Bae Sang-moon to Join South Korean Military After Losing Court Battle

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Two-time PGA tour winner Bae Sang-moon said on Wednesday that he will be returning to South Korea to complete his military service after losing a legal battle to defer his conscription.

The 29-year-old golfer, who was granted U.S. residency in 2013, was charged in February with violating South Korea’s Military Service Act after he failed to secure an extension his overseas travel permit at the end of last year, according to Reuters.

Since the two Koreas remain technically at war with each other after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, all South Korean men between 18 and 35 are required to serve two years in the military.

The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) refused Bae’s request to extend his visa last December, claiming that he had spent too much time in South Korea to be considered an overseas resident, and filed an administrative suit on Jan. 16. Bae was allowed to stay in the States while the lawsuit was pending.

The Korean golfer had informed the Daegu District Court that he would like to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro—where if he wins a medal, he could earn an exemption from conscription. However, the court sided with a local branch of the MMA on Wednesday, ruling that Bae’s refusal to sign up with the military “runs counter to the principle of fairness” with other conscripts.

While Bae reiterated that he only planned to delay his military service, not evade it, he said he will “humbly accept” the court’s ruling and return to South Korea as soon as possible to complete his mandatory military service.

“I felt this was a critical time for me as a young athlete to continue to compete on the U.S. golf tour,” Bae told Yonhap News Agency. “And I’d been doing the best I could to extend my stay, which was the legal and reasonable way. But the court’s ruling today reminded me of the fact I should put my duty as a South Korean citizen ahead of my golfing career.”

Last October, Bae won his second PGA Tour title at the Open, which secured him an exemption through the 2016-17 season. According to the a statement from the PGA Tour, Bae will be allowed to retain his exempt status upon returning from the military.

Ranking No. 107 in the world, Bae is the second highest-ranked Korean golfer behind An Byeong-hun (No. 57), according to the Golf Channel.

See Also


Bae Wins PGA Tour Opener at Silverado


Featured image via Bae Sang-moon/Facebook and PGA Tour

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