Seoul: South Korean badminton star Lee Yong-Dae has refuted an assertion made my Korean media that he had fabricated his community service time in order to obtain his military service waiver.
By the Korean Law, the majority of able-bodied South Koreans aged between 18 to 28 must participate in a 21-month military service. Olympic medal winners and Asian Games gold medalists are granted a special exemption. However, they would still require basic military training of up to 60 days, as well as 544 hours of sports-related community service.
Lee Yong-Dae who won the mixed doubles gold medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics, avoided conscription but he was obligated to fulfill the hours needed for the community service. Lee told Korean media that he was actually the person who voluntarily reported the errors to the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) last Friday.
“In the process of registering my community service records, I noticed there were several errors in commuting time, service time, name of the service location and lack of photo data,” said Lee.
Lee was registered as sports personnel in 2016 after he retired from the Korean national team.
“I was selected as sports personnel with a big privilege, so I always thought it was important to complete my community service duty sincerely,” he said. “In the case of miscalculating service time, I did an additional 25 hours of service and completed the duty at 569 hours.”
However, Lee admitted that it was his fault that he didn’t discover the problem of his service records sooner.
“After I register the address of the workplace, the calculation of commuting time is done and written by a worker (at the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation),” he said. “Probably from this process, some cases may have been reported with a false record.”
Before Lee Yong-Dae, Korea’s national football player Jang Hyun-soo was exempted from the Military Service after winning gold at the 2014 Asian Games and submitted a document that he had completed nearly 200 hours of community service in December last year.
But it was later discovered that there was heavy snow on the day that Jang claimed to have carried out outdoor football lessons.
Jang has then admitted he did that on purpose and has received a lifetime ban on playing for the national team from the Korea Football Association (KFA).