top of page

Education and Military Service

For any K-pop fan, heartbreak is their favorite (male) artist’s military enlistment hiatus. Because South Korea is one of those countries where military conscription is mandatory for all adult male citizens.

But what is mandatory military service?

Every country has a military, but its ranks are filled in different ways. One of these ways is mandatory service–all citizens (generally males) are expected to complete a certain amount of time in active service.

Mandatory service takes on different forms in different countries. In South Korea, for instance, all men between the ages of 18-30 must enlist for 18 to 24 months. North Korea mandates eight years of service for men and five years for women from age 17 onwards. On the other hand, Nigeria has no mandatory military service but requires university graduates and polytechnics to participate in the National Youth Service Corps program for a year (known as national service year). All Singaporean 18-year-old males are required to complete a 24-month-long enlistment.

Mandatory military service is often argued against because it violates people’s rights to exercise free will. Since it is a compulsory mandate and any person who does not participate in service is treated like a traitor by the state, citizens do not have a choice in enlistment.

Compulsory services also have a direct impact on higher education attainment. Generally, service disrupts citizens’ educational journeys because they are drafted at the height of their learning ability. Individuals’ pursuit of higher education (as well as their entry into the workforce) is heavily delayed. One study conducted in the Netherlands, for example, found that compulsory military service decreases the proportion of university graduates by 1.5 percent and reduces the probability of obtaining a university degree by almost four percent.

Many see compulsory service as a duty to the nation and the very embodiment of patriotism. But is it really the best way to foster nationalism? Instead of constantly working on strengthening the military, would it not be better for the nation to invest more time and money in higher education?

30 views5 comments


This was an amazing post, and I must stay very well researched too. This made me ponder over how involved milatary is in the everyday affairs of the country. Shouldn't milatary be confined to the borders? These practices don't foster patriotism but rather normalize milatary and army. Children start feeling like this is the main thing and may be education isn't that big of a deal. This is a scary reality to live in but it happenong in many countries including Pakistan.


Great Post! Your post reminded me of this article I had been reading that explored the relationship between crime/social violence and disrupted education due to mandatory enlistment. Depending on the societal context, in certain cases enlistment ensured a decline in crimes as the most agile cohort, during their most crime prone years is curtailed yet in other contextual realities owing to a frustration at being educationally detained, individuals, post-enlistment, actively committed crime - specifically those that came from economically insecure backgrounds. In my observation, these crimes can also be understood as retaliation against a state-sanctioned suppression of autonomy. This can be extensively dangerous when viewed in relation to the skill set imparted by the military program. The mandated military service…


This is so insightful! It's very interesting how different countries and cultures treat the same things and institutions, such as the military, differently. I do feel like this compulsory nature of enrollment, though rooted in patriotism and experience, can result in loss of years that can be spent in working otherwise and catering to specific needs of the self and the family. The military is always a central institution across the world and is given an understatement of devotion, but this sort of compulsion can be detrimental. However, I do believe it's extremely interesting that this way, in some contexts, even women get the chance to be part of the army for a certain period of time regardless of what…


This is very well written! Apart from the statistics you shared regarding people not pursuing higher education because of the ideal of compulsory military service, one major drawback is the immigration of skilled individuals to other countries. In such countries, many people decide to relocate and build their careers in other parts of the world where military service is not a requirement. Anyhow, because of such policies, these countries end up losing many of their valuable individuals, which halts economic growth.


I agree with your post, we can see even in Pakistan most of our resources are used by the military which yes being a developing country which is landlocked should be our priority but instead of focusing entirely on our army and their trainings, we should divert our attention to the education system. Yes, there are army public schools but are they accessible? Are they inclusive? Do they focus on education or military?

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page