Despite South Korea’s emergence as a global power in golf, a bid this year by a star South Korean player to postpone his mandatory military service in order to keep pursuing his career was unsuccessful.
Sang-Moon Bae, a two-time PGA Tour winner, starts his term of service this week. Bae had previously applied for an exemption so that he could continue playing golf overseas, as all able-bodied Korean men between 18 and 35 are required to serve for two years. A court denied his request for temporary deferment, although Bae was allowed to play in the Presidents Cup before beginning his service in the city of Chuncheon.
Because of ongoing tensions with North Korea and South Korea’s heavy reliance on conscription to fill out its military ranks, the government takes the laws enforcing military service very seriously.
Danny Lee, one of his close friends on Tour, posted a photo of Bae in a send-off tweet.
According to the AFP, Bae said he would “be back on tour in 2017” before he walked into his army training camp.