For South Korean esports athletes, the mandatory military service or conscription that they have to do for their country can greatly affect their careers. Missing significant time in the competitive scene can often lead to them lagging behind their competitors, or even dropping out of the scene altogether. But a landmark ruling on objectors to the military service may lead to a solution for them.
South Korea’s Supreme Court had recently acquitted a man who refused to serve in the military because of his religious beliefs. That ruling is expected to affect more than 900 other conscientious objectors who are still on trial for refusing the mandatory military service.
A report by the New York Times revealed that “the failure to offer alternative forms of civilian service to conscientious objectors was unconstitutional, and gave the government until the end of next year to introduce the option of performing alternative services, like working in prisons or fire stations.”
With that, South Koreans can now cite two reasons, consciousness and morals or religious allegiance, to refuse the military service. But other than that, alternative ways of serving that are less time-consuming or disruptive to a professional player’s career can be more readily considered.
The issue with South Korean esports athletes and the possibility of an exemption from military service for them was brought up in the 2018 Asian Games back in August. Many thought that if the players were to receive gold medals from the event, they would be granted the exemption as with traditional sportsmen in the past. That was proven to not be the case for esports athletes however.
It is hoped that the landmark ruling on the military service, along with the air of increased legitimacy that the esports industry has been enjoying as of late, will make it easier for South Korean esports athletes to pursue their careers without having to worry about their conscription.
Many of the best players in different esports titles, such as League of Legends and Overwatch, hail from South Korea. One can hope that the ruling can only help them thrive in their professional careers.