Korean Law Demystified!

Reserve Forces Training (in Korea) – Military Service Act


For me, the easiest way to become a criminal (under Korean law) would be: Failure to appear at this year’s reserve forces training (예비군 훈련). Some crimes can be committed simply by “inaction/omission.”

I recently received a letter (via e-mail) notifying me of my duty to appear (soon). In Korea, a discharged person (male) has the duty to take part in reserve forces training for the following 6 years (once every year).

I thought it’d be fun to share the bottom portion of the letter, which does not contain any of my personal information. I have roughly translated into English what was written.

In accordance with Article 50 of the Military Service Act, (we) hereby notify of you of your duty (to take part in the above military training).

2014. 02. 03

Commissioner of Seoul Military Manpower Office

Official Seal Omitted


– Persons notified to “join individually” are to appear at the training venue no later than the date/time specified. Persons notified to “join in group” are to appear at the vehicle embarkation area no later than the date/time specified.

– This letter can also be printed out at the Military Manpower Office website (www.mma.go.kr).


1. Please be sure to wear the proper military attire (military hat, fatigues, and boots, etc) to take part. Also, be sure to bring with you your personal identification card (Citizen Registration Card or Driver’s license, etc).

2. Persons who fail to show up on time (at the designated location), persons who fail to appear wearing the proper attire, and persons who fail to bring his personal identification card cannot take part in training. Such a person will be considered as having been “absent w/o legitimate cause.” Consequently, he will face punishment as if having failed to appear (entirely).

3. The location (of the base) and public transportation information can be found at the Military Manpower Office website under “How to Get to the Training Location” (Note: Some base locations will not be available/disclosed for security reasons). Nevertheless, the recruitment officer will also let you know via a separate letter.

4. Regulation on Punishment

A. Unlike regular reserve forces training conducted by a regional reserve forces base, “mobilization trainings” cannot be automatically deferred as a result of having failed to appear. As a result, a criminal complaint will promptly be filed against such a person. He will face imprisonment for not more than 6 months or a fine not exceeding 2 million won. He could also face detention and will be asked to take part in the next round of “non-mobilization trainings.”

B. A person who appears “in place of” another will face imprisonment for not more than 1 year. The “original” person who failed to appear will also face punishment in accordance with the Military Service Act.

5. General Instructions and Other Issues (Deferment of Training, etc) <- Click here to read.

This e-mail service prohibits the unlawful collection of e-mail addresses. In case of violation, such a person will face punishment in accordance with the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection, etc.


1) Reserve forces training lasts for 3 days (2 nights). For those affiliated with a school (e.g., attending law school), training could end in 1 day.

2) If a person is working or attending school abroad (lawfully), he is not required to take part at all (i.e., exempted). For instance, he won’t be asked to take part in the trainings he’d missed while abroad.

3) During reserve forces training, the trainees are subject to the Military Criminal Act (군형법). Failure to follow instructions can/will get a person court martialed, etc.

4) There are “mobilization trainings” (동원훈련) and “non-mobilization trainings” (동미참훈련). I think we are randomly assigned each year. I’ve been to both.

5) Some money is given to the participants. Basic transportation fee.

Thanks for reading!

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