military won't let judoka off the hook
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[January 13, 2014]
By Narae Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) — Dirty looks and
"shushing" are the normal penalties for being caught using a cellphone
where you shouldn't, but Olympic judo silver medalist Wang Ki-chun was
busted by South Korean military police and held for eight days during
his national service.
Wang, who won silver in the men's under 73kg division at the 2008
Beijing Games, relinquished his cellphone when he entered the Korea
Army Training Centre in Nonsan, 180 kilometers south of Seoul, on
December 10, according to local media reports.
However, the 25-year-old was then caught using another one two weeks
later and faced "punitive measures" at the military correctional
facility between December 31 and January 7.
An official at the Ministry of National Defence told Reuters on
Monday: "It is rare for us to detect the usage of mobile phones
during the four-week training. But as long as Wang re-enlists and
finishes the four-week training all over again, he is off the hook."
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve in the
military for about two years.
However, athletes who win medals at the Olympics, or gold medals at
the Asian Games, are granted exemptions as long as they complete
four weeks of military training and spend 34 months as coaches or
athletes in the same sport.
The official said athletes and celebrities were given no
preferential treatment during their stints.
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"We are just following the instructions that are universally applied
to all soldiers," the official added. "We did not and do not give
him special treatment just because he is a national team athlete."
Wang is now reported to be at home waiting for his re-enlistment
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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