This is a photo captured from Kang We-suck’s mini-homepage. He wrote a note at the bottom of the photo, which reads: “This is where I will be for two years.”
By Lee Hyo-sik
“I would rather go to prison and do my time behind bars than serve in the military.” This is what Kang We-suck, a 26-year-old-man indicted for refusing to fulfill his military duty, said when asked about whether he would appeal to a higher court if a lower court rules in favor of the prosecution.
Kang told The Korea Times Wednesday that he decided to go to jail, rather than serve in the military, stressing that regardless of a lower court’s ruling, he has no intention to appeal.
Last year, he received a notice to appear for military duty from the Military Manpower Administration but refused to join the armed forces. Shortly after, he was indicted by the prosecution for rejecting to perform the mandatory military duty.
All able-bodied South Korean men aged over 19 are required to serve in the military for 21-24 months. Korean courts have sentenced conscription rejecters with prison terms over the years.
“Whatever ruling the court comes out with, I have no plan to appeal the decision to a higher court. If it rules against me, I will go to prison and do my time. I think it is worthwhile contemplating what I am going to do after serving my sentence, rather than wasting time by filing an appeal to a higher court,” Kang said.
He then said his appeal may help him attract the spotlight from media outlets and the public, but that it would not fundamentally change anything in society. “I would like to spend my time in a productive manner. From now on, I will only think about what I am going to do after getting out of jail,” Kang said.
Lashing out at Korea’s mandatory conscription system, he said he would like to see it abolished. “I just don’t understand why all Korean men have to serve in the military. It is unfortunate that we are given only two choices; serve in the military or go to jail. This doesn’t make sense and is something that has to be changed.”
On Oct. 1, 2008, he staged a nude protest at a ceremony in Seoul commemorating Armed Forces Day, arguing that young men should be allowed to refuse military duty on the basis of personal beliefs.
Kang also made headlines across the country in 2004 when he was a high school senior at Daegwang High School. At the time, he refused to attend the school’s chapel services on the grounds of religious freedom.
After being expelled, he filed a lawsuit against the school and the Seoul city government, seeking 50 million won in compensation. He was awarded 25 million won for damages inflicted on him by the high school.
In 2005, he entered Seoul National University’s law school. But after having failed to enroll since the second semester of 2007, he was expunged from the register early this year.
`군대 가느니 차라리 감옥에 가겠다’
강의석 군대 가느니 차라리 감옥에 가겠다고 입영 거부로 최근 기소된 강의석(26)가 말했다. 현재 진행되고 있는 재판에서 지더라도 항소하지 않고 군대 대신 감옥에 가겠다고 말했다.
그는 지난해 논산 육군훈련소에 입영하라는 입영 통지서를 받고도 입대를 거부한 혐의로 최근 기소됐다. 그는 항소하느니 차라리 감옥에 가기로 결정했으며 앞으로 어떻게 살아갈지를 생각하고 있다고 말했다.
2008년에는 양심에 따른 병역 거부를 주장하며 국군의 날 행사장에서 알몸 시위를 벌여 이목을 끌었다. 2004년에는 대광고 재학 중에는 학생에게 종교의 자유를 보장해야한다며 1인 시인을 벌이다 퇴학 당하자 모교와 서울시를 상대로 5000만원의 손해보상 청구 소송을 냈고 작년 10월에 2500만원 승소 판결을 받았다