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(Olympics) 7 S. Korean male athletes eligible for military exemption after winning medals

All Headlines 14:05 February 26, 2018

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- Seven South Korean athletes who won a medal at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be eligible for military exemption, officials here said Monday.

All South Korean men between 18 and 35 are conscripted into the armed forces for about two years, but athletes who earn an Olympic medal or an Asian Games gold medal are effectively exempted from the mandatory service.

The seven athletes are: skeleton slider Yun Sung-bin, bobsledder Seo Young-woo, speed skaters Cha Min-kyu, Kim Tae-yun and Chung Jae-won, and short trackers Lim Hyo-jun, and Hwang Dae-heon.

In this file photo taken Feb. 22, 2018, South Korea's Hwang Dae-heon (R) and Lim Hyo-jun shake hands ahead of the men's 500-meter short track speed skating final at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap)

Yun, 23, won the gold medal in skeleton, becoming the first Asian to win an Olympic medal in sliding sports. Seo, 26, was a member of the four-man bobsleigh team that won silver.

Cha, 24, bagged silver in the men's 500-meter speed skating, while Kim, 23, finished third in the 1,000m. Chung, who took silver in the men's team pursuit, is still a minor at age 16, but he will be eligible for special exemption when he gets conscripted.

Lim, 21, grabbed gold in the 1,500m and bronze in the 500m short track speed skating. Hwang, 18, was the silver medalist in the 500m.

The seven athletes are not technically "exempt" from the military service, but unlike their peers, they don't have to stay in barracks or train full time. Instead, they are only required to put in four weeks of basic training.

After their basic training, they'll become servicemen in arts and sports under the conscription law. Officially, they will be soldiers for two years and 10 months, but they will be free to take part in international competitions and compete for their clubs.

In this file photo taken Feb. 21, 2018, South Korean skeleton slider Yun Sung-bin bites his gold medal during a press conference at the Main Press Center in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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