Korean Mandatory Military Service

Mingi Woo

One thing that all men in Korea have in common is that they are all obligated to serve in the military but with few exceptions. Recently, with BTS Jin joining the Army, many foreigners might wonder what the Korean Military is like. Today, I will tell you a little about the Korean military and its culture.

The Three Armed Forces

Most countries have three major branches of the Armed Forces. As for the Korean man, they have the option to choose from the theses three branches. Additionally, there are sub-branches like the marines(해병대) which are part of the Korean Navy. Dependuing on their decision their service period may differ.

Army: 18 MonthsMarines: 18 Months
Navy: 20 MonthsAir Force: 21 Months


PX or BX is a military version of the supermarket, which is an essential part of a soldier’s life during their time of service. What people call PX or BX may differ by branches of the military. The Army calls it the PX which stands for Post Exchange and the Navy also calls it PX but it stands for Port Exchange, while the Air Foce calls it BX which stands for Base Exchange. Before, private companies were not permitted to enter a military base. Therefore, the military had the PX/BX for their military personnel. Since PX/BX are not privately owned, Value-Added Tax (VAT) is exempt. Additionally, PX/BX do not need to pay for rent or labor, which means products are sold at a greater discount.

Leisure Activity

What activities do soldiers do during their spare time? Now most soldiers use their mobile devices after they were officially allowed in 2019. This allowed them to call, watch videos, or study with their mobile devices. However, there is one activity that is still popular even after the introduction of mobile devices which is Jokgu (족구). Jokgu is a sport that was first invented by the Korean Air Force in 1960 as a way of promoting exercise. To describe the rules of the game, it is very similar to that of a volleyball, but the players cannot use their arms like normal. You can think of it as a mix of football and volleyball. The objective of the game is to send the ball to the other side of the net like in volleyball, and each side is allowed three contacts with one bounce in-between contacts. As of today, it is the sport to play within the Korean Military with professional teams, schools, and leagues all around the country.

This is just a quick introduction to the Korean Military, and I will be back for part two for more information.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: