Thursday, June 21, 2007

soldiers, go make babies!

When it comes to army enlistment, some have it much easier than others. Take Brazilians, for instance. Sure, we're all required to enlist, but the percentage of people who actually serve the full year is very low. Most people are dismissed without ever putting on a pair of boots. You can be dismissed for a myriad of reasons, e.g. simply because you are shortsighted.
Compared to that, some countries in Asia seem much more strict.
Despite the economic growth, regional instabilities and some demographic trends translate to a more rigorous recruitment system.
First, they're faced with regional uncertainties, such as North Korea, the Taiwan Strait issue, and the lingering Sino-Japanese tension over WWII atrocities.
Second, some countries face a shortage of able-bodied men. Singapore, for instance, has a total population of only 4.5 million (of which about half is male). South Korea is bigger, with a population of 49 million, but they also have a much bigger worry across their North border. What makes matters worse for young men in these countries is that both countries present declining birth rates.
These factors force Singapore and South Korea to extend their military service to a 2-year compulsory program. No excuses. In Singapore, even if you're heading to college you have to postpone it for when you finish the National Service, as it is called here.
But you can't keep young men out of the workforce much longer than that. That's too damaging to their careers and to the countries' economies as well.
Faced with this tricky situation, the South Korean government has just announced that starting next year, married soldiers will be allowed to sleep at home, instead of at the barracks as they currently do. The order is clear: protect the nation during the day, make babies at night. (via iol)

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