U.S. PGA tour winner Bae loses legal bid to defer conscription

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2015 12:26 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - Twice U.S. PGA tour winner Bae Sang-Moon has been ordered home to South Korea to complete his military service after losing a legal battle to defer his conscription on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, who was granted residency in the United States two years ago, was charged in February with violating South Korea's military service regulations after failing to secure an extension to his overseas travel permit.

Bae was allowed to stay in the United States while his lawsuit against that decision was pending but a court in his home city of Daegu on Wednesday backed the Military Manpower Administration (MMA), Yonhap news agency reported.

With the country still technically at war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean War, all South Korean men between 18 and 35 must complete two years of military service.

Bae, who also competes on the Korean PGA tour, is expected to appeal the court's decision that he was not out of South Korea long enough in 2014 to qualify as an overseas resident.

While he says he only wants to delay his military service, not evade it, the court ruled his refusal to sign up with the military "runs counter to the principle of fairness".

Bae secured his second U.S. PGA title at the Frys.com Open in Napa, California last October and has secured exemption for the 2016 season after winning $2,047,187 so far this season.

Most in the South agree conscription is necessary to deter North Korean aggression and the public backlash toward high-profile figures such as actors, musicians and sportsmen who seek to skip military service is fierce.

Bae, who would earn around $130 a month as a private in the army, took home $15,209 from his last outing on the U.S. PGA tour after tying for 54th at the Greenbrier Classic earlier this month.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)