Here’s how Ji Chang Wook’s Duty in the Military Differ from Lee Min Ho’s

Every time we hear about the enlistment of our loving male actors and idols who haven’t yet done the mandatory military service in South Korea, we feel a little break in our hearts as it means not having to see our favourites for the next two years.

Based on our research, South Korea is one of the largest standing armed forces in the world as there are 625,000 (2016) active personnel and 3,100,000 (2016) reserve personnel.

Conscription, also known as, Mandatory Military Service and Compulsory National Service, is legislated in South Korea with military service stated in Chapter ll Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea for all male citizens.

This has always been a hot topic of debate for fans, as well as the celebrities’ management companies.

We’ll elaborate more on why the said citizens of South Korea, especially the Korean actors and idols who have millions of fans all over the world, have to take the Mandatory Military Service.

Why do they need to stop working in the entertainment for two years? 

Okay, we need to take note one by one. There are two tiers of service:


The length of this varies according to branches. A period of 21 months is required for Amry and Marine Corps, 23 months for the Navy, while for the Air Force 25 months is the standard.


This duty involves working in the public government and doing the office job such as work area in the civil service and public service.

One Korean actor we all love, Ji Chang Wook, is taking up the active duty since he is totally physical and mentally prepared for the Mandatory Military Service. 

” I will return after protecting our country. Until then, I hope you all will be healthy.”

– Ji Chang Wook

On the other hand, Lee Min Ho, whom we love as well, took the non-active duty due to previous physical injury.

Last May 2017, the actor took his service duty as a civil service worker in Gangnam-gu office in South Korea.

“I’ve received all the expressions of regret and support from the fans. I hope I can give you (healing) after I come back fit and healthy.”

– Lee Min Ho (이 민 호)

Gangnam-Gu Community Center


All Korean men are required to take physical check-up when they reach the legal age to determine whether he is suitable for the Mandatory Service.

  • Grades 1-3: normal
  • Grade 4: alternative service; given to individuals that fulfil their military duties as a civil worker amongst civilians.
  • Grade 5: civil defence during war.
  • Grade 6: exemption from military service in both situation.
  • Grade 7: re-check-up within two years.


When Korean men are considered unfit for Military Service for a physical or mental reason but not for exemption to do 2 years of civil service, they may work in a social welfare organization or public institution. They are required to apply for government work designated for 34 months instead of the regular Military Service.

South Korean men with professional skills can also opt to finish their duty as alternative service to comply.

For instance, with medical license  may choose to serve as a public health doctor which requires 3 years of work in local community health centres. Meanwhile, a licensed attorney may opt to focus in law, a licensed veterinarian may work as a public quarantine veterinarian.

How about graduate students who majored in technology and scientific fields?

They become part of the expert research personnel as selected through a national test. Check this out for more information on the military service.

Wonsan pok-gyeok (원산 폭격)

The photo above gives an idea of what Korean military experience looks like. That posture is called Wonsan pok-gyeok which translates to “bombing of Wonsan.” Wonsan is a port city in North Korea. This punishment is applied liberally for various causes, such as being slow in marching, losing a soccer game, or overcooking sarge’s ramen.

To take the conscription is not a piece of cake, as we realize. One does not have just any excuse to go against this in South Korea. Read the whole article about this.

So why is there a need for South Korean male citizens to undergo Mandatory Military Service?

Here are some reasons why.

The main reason lies on their relationship with North Korea. We are all aware that South Korea and North Korea developed a dreadful relationship after the Korean War. This causes the need for South Korea to have an active force in order for the country to be ready for something alarming.


People of South Korea are very sensitive towards the Mandatory Military Service, especially on those who come from wealthy and politically-powerful families who may try to avoid their national duties.

Here are some who had controversies about the enlistment for the mandatory service.

Steve Yoo

Image not owned by Kdramabuzz

In 2002, Korean-American pop singer Steve Yoo was due to be drafted for his military service, but he gave up his Korean nationality and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Today, he is banned from entering South Korea permanently.


Image not owned by Kdramabuzz

It can be recalled that the Kpop world was shaken when T.O.P. was expelled from his military police division because of his case about the marijuana issue.

All we can give to the Korean men who sacrifice their youth for the nation’s security is SALUTE.

Some photos are courtesy of @nel2194son

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