We admit that the headline for this story is pretty wild, so allow us a few moments to lay some contextual groundwork: South Korea has a Military Service Act that mandates all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35 be conscripted into military service, with those violating the law facing prison time. However, the law makes exceptions for those who can claim to be a conscientious objector, which is defined by the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission as “an individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience and or religion.”
It’s that claim of being a conscientious objector by a South Korean man that’s at the heart of this story, as the Korean Supreme Court has ruled that the man can’t be against violence and military service because, in part, he enjoys playing the shooter PUBG.
The unnamed man was charged with violating the law in November 2018, but he argued to the court that he had personal beliefs against war and violence. The case made its way to the country’s Supreme Court, which this week upheld the lower court’s ruling, with the man’s admitted enjoyment of PUBG being held up as an argument against the idea that he was opposed to violence.
“The video game is different from reality. But the fact that the defendant—who says he is rejecting military service based on his beliefs to oppose violence and war—enjoys such games makes the court question whether his conscientious objection is authentic,” the Supreme Court ruled. “[The defendant has] not put any effort into spreading or realizing what he says is his ideological belief.”
As a result of the ruling, the man will now serve one year and six months in prison.