other activities or at least postponed.
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