“We hope to faithfully carry out alternative or social service and change views from negative to positive.”
Kim Hyeong-gyu (25), one of the conscientious objectors released on parole Friday, told reporters before leaving the Uijeongbu Prison, Gyeonggi Province. Fifty-eight men including Kim, who had been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military, were released from 17 prisons across the country such Suwon and Daegu on Friday. They were greeted by their families and other Jehovah’s Witnesses who welcomed their release.
On Nov. 1, the Supreme Court first objected to the practice of imprisoning conscientious objectors, saying that “forcing a military duty with criminal punishment or other punitive measures is an excessive restraint of freedom of conscience.” The top court’s ruling put an end to criminal punishment for conscientious objectors, to which some 20,000 men had been subject for 69 years and three months since the Military Service Act took effect in August 1949.
Following the Supreme Court’s verdict, the Ministry of Justice held a committee Monday and decided to release on parole 58 conscientious objectors who had met the requirements and served over six months. This has reduced the number of conscientious objectors in jail to 13 in South Korea.
Dong-Jun Heo firstname.lastname@example.org