South Korean LoL players can skip military service - if they win

South Korean LoL players can skip military service - if they win
Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


26th Jun 2023 16:40

After a delay of the 2022 Asian Games due to COVID-19, the competition is set to take place in Hangzhou, China in September of this year. For the second time, League of Legends (LoL) will be played during the event.

For the South Korean national LoL team, competing at the Asian Games is not just a matter of fighting for glory. A gold medal could also mean that the team members may be made exempt from the country's compulsory military service. 

Asia Games for LoL are an Olympic medal event

The Asian Games will hosted in Hangzhou, China, in late September 2023 - marking an important milestone for the world of esports. For the first time, League of Legends will be recognized as an Olympic medal event.

In the previous Asian Games held in 2018, League of Legends was already featured as one of its competitive video game titles, among other games like Clash Royale, Hearthstone, and Starcraft II

In the event's LoL grand finals, China secured the trophy against South Korea in a 3-1 victory. Since then, the two nations have further established themselves as the two premier scenes for competitive LoL, with its domestic league teams going back and forth at Riot Games' annual League of Legends World Championship.

However, this time around, due to the event being recognised as an Olympic gold medal event, it has large implications for the South Korean nationals competing in the games.

The stakes are huge

During the 2022 Asian Games, more than just competitive glory is at stake. That is because if the South Korean team should the team secure victory, they stand a chance of being made exempted from the country's mandatory military service.

South Korea has enforced conscription since 1957, requiring all men aged 18 to 35 to perform military service. Regularly, South Korean players have to delay their service due to their esports careers, with many retirements being followed by starting their service shortly after.

However, a regulation grants exceptions to those South Korean athletes who win medals in the Olympic Games or gold medals in the Asian Games. 

According to the military service act implementation rules, these athletes are required to undertake a shorter, four-week basic military training, and continue to engage in their sport for 42 months. 

After completing this period, they join the reserve roster and are only required to attend several days of annual military training for six years.

Rest assured, getting to avoid the up to two-year-long mandatory military service adds another dimension to the competition. The 2022 Asian Games in League of Legends kick off on September 24, 2023, and more information regarding the event is expected closer to the start date.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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