Military service for men is mandatory in South Korea, regardless of social, financial and religious status. Before 2011, young men from multicultural families were not required to undergo military training especially if they didn’t “look” Korean. That has changed and now it doesn’t matter and all men including those with one non-Korean parent should go to the military.
The son of the most prominent Filipino in Korea has started his military service. Lee Seung-geun is the son of Jasmine Lee, the former South Korean lawmaker who was from the Philippines. He entered the military on September 6th at a camp in Jeollabuk-do. He began attending university in 2015 but his studies are on halt since the good-looking young man is expected to complete his service after two years. He is not the first multicultural child to join Korea’s armed forces but he is the first multicultural child of the first non-ethnic Korean lawmaker in South Korea.
Why is this significant to us? Like Jasmine Lee and many others, I also have a son who I expect to fulfill his military duties in a couple of years. It has only been five years since multicultural children were required to attend mandatory military service and we have the same anxiety as most Korean families who worry about their children attending military service. Will our sons be treated fairly? Will they have the same opportunities?
Will there still be mandatory service when it’s time for my son to go and serve his country? I don’t have any problem with military service. My father was a soldier in the Philippines. One of my nephews is a soldier with the US Navy. And I have other relatives who have served or are still in service. And my son has dreams of being a soldier like his cousin. At the back of my mind though, I hope he changes his dream.
After turning down requests for media coverage, Jasmine Lee chose to send off her son quietly. But she is a celebrity and thankfully someone from Yonhap was at the ceremony to take photos of her and her son.
Trying to be cheery ~
Fulfilling a mom and a son’s duty to the country…
And now it’s time to let go…
Here’s what Jasmine Lee wrote for her son ~ and this is our wish for Lee Seung-geun and all the other Korean men in the military as well ~
ê±´ê°•í•˜ê²Œ ìž˜ ê°”ë‹¤ ì™€, ëŒ€í•œë¯¼êµì˜ ì•„ë“¤ì•„! (Go and come back safely, son of Korea!)
ì—„ë§ˆ ê¸°ë‹¤ë¦´ê²Œ, ì‚¬ëž‘í•´! â¤ï¸â¤ï¸â¤ï¸ (Your mom will be waiting, I love you!