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'13 Acquittals Just this Year'…Rising Expectation on Adoption of

17:03 June 15, 2017 replay time01:52

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Alternative Service

[Anchor]

There were 13 acquittals of those who objected to join the military for reasons such as religious beliefs, also known as 'conscientious objectors,' this year.

There is rising interest on whether the Moon administration will adopt an alternative service program and create a new trend.

Kim Ji-su has more.

[Reporter]

Starting this year, acquittals of conscientious objectors increased sharply.

There were a total of 13 cases, which is almost half the number of the 30 total cases since the first acquittal in 2004.

In particular, this time Judge Lee Hyeong-ju from the Seoul Eastern District Court, who ruled guilty for 16 cases of conscientious objection from 2005 to 2012, also joined in and ruled not guilty.

Judge Lee expressed his reasons for turning to acquittal that "conscientious objection is a justifiable reason confirmed by the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea" and that "it should simply be put up to interpretation made by individual judges."

Without War activist Lee Yong-seok expressed that he has high expectations for the future, taking the changes in court rulings as a positive sign.

<Lee Yong-seok / Activist of Without War> "I think judges who ruled guilty in the past for those who had to choose to join the military or go to prison are now making their voices heard by making their voices heard..."

This activist, who did not join the military after receiving his enlistment notice in 2005, was imprisoned for one year and two months.

He refused to join the military because of his personal conviction that he would not partake in preparing for war, unlike most others who object to joining the military for religious reasons.

He expressed that since alternative service is now available for conscientious objectors rather than going to prison, it is now an issue of one's will.

<Lee Yong-seok / Activist of Without War> "If the government has the will, I think it can easily manage the system based on existing policy. They can devise tasks that contribute to public good without being involved with war...."

In Korea, there are at least 390 people currently incarcerated for conscientious objection, and for the last 60 years there have been a total of 19 thousand convicts.

Kim Ji-su reporting for Yonhap News TV.

Yonhap News TV: 02-398-4441 (Inquiry on Article) 4409 (Report), KakaoTalk/Line jebo23

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