Any male university student who plans to go abroad is required by law to visit the Military Manpower Administration to get a passport rather than the relevant city hall. And this is normal for Korean university students making a trip abroad even if foreigners may think it weird. Because all male university students have to obtain MMA's approval to go abroad according to the military service law.
But it's not easy to get approval for a trip abroad. Above all, he has to prepare some complicated and vexatious documents: Guarantee of Return, Certificate of the Seal Impression of Sponsor for Return, Certificate of Property Tax and Aggregate Land Tax Payment. The qualifications of sponsorship are too strict. According to the Military Manpower Administration, "A person can be qualified as a sponsor on condition that his/her tax year payment of property tax and aggregate land tax add up to more than 30,000 won, and the total amount of the sponsor's tax year property tax and aggregate land tax is over 150,000 won." If his parents or relatives do not satisfy the qualifications, he must buy a 60,000 won insurance that guarantees him to return to Korea.
When finishing the troublesome steps and applying to the relevant city hall, he gets a one-year passport that will be expired after having a short trip. Thus, if he wants to go abroad again, he should take the above steps.
"Incompletion of Military Service" has an influence on his returning to Korea. After returning to his home, he has to inform MMA of his return within 30 days. If he doesn't, his sponsors will be slapped with a 50 million won.
Due to the military service law, he can't avoid taking those steps to go abroad. If he wants to take a trip abroad, he must be patient.
However, a question arises here. Will national security be shaken because any young man has not completed military service before going abroad? Some might say, "If there are no soldiers, who will defend our country against enemies?" Of course, I do not deny the need for soldiers. But everyone doesn't have to be a soldier.
A Korean writer says in his fiction, "While American young men dream about the universe in Pasadena, Korean youths level muzzles at each other." The reality of Korea is that lots of its young men are being drafted by the army, where they'll shout "Against the Reds." This is a sad contrast to the atmosphere of reconciliation in the wake of the Joint Declaration on June 16, 2000, between two Koreas.
Choi Jong-taek firstname.lastname@example.org
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