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Military to hand out cell phones to conscripts

All News 17:33 January 29, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) -- The Defense Ministry said Friday it will operate a new mobile phone system at the nation's military barracks, in which soldiers will be able to receive phone calls from their parents and relatives.

To this effect, the ministry has distributed a total of 44,686 mobile phones throughout all military barracks for the country's 630,000 soldiers in its latest effort to improve their living conditions.

One cell phone will be given to each group of eight to 10 soldiers staying together in the same living halls, starting Saturday.

Conscript soldiers in the barracks will be able to share the phones so that they can use it during free periods after working hours or during weekends, a military official said.

For security reasons, the phones will be programmed to only receive calls and will not be smartphones.

The military explained that soldiers will be able to send text messages to ask their relatives to call them.

Previously soldiers in military barracks were only allowed to use public telephones established at booths in the military camp when they made phone calls to their parents or friends. Otherwise, they had to borrow cell phones from the post exchanges.

The new system was adopted after a test-run of the phone service in frontline units first before expanding it to other barracks nationwide.

The military's plan to distribute phones comes after a series of military abuse cases in recent years that rocked the military organization and shocked the nation.

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