SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering requiring soon-to-be conscripts to take drug tests, the defense ministry said Tuesday, in a stepped-up fight against illegal drugs.
The ministry unveiled the move as part of its anti-drug measures, after the military saw a sharp rise in drug cases to 30 last year from nine in 2020.
The ministry is seeking to expand drug tests on those undergoing pre-enlistment physical exams, but it noted the testing would require a legal revision due to concerns of potential human rights violations.
Currently, prospective enlistees are to undergo a drug test during their physical exams only if a medical officer deems it necessary or if they disclose their past experience with drugs.
In addition, the ministry plans to conduct drug tests on all cadets and noncommissioned officer candidates as well as those applying for long-term military service from as early as the second half of this year.
The ministry also plans to strengthen the screening of delivery packages to military bases to ward off the possible inflow of drugs. Such packages are currently screened for hazardous substance with consent from service members.
Other measures include reinforcing education programs against drug use and strict punishment for those who offer or deliver drugs to other service members.
Early this month, the ministry launched a task force against drug use following a series of drug crime cases in the country, including one in which Army officials discovered marijuana in the living quarters of a border unit last month.
All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve about two years in the military in a country facing constant threats from North Korea.
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