Posted Date: 02/11/2018
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The Supreme Court of South Korea ruled that refusal to perform military service due to religious belief is not guilty

The Supreme Court of South Korea ruled that refusal to perform military service due to religious belief is not guilty

Original title: South Korean Supreme Court ruled: refusal to perform military service due to religious belief

On November 1st, the collegiate bench of the South Korean Grand Court (Supreme Court) ruled that 9 people agreed and 4 people opposed it. The act of refusing to perform military service based on the religious conviction of “refusing to take a gun” should not be subject to criminal punishment, overthrowing the Great Court. The judgment made in 2004.

the Korean religious "Jewish Witnesses" believer, 34-year-old Wu Mou was previously accused of violating the "Military Service Law" and sentenced to one and a half years for refusing to join the military service. Wu refused to accept the appeal, and eventually the Great Court overturned the original The judgment was sent back to the retrial.

The court held that religious beliefs, that is, "freedom of conscience" is higher than the "constitutional legal benefit" of military service obligations, and criminal punishment excessively restricts the freedom of conscience or threatens its essence. The court also pointed out that the practice of forcing (young men) to perform military service and punish those who do not serve military service is contrary to the liberal democracy of a tolerant minority.

However, the four judges with a minority opinion believe that the acquittal of refusal to perform military service will lead to confusion if there is no significant change in social norms and realities without changing the existing jurisprudence. They criticized that this ruling may open a small stove for certain religions, which goes beyond the scope of freedom of conscience and violates the principle of separation of church and state. They also pointed out that this issue should be dealt with according to national policies such as the alternative service system that is under consideration, and should be awaiting legislative resolution, rather than a hasty draft based on the current Constitutional Service Law.

Despite strong opposition from a few opinions, most judges, including the president of the Grand Court, Jin Mingqi, still make the final verdict of innocence, and it is expected that 227 similar lawsuits in the trial will end in the defendant's victory. 

South Korean Supreme Court ruled refusal to perform military service due to religious belief


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